5 Rules for Dealing With a Boomerang Kid

Adult children go out to college, graduate from school, and make a roundtrip right back home because they can't find a job. It's become a common phenomenon since the Great Recession. If you have a boomerang kid at home, here are five rules you need to lay down.

1. Communicate and set up clear expectations.

If you're a parent, any move by a grown child back to your home has to be prefaced by a lot of open communication. Will she pay rent or utilities? Who will pay for groceries? How long is she welcome to stay? The important thing is to have conversations routinely, not when something becomes a problem. In fact, a continuing series of conversations may be necessary.

2. Consider charging rent.

In general, I like the idea of parents charging rent. Yet that's contingent on your grown child having gainful employment. Because if he or she ain't got no job, it's not realistic to start expecting rent!

Set a timeline and let your child known how long they're welcome to stay. You might consider letting them live for free with you for 12 months. But let them know that anything longer than that and you'll start charging the going market rate for rent.

3. Know the hotspots of cohabitating.

In my experience, there are a few problem areas that crop up again and again when I talk to the parents of boomerang children.

First up is food. Nobody likes a conflict over who ate what and when. So buy a small second refrigerator and let your grown child stock it with her own food.

Laundry is another big point of contention. If your son or daughter were living on their own, you would not be doing their laundry, right? So don't do it when they boomerang back on you. Show them how to use the washer and the dryer and let them do it themselves.

Finally, there's the question of whether your son or daughter can have a friend spend the night. Again, this is a highly individual choice that I can't advise you on; just know that the more you set up the rules up front, the fewer headaches you'll have down the road.

4. Don't co-sign a car loan for a grown child.

Getting into debt over a car is a classic mistake many people make in their early 20s. With that first job comes the temptation to have a fancy ride. Not a good idea!

If your grown child needs to buy a car while living at home, you can either lend her the money yourself or help her find the best deal on a car note. Credit unions are generally the best places to get a car loan. Have your son or daughter visit ASmarterChoice.org to find credit unions near you and see which ones they qualify for.

5. Make sure your kid gets a first apartment the right way.

Shared apartments are often the first exit strategy for boomerang kids ready to leave the nest. But apartment leases can be tricky.

When you sign a lease with a roommate, be sure you can foot the entire rent in case the other person skips out. That's why I've said to consider a six-month lease instead of a 12-month lease even if it's more expensive. (In most of the country, the supply of rental housing is rising dramatically, except in New York and San Francisco, so you might have a hard time doing this in those cities.)

Let's say the living arrangement doesn't work out and somebody leaves. Whoever is left behind is then solely responsible for two or three months of rent, not seven or eight, if you've signed a six-month lease. Of course, it could be you who leaves to relocate for a job opportunity. That's why it's wise to negotiate a relocation clause. Try asking the landlord for full lease termination in exchange for them keeping the security deposit should you get a job offer more than 100 miles away.

For more money-saving tips, visit ClarkHoward.com. Money in Your Pocket. Advice You Can Trust.