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Dear Parents, Charge Your Kids Rent

   Posted On: May 14, 2013  |    Posted In: Love and Money  |     Posted by: Broke Millennial®

In the final weeks of my senior year it became clear the 100+ job applications I’d sent to various broadcast news stations and newspapers around the country had been tossed into garbage cans or sent to junk mail. It appeared I would face the same fate as scores of other millennials on graduation day; returning home to live with my parents.

In my desperation for any sort of employment, I began searching online for minimum wage jobs near my parents home. I sent applications to the local chain stores, movie theaters and fast food joints in their zip code.

On graduation day, I walked across the stage, got handed a piece of paper and received initiation into the not-so-elite club of the over-educated and under-employed. But I had hope! Books-A-Million had called the day before requesting I come in for an interview as a sales clerk.

(When this picture was snapped, I was the only one moving home and not heading to grad school. It was a rough day.)

I’d love to chalk up my drive for employment to my impeccable work ethic and insatiable desire to better my financial future. While the latter is probably true, my motivation came from the inevitable rent check I’d have to start writing each month. In the #Broke Millennial home, returning to the nest would not be a free ride. Returning home after graduation meant a grace period of three months before being expected to pay rent.

My fellow millennials, please hold your gasps and shouts of outrage because I’m about to betray the millennial code. I absolutely agree. After a designated grace period, parents should require “boomerage kids” to pay rent. I’m not saying parents should charge a rent on par with living independently (unless the situation warrants). My suggested amount is between $100-$300 depending on both the child’s financial situation and his or her financial burden to the home.

Reason 1: Your Parents Don’t Owe you Sh*t

Apologies for the lack of eloquence, but it’s true. By law, your parents no longer have to support you, financially, after the age of 18 (or in some cases 21). If they’re allowing you back into their home, then it’s from the kindness of their hearts and their love for you (plus a touch of guilty conscience). Moving back into the nest is not a right provided to you by a shared bloodline.

Reason 2: Get a Job

Let’s face it, a multitude of millennials are having trouble finding an entry-level career job. It’s a buyer’s market and employers are the buyers. Potential employers have thousands upon thousands of qualified, college-educated, well-rounded applicants pounding on the door. You are not special. Sorry.

If your hundreds of job applications have gone unanswered then it’s time to reevaluate your search and lower your expectations. Is the local grocery store hiring? Got a Starbucks within a reasonable drive? The Golden Arches usually has some open spots. A college degree shouldn’t be a crutch to avoid being employed. Working part-time at a minimum wage job is not beneath you. If you’re living at home while searching for a job related to your major, great. Just be sure to have a job in the interim.

Reason 3: The “Real World” Requires Rent (and lots of extras)

Hypothetically, you’ve secured yourself a part-time, minimum wage job. You’re only making $800 a month. You’re already spending $350 of it on loan payments. Why should Mom and Dad take another $100+ in rent fees? Because, paying a monthly stipend to Mom and Dad while beginning to pay off student loans will prepare you for when you’re balancing all the costs of the “real world.”

When you’re living independently you’ll be responsible for a lot more than rent and student loan bills.  You’ll need to balance rent and student loans on top of utility bills, grocery bills, cellphone bills, cable bills, insurance bills, transportation bills, internet bills and of course the bar tab bills each month.

I know many of you are sputteHPIM2219ring out the whole point of living at home is to save money. You still should be saving money. If you’re not responsible for any expenses other than student loans and a small rent stipend then you should be able to save a decent amount of your pay check each month. Also, remember student loan payments don’t kick in for six months after graduation. That’s a long period of time to save a majority of your income.

Parents, if the idea of charging rent is too outrageous then consider requiring your millennial to buy all of his or her own groceries, perform weekly household tasks and chip in for utilities, pay his or her cellphone bill, car payments and car insurance each month.

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64 responses to “Dear Parents, Charge Your Kids Rent

  1. its interesting the different take between chinese families and western ones. to the western family your suggestion that the kids pay rent to the parents is taken as outrageous, or so it appears from what u say… but in chinese families, children are expected(and this is an expectation that the children themselves believe) to give money to their parents as soon as they begin to earn. whether they live at home or not. when i first earned , i gave half my salary to my parents without they asking. and i was not staying with them. after all, for years, the whole family have to scrimp and do without to put me through university, so the least i could do is to give back. my elder brothers all did the same. then when i said i want to go to london, my parents returned a portion of the money to me. it is like giving the money to them to safe keep for you and to provide for the younger brothers or sister’s education. so it is not for the parents to live it up. but i have found out that viewpoint is not prevalent amongst my western friends.

