How to Help an Adult Child Become Financially Independent

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Having children can be a wonderful thing; watching them grow up, change, and continue to learn from you is a process that many parents deeply enjoy. At the same time, for most parents, there comes a time for their children to move out. Whether your child is 18 and you are ready for them to move out and start paying for their own bills, or your child is in their 30s and still living with and depending on you, you have to set a limit that works for you. If you are fine with your child or children living with you well into adulthood, that’s perfectly fine, but if you’re not you will have to take steps to get them to move out. In 2012, 36 percent of adults age 18-31 were living in their parents’ home, which is a startlingly high number. If your adult child is still living with you and you want them to leave, here are some ways you can encourage them to move out.

1. Make a plan

Sometimes parents expect their kids to turn 18 and then just move out, but that rarely happens. Unless your kid has a good job before they graduate high school, they probably won’t have the funds to afford an apartment. They will probably need time and encouragement in order to start making adult decisions. Many parents choose to financially support or help their kids while they are in college, but not all people go to college. This means that if your son or daughter isn’t going to school, they may need your help for a while in order to save up enough to support themselves.

The first thing you should do if you want your son or daughter to move out is ask. If you’ve never talked about the possibility, they may have no idea that you even want them to move out. Explain exactly why you need or want them to move. Next, make a set plan. Determine how long they can live with you before they must find their own place. If you are dealing with a much older person (meaning not an 18-year-old freshly entering adulthood) you may need to be more specific: pick a month and even a day.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

2. Charge rent

Your job is to take care of your children until they are 18. This doesn’t mean that once they hit their 18th birthday that you should cut them off completely from all of your help. However, you won’t be doing yourself or your kids a favor by paying for everything. Kids need to learn the importance of paying for bills and living responsibly, and part of being an adult is getting a job and paying your own bills. If your child recently faced a financial setback, then you might want to be reasonable. However, if your adult child has been living with you rent-free for months or years, it’s time for him or her to start paying up. You should charge enough in rent to encourage your child to move out; if your kid can live in your house for much less than a comparable apartment space, they won’t have much motivation to leave.

Don’t let your child or anyone else convince you that you are being unfair. Helping out your kids when they have trouble is great, but allowing them to live rent-free when they should get a job isn’t.

3. Refuse to pay for things

If you’re still giving your child an allowance, stop now. If you paid for your kid’s car, insurance, cell phone, or anything else, you shouldn’t do that anymore. If you really feel bad, you can give your child a set amount of time (say, a month) before you cut them off. But make sure you keep your word; don’t fall into the trap of feeling bad and continuing to pay for things. If your son or daughter recently graduated from college, you also need to stop paying for any college costs that you were paying for before, including transportation and food. Like free rent, most kids won’t see a point to getting a job and moving out if they don’t have to pay for anything.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

4. Set rules

When a child becomes an adult legally, they usually expect to be treated like an adult. Most 20-somethings aren’t used to having a curfew, for instance. However, if someone is living in your home, you get to make the rules. Make rules that your child will want to break. Enforce a curfew, require your child to do regular chores, and limit personal guests. These rules might sound harsh, but they are completely fair because your child is staying in your home. If your kid was trying to move out, you might want to be more lenient. However, if you are dealing with a child who has been asked nicely to leave, but sees no incentive to do so, then you have to make them want to move out.

5. Stress the positives

Most parents don’t want to have to set rules for their adult children, make threats, or force their kids to leave their home before they are ready. One way to encourage them to move out without doing these things (or in addition to doing these things if none of them worked) is to focus on the positives of moving out. Most parents learn that kids usually don’t listen or react well to threats or punishments even when they are necessary, and adults are no different, so try staying positive.

Explain the positives of living on one’s own: if you live alone you can enjoy time by yourself without anyone else around to bother or judge you. You can make your own rules and have your own privacy. You can have people over whenever you want to, and you don’t have to worry as much about making noise. You can even eat what you want to. Basically, there is no way to boss you around.

If you try these five tips and your adult child still won’t move out, you might have to take more drastic steps. If your child refuses to leave, you may have to enlist the help of family members or friends, or even legal action help. Hopefully though, these five tips should do the trick.

More From Wall St. Cheat Sheet: