Mov­ing back in with the par­ents: ‘No­body wants to’

But the COVID-19 re­ces­sion is forc­ing his­toric num­bers of grown chil­dren to do so.

USA TODAY US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Aimee Pic­chi

When Lind­say Reynolds was fur­loughed from her events and marketing job at Dis­ney this year, her par­ents sug­gested she leave Florida and move back home to Penn­syl­va­nia to save money while job hunt­ing. She took them up on it.

“It was a good de­ci­sion, but there are days when you feel like an ab­so­lute fail­ure,” says Reynolds, 27. “I built this life in Florida and worked su­per hard. No­body wants to move back in with their par­ents and ad­mit they need help.”

But, she adds, it’s im­por­tant to ac­cept help when you need it. “None of us can do any of this alone,” she says, not­ing that she’s found work since mov­ing home and is sav­ing up to re­turn to Florida early next year. The coronaviru­s pan­demic is putting pres­sure on many fam­i­lies – in­clud­ing those with grown chil­dren. Those pres­sures in­clude:

About two-thirds of par­ents say they are pro­vid­ing fi­nan­cial sup­port to their adult chil­dren dur­ing the cri­sis, help­ing to pay for ev­ery­thing from gro­ceries to health care ex­penses.

Half are help­ing their adult chil­dren pay for ev­ery­day costs such as gas, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent sur­vey from Coun­try Fi­nan­cial. One in five has had their adult child move back home with them, ac­cord­ing to the study, which is based on re­sponses from more than 1,300 adults in midAu­gust.

Even be­fore the pan­demic, mil­len­ni­als were de­lay­ing life mile­stones such as buy­ing homes and get­ting mar­ried as they coped with fi­nan­cial stresses like stu­dent loans – with many re­main­ing in their par­ents’ homes longer than previ

ous gen­er­a­tions. But the pan­demic de­liv­ered an­other eco­nomic whammy to this gen­er­a­tion, with half of Amer­i­cans be­tween 25 to 39 years old suf­fer­ing job or in­come losses since March, or about 5 per­cent­age points higher than baby boomers, ac­cord­ing to Cen­sus data.

“This trend of adult chil­dren mov­ing back at home was some­thing we saw a lot of out of the Great Re­ces­sion,” says Troy Frerichs, vice pres­i­dent of in­vest­ment ser­vices at Coun­try Fi­nan­cial. “Now you are see­ing it hap­pen again.”

More sup­port dur­ing pan­demic

Dur­ing eco­nomic down­turns, young adults typ­i­cally have less wealth to fall back on than older Amer­i­cans. That may ex­plain why 4 in 10 par­ents with adult kids told Coun­try Fi­nan­cial that they are pro­vid­ing more sup­port to their chil­dren dur­ing the pan­demic than they did pre­vi­ously.

The data echoes Septem­ber find­ings from the Pew Re­search Cen­ter that a ma­jor­ity of 18- to 29-year-olds are now liv­ing with their par­ents, sur­pass­ing a pre­vi­ous peak set dur­ing the Great De­pres­sion.

“You may have stu­dent debt and not much sav­ings, and that's why (you) are mov­ing home,” says Bobbi Re­bell, a cer­ti­fied fi­nan­cial plan­ner at Tally whose 20-year-old son moved back in from col­lege in March.

Her 23-year-old daugh­ter also is liv­ing at home while work­ing and sav­ing money.

“It's re­ally not their fault,” Re­bell says.

But nav­i­gat­ing the fi­nan­cial, and emo­tional, highs and lows of th­ese re­la­tion­ships can take some fi­nesse.

Here are tips from fi­nan­cial ex­perts and fam­i­lies on how to man­age:

Don’t lose sight of long-term goals

Par­ents who help their adult chil­dren are also get­ting closer to re­tire­ment and may be mak­ing some trade-offs – like skimp­ing on their own sav­ings – to help out. Be­fore tak­ing that step, make sure to weigh the costs and long-term im­pact, says Chantel Bon­neau, a wealth man­age­ment ad­vi­sor at North­west­ern Mu­tual.

“If you’re giv­ing up a 401(k) match to send your kids money, be clear on what the real cost is,” Bon­neau says. “If you’re not pay­ing down a credit card bal­ance that has a high in­ter­est rate, then that should be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion. Make sure to as­sess all of the in­for­ma­tion so you clearly weigh your best op­tions.”

Com­mu­ni­cate clearly – and teach fi­nan­cial skills

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and clar­ity are im­por­tant when of­fer­ing fi­nan­cial help to an adult child, Bon­neau adds.

“Many par­ents don’t want to bur­den their kids and will keep the strain of fi­nan­cial con­cerns away from them,” she says. “Sim­i­larly, this can be a good way to be­gin a fi­nan­cial di­a­logue be­cause many fam­i­lies don’t talk about their pre­pared­ness for re­tire­ment, and long-term fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity or habits.”

A frank dis­cus­sion about fi­nances can help adult chil­dren un­der­stand that it’s a “zero-sum game,” Re­bell says. For in­stance, ev­ery dol­lar pro­vided to adult chil­dren means a dol­lar less to save for re­tire­ment.

Adult chil­dren: Pitch in where pos­si­ble

Make sure to help out where pos­si­ble, Reynolds says. When she moved home, her par­ents paid for gro­ceries, but she did their shop­ping and cooked meals for them. She also sought out in­come from gig jobs, such as babysit­ting and de­liv­er­ing for DoorDash, to help con­trib­ute to house­hold ex­penses while she searched for a job.

“I was just try­ing to let them know how thank­ful I was,” Reynolds says. “COVID took so much from all of us, but it has also given me the op­por­tu­nity to be around them.”


Par­ents who help adult chil­dren are also get­ting closer to re­tire­ment.

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