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40% of Parents Have an Adult Child Living With Them, Survey Finds. Here's How They Can Still Prioritize Their Financial Goals

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  • As rents and home prices soar, many adult children are boomeranging back to live with their parents.
  • Those temporary arrangements may distract parents from their long-term financial goals, a new survey finds.
  • But such a situation doesn't have to set parents back, one expert says. The key is to communicate upfront and come up with a time horizon that works for both parties.

Many adult children are "boomeranging" and moving back in with their parents amid high rents and home prices, a new survey from financial services company Thrivent finds.

About 40% of parents reported they currently have an adult child living with them.

Meanwhile, 25% of parents said an adult child temporarily lived with them and has since moved out.

The online survey of 2,200 adults was conducted by Morning Consult between April 30 and May 3. Screener questions isolated the responses of 443 parents ages 40 to 65 with children ages 18 to 35, as well as 677 adult children ages 18 to 35.

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Parents said the top reasons their adult children moved back home are not being able to afford rent or home price increases, at 33%; needing financial support after graduation, 26%; or having lost their jobs, 17%.

Top reasons for moving back in with parents after graduation are not yet being financially independent, at 33%; trying to save money to purchase a home, 28%; losing a job, 13%; having large debts, 12%; and unexpected costs like medical bills, 10%.

Parents surveyed cited their own list of financial goals, including paying off debt, saving for retirement, saving for a home and caring for aging parents.

Yet having their kids return home set some parents back, with 35% of respondents indicating it affected their ability to save for their long-term goals, 26% reporting it affected their ability to meet short-term goals or pay off debts, and 14% reporting it limited their ability to save for their future health-care needs.

Adult children generally expect to contribute financially to groceries, rent and mortgage payments, cable, and utilities. Yet parents had lower expectations for how much their kids should contribute financially, the survey found.

About 70% of those parents are not discussing finances or setting financial expectations with their kids. Meanwhile, 89% have not set a timetable for how long the boomerang will last.

"Parents aren't talking with their kids about this, which means they're enabling their kids for potentially bad financial outcomes in the future," said Nikki Sorum, senior vice president of Minneapolis-based Thrivent Advisors.

In addition to opening those lines of communication about money, there are other steps parents can take to help make the transition smoother, according to Sorum.

Parents should plan for the prospect that adult children may return home. "It's highly likely that it might happen," Sorum said.

Additionally, parents should set expectations early on. That can help ensure parents are not set back from their long-term goals like retirement, while it can also help adult children get organized with their own priorities.

"It is so easy to enable them with your love, and the best gift you can give your kid is to help them be financially independent," Sorum said.

Sorum said she typically points adult children to a free online Thrivent program called Money Canvas, which pairs them with an unlicensed financial counselor to help come up with a plan for their savings and discretionary income.

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