    1. This is really interesting. What happens if you know your parents or other family members are not as responsible with money as you are? Is it hard to give up your money knowing they may spend it on frivolous things?

      1. what does it matter? I don’t worry about how the owner of store spends my money after I buy a dress, so why would I care how my landlord (or parents) spends my rent cheque?

        1. You realize this is a totally false equivalency, right? If I’m paying money for “rent”, then like any landlord that charges rent, that money should go to maintenance/utilities of the property. These are the things you get if you have your own apartment. If your parents are paying rent and they need help, that’s one thing. Obviously, they don’t own the property. But say you live with them and they own it? If they’re not doing anything to make sure that things are well maintained, like hiring a plumber, etc, then the bathroom isn’t working, etc, and they are cutting corners to avoid fixing these problems, I don’t see why they should charge you just to live there. Usually the only parents I’ve seen charge rent to their kids are the ones who want to reap all the financial benefits. In all those situations, I’ve also seen those kids try to move out, with parents trying to dissuade them because they don’t want to lose their “cash flow”. Or, the parents flip out because they won’t be able continue helicopter parenting their kids. It also feeds into their need to control everything. And I swear, usually it’s the most controlling parents who charge rent. Every. single. time. So this idea that forking over 400 bucks a month is necessary just to be “responsible” holds no weight.

          1. Just going to take a moment to disagree at the “controlling parents” argument. My parents are far from helicopter or controlling. Their vision of charging rent was simply to foster good saving habits/budgeting for when a child would strike out on his or her own. And knowing my Dad, it would’ve ended up being a parental 401(k) and he would’ve given the money back or even matched it when I moved out. I wouldn’t blanket say parents charging rent are doing it for malicious reasons.

      2. i have noticed quite a lot of people bring this up, that they want to control how the money they give is spent. my parents always say help your brothers and sisters and it is something inculcated in us. we expect each of us to be responsible. remember it is money we can afford to give away. no one is asking another to go into debt or to give money they cannot afford. some of us earn more than others.once given it is now that other person’s money to do as they wish.

    2. I paid $350 per month rent to my parents after university graduation back in 1992 on a minimum wage salary-which was nowhere near what it is today!!! Thanks to them I learned how to budget wisely and save. And back then there were no student credit cards either!

  2. At a certain point, I would definitely charge my kids rent. If they were only living with me temporarily to save money, I wouldn’t. It just depends on the situation. I have seen people mooch off their parents for wayyyyyyyyyy too long. It isn’t right.

  3. I think that it depends on the situation. If it is temporary, then that is what families are for. More than likely that same child will be taking care of you when you get to be old and unable to live on your own, nice. However, some “young adults” need to grow up still. I don’t think charging 100-300 (less than they could live somewhere else) is unreasonable. Especially if that is the kick in the butt they need to get a job.

    1. Wow, I know my response is 2 years late, but “be nice..?” Really? Your parents raised you. They did so because they loved you and this was their responsibility. They don’t have to let you come back. If they do, you should be mature enough to WANT to be financially responsible and give your parents money.

      AND, when you parents are old. You should WANT to take care of them, not because they were nice and let you come back, but because they are your parents and YOU LOVE THEM.

      I hope you treat your parents well.

  4. As I mentioned on Twitter, when I was in my early-20s I moved back with my parents for a while after I broke up with my fiance. The agreement that we came to was that I would buy groceries and cook for the family (myself and my 2 parents, and maybe once a week my brother would come over for dinner). I don’t honestly remember how much it was in actual $$ figures, but it was less than I’d have paid for an apartment and it meant I was contributing to the household.

    Oh and the other rule was that I did my own laundry. My mom was adamant that I wasn’t coming back home to be taken care of .. but to help me, as an adult, get on my feet again. A different situation entirely from a kid living at home.

  5. I would think that having a grace period is a good thing, at least. I think it’s circumstantial, as well. While I don’t necessarily agree with paying rent, I do think that contributing is an important factor. Whether it be chores, helping towards groceries, etc., that makes sense.

    When I lived at home, I didn’t have to pay for food or rent, but in turn, I babysat my nephews (a pair of twin 6 yr olds and a 5 yr old at the time) who lived with us. My sister also lives at home with her children. I always did my own laundry and for the most part, made my own food, unless we sat down together for meals. With the few months that I was employed (temp jobs scattered throughout the year), I was able to save for a car. I should have gotten a part time job, but shoulda, coulda, woulda.

