Writing a Contract for Boomerang Kids

Help! My 23-year-old son is moving back home, and I need to find an agreement as to rules, helping out and paying rent. Is there some kind of document I can print out and sign?

--Help! My 23-year-old son is moving back home, and I need to find an agreement as to rules, helping out and paying rent. Is there some kind of document I can print out and sign?

--Do you have a sample contract for adult kids who have moved back home? I am trying to address this situation with my 22-year-old daughter.

Ah, spring, the time of year when a young man's (and woman's) fancy turns to ... moving back home after graduation. More than half of college seniors consistently report that they plan to come back home. In fact, demographers say parents shouldn't expect to have an empty nest until their last child turns at least 24.

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By and large, parents are happy to roll out the welcome mat. It's only natural for moms and dads to lend a hand to their adult children. And parents and kids get along much better than they did a generation ago.

But the secret to making a child's return home successful, stress-free -- and above all, temporary -- can be summed up in two words: "The Plan." When kids move back home, the family needs a plan that addresses how long they'll stay, how much they'll pay and what the house rules will be.

Writing this down in a "contract" that you all sign is a great way to make sure you're working from the same page. You don't need a formal document; create your own by using the following points as a guide:

  1. Jim will move back into his old room beginning June 1 and will have saved enough money to move out by _____(date).
  2. He will pay $100 a month for his room and $100 a month for food, beginning with his second monthly paycheck.
  3. He will be responsible for buying and caring for his own clothing, doing his own laundry and purchasing items for personal use.
  4. He agrees to wash the car every Saturday.
  5. He will alternate cooking and grocery shopping with Mom.
  6. He will contribute half the cost of cable TV.
  7. He may play music and watch TV in his room, but agrees to keep the volume low after midnight.
  8. He may not have overnight guests, except by prior arrangement with his parents.

Next week: Advice on setting the terms of agreement (opens in new tab).

Janet Bodnar
Editor-at-Large, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Janet Bodnar is editor-at-large of Kiplinger's Personal Finance, a position she assumed after retiring as editor of the magazine after eight years at the helm. While editor, Bodnar was honored by Folio as one of its Top Women in Media. She is a nationally recognized expert on the subjects of women and money, children's and family finances, and financial literacy. She is the author of two books, Money Smart Women and Raising Money Smart Kids. As editor-at-large, she writes two popular columns for Kiplinger, "Money Smart Women" and "Living in Retirement." Bodnar is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University and is a member of its Board of Trustees. She received her master's degree from Columbia University, where she was also a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Business and Economics Journalism.