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Help grown children achieve financial independence

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I recently read that one in four people between the ages of 21-34 are still dependent upon their parents for financial support. The No. 1 thing that their parents continue to pay for are cellphones. No. 2 is car insurance. This leads me to believe that these young people also live with their parents. Since the Great Recession, people in this age group have had the highest unemployment rate. They also have a lot of debt, partly due to student loans but also due to auto loans. This is a rough way to start out in life.

The second part of this problem is the parents, who are paying their children’s bills instead of saving that money for their own retirement. I understand helping family, but I wonder if too much help is creating some of this dependency. If your kids are still living at home and you are paying their bills, what can you do to help them become independent? Here are some ideas.

The first thing you can do is help them create a financial plan. They need to share their income, expenses and debt information with you so you can guide them in the right direction. Talk about their income, what they want to earn and their ideas for getting there. Go over their expenses and debt, and see if there is any way they can increase their debt payments to get out debt faster. If nobody has ever talked with them about debt, they may not understand how to compare the interest rates and the payment plans. Student loans, for example, can have a low interest rate but the payment can also be low, which means they can take forever to pay off. If you want to see the impact of extra payments on debt, visit www.bankrate.com and use their free calculators.

The next thing I would do is discuss the living arrangements. All chores in the house should be shared by all who live there. Next, create and sign a written rental agreement that stipulates how long they can live with you, and how much they will pay in rent each month. If they cannot afford to pay rent, what is another option? The agreement should lay out expectations for things such as cooking, cleanliness and noise. This may sound over the top to you but I’ve met with a lot of people whose adult children moved back in with them and drove them crazy because there were no rules and no expectations.

Lastly, share local resources. We have great technical schools that offer low-cost career options and career counseling. We have a local agency called GreenPath that offers free debt counseling. There are a number of local staffing agencies that offer temporary jobs that can become permanent. Create a plan, set some boundaries and move ahead together.

Sherri Goss is vice president of Rosenberg Financial Group, Inc., with offices in Macon and Warner Robins. You can reach her by calling 922-8100, or via email at sherri@rfmoney.com.

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