Teach Your Children Responsibility – Make Them Pay Rent

Manufactured home Flickr Image from Afroswede

Now obviously I’m referring to children who are old enough to work and pay rent!  My youngest son recently moved out, and when I wrote about it, one of my readers asked me if we had charged our son rent.

My answer is yes.   I believe a young person, once they begin working a regular job, be it full time or part time, should contribute to the household expenses.   My son and I agreed that he would pay $200 each month for “household living”.    I don’t recall exactly how we came up with this number, but I believe it had something to do with the amount of money he was earning, as well as the amount of money we pay for household expenses.

How Much Should My Child Pay?

Two ways I would suggest to come up with an amount.  1) Tally up your household expenses and divide by the number of people living in the home or 2) Expect your child to pay 1/4 of  his or her gross income.

The basic household expenses which I included were the following:

  • Mortgage $534
  • Electricity $330
  • Water $40

There are four people in our household and 25% of the total amounts to $226.  AJ also paid for his own cell phone and when he became employed in computers, which was his dream job, he paid for a share of the Internet. He also paid for his own portion of the auto insurance, and once he had his own car, paid for his own gasoline and auto repairs.  Usually he and his father would do any auto repairs, so it was less expensive than taking to a mechanic.

Most families are not going to have such low mortgages, but they probably won’t be paying so much for electricity either. This is a place to begin looking for an appropriate amount to expect from your child.

Isn’t It Rude to Make My Child Pay Rent to Live at Home?

I don’t think it’s rude at all.  In our situation, basically living paycheck to paycheck, I think it would be rude for one member of the family to eat at home, live at home, have a say in how low the thermostat is set, wash and dry clothes any time of the day or night, have an income but use it all for buying video games or electronics or other frivolous expensive toys while mom and dad are both working and struggling to make ends meet.  That is not real life.

Even if you are not living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to make ends me, I don’t believe it does your child any favors to let them get into the habit of spending every dime of their paycheck once it arrives.  I think this sets a person up to get it into their mind that they can blow all their money.

If you feel really horrid about taking your child’s money, why don’t you put that money into a secret savings account for them and let it build interest?  Tell them about it some day when you think it’s the right time.

Did You Have to Pay Rent When You Were a Child?

If you did, this might affect your way of thinking.  Perhaps you were forced to pay rent and you thought it was greedy of your parents, so now you are determined that your child will have a free ride until they move out. I really don’t think you are doing them any favors with this mindset.

From the time I was 10 years old, I was determined to be a better parent than my parents had been. I already knew at the age of 10 that things were bad wrong with the way I was being raised, and I also knew if I didn’t do anything to change then I might follow right in their shoes, like it or not.  So I started reading parenting books from the time I found I was pregnant until my children were several years of age. One thing I learned is that looking at how you are raised and going the complete opposite isn’t always the best course of action.  You may in that case be swinging from one extreme to the other.  Most times it’s better to look for a middle ground.

I was placed in a foster family situation at the age of 16 and put to work as soon as they could find me a position. I was expected to give my entire paycheck in exchange for the privilege of living in that home.  It blew my mind when I discovered that not only was I signing over my paycheck, but my mother was paying “child support” money.

Had I not educated myself on becoming a different parent, God forbid I might have done the same thing to my child, or perhaps I would have done the total opposite.  But as I said, one thing I learned from all those parenting books was to determine the middle ground.  This is why I decided to require rent from my young adult child.  I didn’t want to take all his money, yet I didn’t want him to get into the habit of being able to willy-nilly spend his entire income.

He informed me that his having to pay rent was one of the reasons he was moving out.  Because he calculated with the cost of his “house living” and the amount of money he was paying for gasoline for his commute, it would cost him just as much to live in the city with a much higher rent cost.  So you can even look at it this way.  Although it’s painful for our children to leave home, we don’t want a fully functioning, mentally capable adult child still at home when they are 35 years old, do we?  I mean sometimes things happen and a child may need to return home for extenuating circumstances, but truly we want our children to remain on their own living their own lives.  This means we’ve succeeded as parents.