    Looking back, I could’ve contributed more, but I was legitimately depressed and was dealing with a lot of other personal issues at the same point and my mom understood that. I’m glad for all the contributions I did make though.

  6. I moved back home in January and am rent free. My parents know that I’m working very hard to pay off my student loans and that is their way of contributing since they couldn’t financially help with college at all. I help them out all the time with projects around the house, do the majority of the meal planning, shopping and cooking (although admittedly they pay for the groceries, I just do the work), and cleaning. I think we both know it’s an investment because once my huge pile of student loans is gone, it will be time for them to retire and my sister and I will definitely be on the hook to help them out.

  7. From my perspective, as the proud father of the Broke Millennial, charging some amount of rent was not much different than asking her to pay for half of a stuffed animal as a little girl. It was simply another way to ensure our daughter placed a value on what she was getting and understood there was a cost. We never intended to charge a “market” rent and she didn’t stay home long enough for paying rent to be an issue. We miss you – you can come home anytime and stay for free………

    Love you,


      1. Thanks – have another great daughter that is also a blogger living in your backyard (Los Angeles) at the film school at USC. following you on twitter

  8. Great topic! My parents didn’t charge me rent to move back in, but that was only because I had a good job and just couldn’t move into the apartment for a few weeks. Since I am a parent, but won’t have a kid in school for a long time, I would charge rent after a certain period. Kids need to learn responsibility and this will drive them to do something about their situation.

  9. My parents charged me $200 when I moved back home and when I started using their car daily to get to work, I paid for the insurance and gas. I will do the same to my kids if they moved back home after university. Although it sounded like a great idea to move back home to save some money, it put a huge strain on my relationship with my parents. We get along so much better now that I moved out lol.

  10. I love the idea of charging the kids rent if you’re going to let them move back in with you. That being said, you could always do what my parents did and not allow you to move back in as soon as you move out. When things got tight I had to figure it out, and I did.

  11. I don’t think I’d let my kids move back home after university. I get a lot of flack in the PF world for my point of view, because it’s harsh but honestly if my kids had to move back home as adults I’d feel like a failure as a parent because I didn’t raise self-sufficient, independent adults.

    There’s nothing wrong with working at a Starbucks to pay rent, but it can be rent for a place of your own not your parent’s house. if it’s not enough, guess what: you get to work overtime.

    I made $1,600/mo working part-time at Apple 2 years ago before I got my current job. I still paid my $750/mo rent AND made student loan payments. It was tight, but I figured it out.

  12. Great post, Erin! Your stance doesn’t surprise me and I think it’s a fair one. A grace period is fair, because there is a certain amount of transition that occurs after graduation, particularly when you’re facing a tough job market. But at some point, it’s no longer just a temporary stay. As I told you on twitter, I would charge the girls rent, but I would most likely return the money when they found a job and moved out. I don’t “need” their money and would only collect it to prepare them to be on their own – where they do have to pay rent! The money would have to go towards something to help them – deposit on their apartment, pay down student loans/credit cards/car loans, etc. Again, this also assumed they were good renters – paid on time, kept their rooms clean, didn’t sit on the couch and play video games all day. 🙂

  13. I couldn’t agree more – I think by the time someone graduates college, the parent-child relationship should turn more into landlord-tenant (or roommate-roommate) situation where the parent isn’t coddling like anymore. Great post!

  14. As you know, I’m a huge fan of this idea. I’ve seen friends and relatives stuck in arrested development living at home because the real world they’ve grown into doesn’t seem real enough. Charging them rent would at least be some impetus to start hustling

  15. Great topic Erin. As a parent (albeit of a 1 1/2 year old) I would have the desire not to charge my child rent. That would be the default plan, and it would be dependent on what my child was doing with that golden opportunity. I will not support a free loader after the age of 18. I will, however, give my child the opportunity to get ahead financially for a short time if they are doing it wisely. As a Millennial who lives with their parents (for 2 more weeks, yay!), I have to say that not being charged rent has given me great opportunities that I would otherwise not have had. I have been living rent free for about 10 months and it has allowed me to save a great down payment for a house.

    1. Also, I wanted to point out that I don’t think it is a bad thing when parents charge their children rent and I totally understand why they do it. If my parents would have asked me to pay rent, I would have.

