My adult son has no job. Am I wrong to charge him rent?


Q. My son graduates from college in December and he doesn’t have a job yet. He says he wants to take a little time off to regroup, which means he won’t have any money to pay me rent. I don’t need the money but I want him to know he can’t get off free. He will do things like take out the garbage, but I’ll end up buying all his food and cooking, etc. I was planning to save the rent on the side and give to him as a gift when he finally gets an apartment. Should I let it go or tell him he has to pay something?
— Dad

A. Congrats on your son’s pending graduation.

You’re not the only parent struggling with how to handle the finances of an adult child moving back home.

Yours is really more of a parenting question than it is a financial question, especially if you don’t need the money, said Jerry Lynch, a certified financial planner with JFL Total Wealth Management in Boonton.

If he doesn’t have a job or any money to pay you, he will have expenses beyond rent and food, such as funds to hang out with friends or maintain a car.

Lynch said he’s not a big fan of kids living rent-free.

“It’s not fair for one person in the family to do nothing, while the rest are picking up his slack and paying for them,” he said.

He recommends before you son moves home, you negotiate a deal in advance that he will have to agree to.

For example, he said, make it for a maximum of three months during which time your son has certain chores, such as taking out the garbage, helping with dishes, cleaning up after the dog or similar tasks.

At the same time, insist he work on his resume and go on at least three interviews.

“I would give him a worksheet that he signs off on weekly that lists everything,” he said. “You, as the parent, must stick to the deal. There need to be consequences for noncompliance — no car works very well, or change the password on the Wi-Fi.”

He said if kids think they can get away with breaking the deal, they will.

Lynch said he is a fan of building good habits.

“It is really easy to establish bad habits — going to bed and sleeping late, partying too much, doing nothing except X-Box and a host of other things — and once you do it for a while, it is very difficult to change those patterns,” he said. “The sooner you get your son into the real world, with a strong work ethic and good habits, the better he will be long term.”

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This story was originally published on Dec. 10, 2021. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.