There’s nothing wrong with charging your adult children board
Tuesday, August 7th, 2018

If finances are tight, hopefully this is should be a no-brainer, but some parents do still feel guilty about asking their adult kids for rent. We hope this puts your mind at ease: it’s perfectly reasonable to share costs among the adults living in a household, even if one of those adults happens to have given birth to some of the others.

Where it gets trickier is when you could get by without the money. Does paying board teach children financial responsibility? The research hasn’t been done, but it makes sense.

Figuring out how much to charge

Long-term partners usually don’t split their rent 50/50. Generally, the one with the higher-paying job will pay a bigger portion. Maybe later they quit and go back to uni, and the other person starts paying the lion’s share. It’s the normal give and take of a relationship.

You could apply a similar lens to charging board. Are they a full-time student or apprentice? Then giving them a free ride for a while could really help – it’s hard to focus on your 9am lecture when you were up till 3am serving frozen margaritas. If they’re in work, how do their wages compare to yours? Probably a lot lower, right? It may also depend on whether you rent, own your home outright or are still making mortgage repayments.

Pitching in with the housework

Some people think getting your kid to help out with the housework is a reasonable alternative to charging board. We’re not so sure. Doing housework is just part of being an adult who lives with other adults. You can’t get out of cleaning the bathroom in a share house by saying ‘but I pay rent!’

Divvying up the work fairly is really a separate issue to divvying up the costs fairly – although if they go beyond ordinary household cleaning, you might want to factor that in.

Secret stash

Some parents collect board from their kids and put it into a savings account without telling them. That money can later go towards a rental bond or deposit on a home. For those who can afford it, it might be the best of both worlds: children train their savings muscle, while getting an early boost in their independent life, to put them on the right track.

There’s no one right answer. It’s going to be a very personalised mix of your circumstances and your family culture. The first step, whatever you decide, is to sit down with your child and have an open discussion about your financial situation and what a solution might look like for both of you.

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