  16. I am not a millennial but my sister is. She moved back home with our parents after she graduated in 2009 and worked several crap jobs and one free internship during that time. She also had to buy a car after hers was totaled in an accident. Our parents did not charge her rent or ask her to pay any household expenses, and I think that’s fine. My sister used that time to get 2 years ahead on her car payments, save money to move out and go to grad school, and her living expenses (car insurance, clothes, etc).

    Had my sister not been so responsible with the small income she had, I probably would have encouraged them to charge her rent if for no other reason than to reach her how to manage her money.

    I agree with you that parents should charge rent but I also think it’s circumstantial.

  17. Kids should have to pay rent! I know first hand from some of my friends how it is if your parents spoon feed you everything. The spoon feeding will just never end most likely.

    I had to move out when I was 18 and have been supplying everything for myself ever since. Wouldn’t change a thing. I now charge my sister rent and she is doing much better with managing money.

  18. I agree 100%. I’ve held this attitude long before they left for college… Allie, do you remember paying for the use of our internet (when you were still in middle school)? 🙂

  19. Speaking as a millennial, I totally agree! I’ve know some friends who moved back home, and when they couldn’t get “real” jobs with their communications degrees, they just did nothing. What a waste of time. Get a job, any job, and start learning something, anything, and earning a little bit of money. Help the parents out a little bit!

  20. Great post! I love “Your parent’s don’t owe you s***”! I completely agree. I moved home after some time away post grad to save money/be closer to work/bf moved cross country. And I pay rent. I pay below market rent if I had an apartment but I most certainly pay. I have a good job and make a good living. My parents have given and given for 20+ years. They don’t sign a contract at the hospital that says they have to support their children for life. It is finally time for them to see a few dollars move the other direction.

  21. I think charging rent to one’s own children creates a sense of accountability and encourages the type of budgeting skills needed for survival in the “real world.” My mom & dad accepted a low-level rent from my sister (who had actually asked to pay it) when she lived home after college. My mom put all of that rent money into a savings account (without my sister’s knowledge) and gave it to my sister as a gift on her wedding day. Thus the rent served a dual role – it made my sister feel autonomous and less like she was sucking off my parents, and it helped my sister start her life with her husband when that time came! Perfect solution, in my opinion, and what I plan to do when my toddler gets that far (don’t EVEN make me think about that, though; I’ll tear up just going there mentally! 🙂 )

    1. my parents did this for my brother as well… except they gave it back to him when he started his own business

  22. I lived at home for almost 8 months after school and I wasn’t charged rent. And I even had a decent entry-level job! I like the idea of charging enough rent that it matters, but not enough that it becomes a huge burden. In the real world you have to either make or have money to live at just a basic level. Without any kind of cost of living at home, doing nothing becomes a real option. Even if the rent is only $100, at least they have to do something.

  23. This is a matter I strongly agree with you then, which I will explain. I would at least charge $100 plus chores but possibly more with a really freeloading kid. I have a cousin in her early 30’s who still lives at home rent free and never does any chores, plus her son is really being taken care of financially by my aunt (the kids grandmother). This cousin is so bad with money she bought a brand new car she couldn’t afford and got my mother (who barely makes any money) sucked into helping bail her out with a huge loan that was all for naught as the car got repossessed anyways. And to make matters worse, this cousin of mine is a personal trainer and refuses to get a second job to help her actually earn a decent living (as personal trainers often make very little money). As such, I have a very negative association with letting one’s kids live with parents for too long. Outside of a son/daughter having terrible debt, say either from their education or an unexpected medical bill, I would really start to charge my kid significant rent if they aren’t contributing or don’t have a reason to be living with me after a few months of staying at home. I know it sounds harsh, but a 30-year-old with no plan in life shouldn’t be freeloading off of an enabling parent. There has to be a point where the kid moves on and stops being dependent. If a parent allows a kid to continue freeloading, they’re doing their son/daughter a disservice. Because one day, you as a parent will no longer be there for your kid and if you don’t help your son/daughter become independent, how will she/he survive when you are gone?

  24. Great post Erin! Like I said the other day, I think it depends on the situation, but generally would say yes. I love your grace period approach and agree on the amount you suggested. I think it should generally be meant to help the student begin to adjust to what things may be like in the “real” world and the fact that things need to be paid for. All that said, I think it should be looked at on a case by case basis and be somewhat dependent on how motivated the child is to get out on their own…as much as that is up to them that is.

