Who should pay for college tuition?

My advice was featured today in an article by allParenting:

Christina Newberry is the author of The Hands-On Guide to Surviving Adult Children Living at Home and founder of the site Adult Children Living at Home. She says, “I paid my own college tuition through scholarships and part-time jobs and my parents took care of most of my housing expenses for the first two years. While what I did would likely not be possible with current tuition rates, I am a firm believer that it’s a good idea for kids to have a financial stake in their college education by paying at least some of their own 
tuition. Having some ‘skin in the 
game’ helps them take their years at school more seriously and feel a
 sense of ownership for their education. Similarly, if students are living 
with their parents to save money while attending school, I recommend they
 pay some kind of rent — even if it’s only a token amount or if the payment comes in the form of doing extra chores around the house. This all helps with the 
transition from childhood to adulthood and starts to create realistic 
expectations about what’s required to survive in the real world.”

Read the rest of the story at allParenting.com

A strange little video from the Wall Street Journal

Here’s a strange little video from the Wall Street Journal, titled “Living With Parents Can Lead to Financial Independence.”

Gosh, I hope so! “Can” is a troubling word here that implies sometimes adult kids do not become financially independent after living at home. Remember, once your children are adults, the main goal of any stay at home should be to get them to the stage where they don’t need you anymore — that is, to get them to financial independence.

In any case, it’s peculiar in that there seems to be just one example of a woman (in her 30s, so I’m not sure she’s a “girl,” which is what the guest calls her) who happened to avoid being personally hit by the housing crisis of 2008 because she was living with her parents at the time. There’s no actual information about how living with your parents could be seen as financially empowering, which is what the title seems to promise. It would be more accurate to title this video “Living with your parents will save you money.” But this is obvious, no?

One final thing before I actually show you the video. The jokey way these two men chat about the idea of living at home troubles me a bit. Essentially they seem to be saying, Ah, well, as log as you’re all buddies, it will work out just fine. I’d suggest this is the kind of attitude that leads families to end up in situations of conflict. Planning (a timeline and expectations for the stay at home) and budgeting are both hugely important to making the situation work.

Anyway, here’s the video. What do you think? (Note: There’s a 15-second ad before the video starts.)

Planning for your adult child's return home

My advice was featured today in EverythingZoomer.com’s Boomerangst column, which dealt with a family whose adult son is contemplating a move home after several months of unemployment:

“It’s tempting to think that everything’s going to go really smoothly, but that rarely happens by itself,” says Christina Newberry, founder of the website adultchildrenlivingathome.com and the author of The Hands-on Guide to Surviving Adult Children Living at Home.

You can read the rest of the article, including my advice about two documents every family should put together before adult kids move home, here.

Advice for living with boomerang kids: Videos

I recently had the chance to do a series of interviews with Rob Carrick, the personal finance columnist at national Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail. You can now watch videos of all three of those interviews online:


Here are a couple of pictures from the video shoot. Enjoy the videos!

rob carrick 3 roc carrick 2

Parents taking out loans to fund 9% of their kids' college costs: Infographic

Online lender NetCredit.com has created an interesting infographic packed with stats about the costs of post-secondary education and how those costs impact student debt.

I’m not surprised to see that 28% of the average student’s college costs are paid for out of their parents’ income and savings. (Though I do encourage all students to pay for as much of their own schooling as they can to give themselves a sense of ownership and a meaningful stake in their own success.)

I am concerned to see, though, that 9% of the average student’s college costs are paid for through parent borrowing. That means the parents, not the students, are taking on loans to pay for college. Let’s hope those parents are being paid back!

Take a look at the infographic below for some other interesting stats and some tips on paying loans back after graduation.

Is it harder for young adults to find jobs than it was a decade ago?

Yesterday, I was a guest on CBC Radio’s national Cross Country Checkup program, which tackled the issue of whether it’s harder for young adults to find jobs than it was a decade ago – and what that means in terms of getting them launched into independence. It was an interesting program, and I found myself wishing I could jump in at many parts of the show, not just in the segment in which I was interviewed.

To the mom who said she was anticipating one of her three kids was likely to boomerang home because 26% of young adults do so, I wanted to say she might want to prepare for two of them: In Canada, the actual number of young people aged 20-29 living at home according to the most recent census is 42.3%. (It varies across the country, of course. In Toronto, which has the most adult children living at home, the number is actually 56.3%)

I had a great twitter interaction with Sumaiya Ahmed, who took some ribbing from guest host Suhana Meharchand for suggesting parents should help their adult children network to find a job. It turns out we agree that parents can be a positive force in their children’s job search, but that it’s also possible to take that help too far.

I wanted to talk to some of the young people who called in saying that it was just too hard to find work that was fulfilling, and that they were giving up high-paying jobs (and expecting financial help from their parents) to pursue opportunities that better aligned with their dreams. I wanted to tell them that pursing your dreams is certainly a worthwhile endeavor, but that in your thirties it’s not your parents job to pay for it (it can be financially challenging for them, too), and sometimes your job will simply not be the source of your life’s fulfilment. Certainly the jobs you have to take on to build experience in the early stages of your career are likely to be less than you’d dreamed. But you need to build experience and gain skills that provide value to an employer before you have the bargaining power to craft your dream career.

All of that to say that if you missed the show, you can listen to it here. My segment begins at about 1:16:00.

Today's CBC Radio Cross Country Checkup is all about adult kids living at home

This afternoon’s Cross Country Checkup call-in show tackles the issue of adult children living at home — and whether it’s harder for young people today to find a job. The show airs 4-6 p.m. Eastern time (1-3 Pacific). I’ll be on in the second hour of the program. You can find more information about the show and get the phone number to call in here.

How old is too old to take money from your parents?

The Debaters is a debate-format comedy program produced by CBC (the national broadcaster) in Canada. This morning, they took on the subject of whether it’s acceptable to ask your parents for money after you turn 30. It’s a comedy show, so the arguments are pretty ridiculous, but it may provide some comic relief for those whose kids are well past 30 and still relying on the Bank of Mom and Dad.

You can listen to a short clip for free on the CBC website, or download the entire episode from iTunes.

What to do with an adult child's stuff when they move home

A reader recently asked me what adult children who have had their own home should do with all their accumulated stuff when moving back in with their parents. Should they put it in storage? Should the parents put some things in storage? Here’s my answer:

I would highly recommend against the parents putting any items in storage – this sends all the wrong signals about who the home belongs to. But it could certainly make sense for adult children to put their things in storage – basically anything that won’t fit in their own room or be useful to other household members. Two key points one this.

  1. The adult child should pay to store their own items if they are
    stored outside the home.
  2. If the items are stored in the home – in the basement, garage, etc. – the adult child absolutely must take them (or get rid of them) once they do move out again.