Back in the Nest Helpful or Harmful

Are your expenses outstripping your income?  Have you incurred debts you are having difficulty re-paying?  Do you want to go back to school, get a car, or make a down payment on a house, and simply can’t save the money?  Are you stuck on a financial treadmill that requires a change of cashflow? 

What are your options?  Cheaper rent, budget cuts, one or more room-mates, second job?  Why not go home to Mom and Dad? 

Boomerang kids are becoming more and more numerous in North America.  This is not necessarily a good thing.  Mom and Dad may rationalize that they are helping their youngsters get on their feet, but if they revert to the old, familiar parental patterns, they  unwittingly encourage immaturity and irresponsibility.  Next thing you know, the whole family is on the Dr. Phil show, wondering why things aren’t working out.

Before you start packing your suitcase to return to the familiar territory of your family of origin, ask yourself some searching questions.

1.  Do you have a concrete, time-limited plan?  It is one thing to stay for a year to pay off debts or save for a specific project.  It is quite another to drift on and on, using Mom and Dad as a safety net, never learning the art of financial responsibility.  Unless there are extenuating circumstances (such as parental poverty or disability), you need a clearly defined time frame.  Devise a financial plan  to accumulate assets, preferably with some accountability built in.  Work out your budget, earmark a monthly amount to be put aside, and treat that money as already spent.  Payroll deductions or automatic transfers can help maintain self-discipline.  Financial counselling is a good idea to determine how to get the best earning power from the money you put aside.

2.  Are you willing to contribute?  Self-respect demands that you pull your own weight and create a win-win situation for yourself and your parents.  It is essential to share expenses as well as participate in the work involved in maintaining the household.   Negotiate a fair monthly payment, as well as the labor that you will provide.  If you regress to childhood immaturity instead of behaving like a grown-up, responsible citizen, your return to the cold, demanding outside world will be a traumatic experience that you are not prepared to face.

3.  Have you grown up sufficiently to relate to your parents adult-to-adult?  If you are still emotionally dependent and longing to return to the “good old days”, look for another solution.  Learning to stand on your own two feet is more important than getting regular home-cooked meals and free laundry.

4.  Are you ready for the adventure of a learning curve?  You are not “going home” to re-capture the nurturing security of your childhood.  You are embarking on a new lifestyle with the ultimate goal of becoming a mature, self-reliant adult who has learned the art of maintaining financial stability.  

When times are tough, the parental nest may seem like a heavenly haven, especially if your parents are letting you know how much they miss you.   But beware!  Many boomerangers get stuck in parasite mode, taking advantage of their elders and squandering the cash that they planned to save.  If living under the parental roof is allowed to become an excuse for irresponsibility, it could be the worst decision that you ever made.