So tell me, if you were still living at home when you got your first “real” job, did your parents expect you to pay rent?  If you have children, will you expect them to pay rent? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

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11 comments to Teach Your Children Responsibility – Make Them Pay Rent

  • I think this is great. My 26 year old brother moved back home over a year ago and doesn’t pay rent or for any food! And my mom cooks and does all his laundry. I’d never move out either. ;)
    Mrs. Money recently posted..What Baby Items Do I Need to Keep?My Profile

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  • I like this idea too-even for kids who might not be making so much money, asking them to contribute a little bit would go a long way towards teaching responsibility. I watched a “Wife Swap” episode once where the guy gave his kids an allowance but took taxes out of it and everyone thought he was insane. I thought it taught his kids a valuable lesson-all the money you make will not ever be really yours.
    L Bee and the Money Tree recently posted..Hey I just met you…and this is Craaaaazy…My Profile

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  • My son lived with us for a year when he was finishing law school. He had to pay the incremental costs of living there. This included utilities and food.
    krantcents recently posted..It Pays to be SkinnyMy Profile

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  • If you have graduated high school and aren’t attending college and have a “real” job you should pay rent. If you’ve graduated college and live at home with a job you should pay rent. If you’re still in high school or struggling to pay for college I think it is a bit harder to ask them to pay rent but I could see the argument for it.
    Lance recently posted..Passive Income: Not As Passive As You ThinkMy Profile

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  • Elvina

    My parents had me pay rent. At first I resented it but honestly it helped me budget as an adult. I could not live any place rent free. I needed to budget for housing, car and real life. Whether the parents need the money or not, adult children need to find out about the real world. My parents didnt make it as tough financially as the real world but it was a real bill.

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  • Growing up, my parents made it clear that as soon as we were done high school, we’d have to pay rent. I moved out right after high school, and never looked back. Now (10 years later) I think they did the right thing… and my husband and I have agreed that we will do the same. However, any rent our children pay will be set aside in a separate account and given back to them either as a wedding gift or help to purchase their first home.

    I think you have to charge adult children rent… otherwise you’re teaching them to live with 100% disposable income, which is not realistic at all. if you don’t charge them rent, I think you set them up for failure (when they do leave home and enter the “real world”)
    Julie recently posted..Generation OweMy Profile

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  • Lala

    Im from Asia and we don’t call it rent. It’s called “giving your parents money” and continues regardless if you stay at home or not (quantum could decrease if moved out of course )
    Totally different concept !

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  • KDB

    Didn’t pay rent when it was my turn, but I did pay as many expenses as possible. I would definitely change my kids rent, maybe not full rent as I would a stranger, but something. There’s no better financial lesson than experience, so this is a good life lesson to learn as early as possible. Hey, maybe I should charge the young ones rent right now? Just kidding…
    KDB recently posted..CPA-Exam-ResourcesMy Profile

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  • Sandy H

    My sister & I shared rent when we lived in an apartment. After I got married & bought a house she moved in & paid rent. The rent she paid at our house was put aside and we bought her a very nice laptop when she moved out to get her bachelors. After she graduated she moved back in & was looking for a job. We didn’t charge her rent but set a time period that she could stay with us. She did find a job and moved out in the set amount of time, but we probably should have charged her rent the second time.
    I think if we had charged her rent the second time she may have made better decisions going forward.

    I’m not sure what we’ll do with our own children. I’m sure we will charge them, but add their money to their savings account.
    Sandy H recently posted..Land Payment: July, 2012My Profile

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  • [...] Teach Your Children Responsibility – Make Them Pay Rent [Out of Debt Again] One of the arguments for paying your kids an allowance for chores is that it teaches them financial responsibility, and that’s the method behind the madness of Mrs. Accountability’s argument over at Out of Debt Again. Mrs. Accountability admits she charged her youngest rent before he moved out, saying, “I believe a young person, once they begin working a regular job, be it full-time or part-time, should contribute to the household expenses.” [...]

  • [...] about our main checking account.  We used to have a bit more breathing room financially when our youngest son still lived at home and was contributing $250 room and board.  Unfortunately my husband’s business struggles to make overhead so not a lot can be [...]

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