  25. I agree. My sister followed the Grateful Dead after high school and promptly moved back in with mom and dad for free when the long, strange trip was over. She stayed 8 years. Perhaps if she knew my parents weren’t going to accommodate her hippie lifestyle, she would have got her ass off to college instead. My parents did her no favors. 15 years later, she still struggles and has not completed school.

  26. I think the best situation possible would be if the parents don’t actually need the rent money. So they could put it in a holding account for the kids (without their knowledge of course). That way once it’s time for the kids to move out for real they aren’t left struggling to pay their rent, or struggling to pay for furniture.

    As far as the Boon dude, you forgot to mention his awful chin beard. Usually the earring and chin goatee go hand in hand.

  27. I moved out when I was 18, so it was moot. I do wish I had stayed at home at least another year to save up money though. Anyways, I do agree that parents should charge a token amount for rent once adult children are finished with their undergraduate studies. Life shouldn’t be a free ride and parents should not have to support their adult children.

  28. Great post and I agree with much of it! I wrote my own “tough love for boomerang kids” post a while back – it’s in my link. In the context of American culture I definitely agree that our parents don’t owe us anything post-college (or even post-HS), but for certain subcultures within America (more recent immigrants from communal cultures, usually) there are different expectations of familial support.

    I lived with my parents for about 6 months after college. I had a job, I just wanted to be close to my family after being across the country for college. I paid my parents $500/month for rent/utilities/groceries, which they used to pay the parent PLUS loan they had taken out for my education – so it was mutually beneficial. It didn’t work out to stay there any longer because I had a really long commute, so I eventually moved closer to work, where my rent was $550.

    I definitely think that charging boomerang kids rent will help them be motivated to earn money and prepare them for living on their own – if it’s a long-term situation. If it’s just a transitional move in and out of their house quickly the rent is less important as long as they have an attitude of gratefulness.

  29. This is definitely a seriously debated topic and to be honest there are a few ways this could go. Usually what I go with is if you’re staying at home you need to help, make dinner, do the dishes, help clean the house etc. Make your parents life a bit easier.

  30. Yes, charge them rent. I did the same. Our problem now: 22 y.o. dropout wants to move back AND bring his girlfriend. I don’t have a problem with him moving back (he will be charged rent), but do not want the gf in my house indefinitely.

  31. My son moved out then a situation came up and we suggested he move back in to save money. We charged him $400/month with the understanding he saved for a down payment on a condo. At age 28 he moved into his new condo and thanked us for letting him stay at home and save up his down payment.


  33. I was lucky enough to find a job after I graduated in 2010, but many of my friends weren’t.

    One friend’s parents handled her moving back in exceptionally well, I think. She lived with them for almost 2 years, and they charged her $400 a month from the start (about half of what she would have paid living in the nearest city). She groused about it in the beginning since her parents really didn’t need the money and she was struggling financially, but by the time she moved out she realized it had instilled good financial practices.

    The best part: her parents wrote her a check for $9000 when she moved out. They put all of her rent checks into a high-yield savings account unbeknownst to her, thereby “gifting” her an emergency fund when she started out on her own. I love that.

    1. Great story! If I’d ended up staying and paying rent, I bet my parents would’ve done something similar. It’s sort of like a parental 401(k) plan.

  34. Personally think its totally unethical to charge your children rent the only thing you should be teaching them is how to save money and its value. Sorry I just think its counter productive to decent family values you have kids because they are an investment into your future. Its a two way street you raise them and look after them with the expectation that they will look after you into old age. By charging them rent you are basically telling them you don’t care about them. When I die my children will inherit my assets and I know they will look after me into old age for this reason.

    Otherwise what’s the point in having children?!

    1. Much of this is obviously a case-by-case basis is all things are with personal finance. However, if the only reason to have children is to have a caretaker in your old age, then it might not be productive to have children either. There is no guarantee your child will indeed look after you, and it’s especially sad if the only reason they’re doing so is to get in your good graces for money. Charging rent by no means sends the message you don’t care, but it all depends on how you raise them. And lest we forget, lots of families can’t afford the financial burden of having a child stay in the home without contributing.

  35. Screw this junk. I don’t disagree with the idea that grown kids should pay rent on the whole. But please, do not be so insisting towards this goal. Consider the job market and particular situations. You said so yourself that a multitude of millennials are having trouble finding an entry-level career job and that is the modern reality for many college graduates. Yes, I do believe that millenials should pay rent in order to learn the basics of independent living and not to become bums of society, but how can you insist on this considering ideas such as this lack of work situation. Your article is straight up inconsistent, crude, and aggressive.

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