Parenting an adult: Not charging rent

My son is now 18 and has been working for a couple of months. We are adjusting to life parenting an adult. Once my son started work, I’d always assumed we would start charging him rent to live at home. To be honest, even if he wasn’t doing an apprenticeship or a ‘proper job’, I assumed we would charge him a bit.

It’s not that we need the money (although of course it would be nice), but it’s about teaching him that the things he’s taken for granted for the last 18 years do actually cost money. Mortgage (or rent), bills, council tax, buying food all really add up, and kids and teenagers have very little idea about that. I wanted him to get used to the idea of there being a cost to living, so that he is more prepared when he moves out. We wouldn’t charge him the full cost of keeping him, but just an amount that would make a contribution to the cost and that he would feel was significant – without leaving him broke.

But my husband (who takes all the big financial decisions in our house, just because he is better at it) had other ideas. He doesn’t want to take my son’s money off him when we don’t need it. He would rather he put it aside for the future.

So my son isn’t currently paying any rent to live at home. Instead he has to put away half of his earnings in a separate savings account every month, to save up for a deposit on a flat. If he doesn’t put away half of his earnings, we will start to change him rent, as we don’t want to see him waste his money.

And while we’re not charging him, rent, we’re also not splashing out on unnecessary stuff for him. So if he wants to eat something different from the rest of us, he buys it himself. There’s no way he’s going to live here rent-free and then expect us to buy fancy food for him.

I would like to see him trying a bit harder round the house to clear up after himself (and possibly even do jobs that benefit the whole family rather than just himself), to acknowledge that he is an adult in the very fortunate position of living rent-free. I’ll be honest, that is still very much a work in progress. If he continues to treat the house as a hotel in the long-term, I wouldn’t be averse to charging him some rent in the future.

We’re lucky that we are in a position where we don’t have to charge my grown up son rent. I realise that for many people it isn’t an option and that their adult children do have to contribute to the household.

What do you think? Do you charge your adult children rent? 

Rent, Not charging rent, Money, Parenting an adult - not charging rent

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. My mum started charging me rent when i was at uni and came hkme for holidays. She wasno longer getting my dependent pension from my dad’s work because i aas getting it. She was a singke parent and £200 a month is a lot to lose but then gave to pay the extra water, electricity, food when i was home. I suspect my OH would be like yours when N is grown up and working. I think I would get N to pay for his food and he would have to do his own washing etc.

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    • I’ve never heard of anyone charging a student rent during the holidays, but can see why your mum did that. I can’t see myself ever making my kids do their own washing while they are living under our roof.

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  2. I think this is a brilliant idea. You’re teaching him the value of money while helping him to save for the future. I hope I’ll be in a position to do the same for my children one day.

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    • Thanks very much! I wouldn’t have thought of it myself, but now we’re doing it, it does feel like the right thing to do. We’re lucky to be in a position where we can afford to do it. x

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  3. I totally like your husband’s idea – it is a fantastic way for your son to save for the future! However, I do not envy still having to tidy up for him…I’d certainly be looking at giving him a ‘cleaning fee invoice’ if it doesn’t improve! 😉
    I have a while yet to think about charging my daughter rent, I will have to see when the time comes. Sim x

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    • Thanks very much. I’m really glad we are in a position to be able to do this for my son. The tidiness is definitely annoying though and I wouldn’t rule out charging him something for it at some point in the future.

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  4. We charge(d) both of ours 10% of their wages every month which is alot less than some of our friends do.

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    • That sounds very fair – much fairer than a set amount, as you know it is a level they can both afford, whatever they are earning.

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  5. I’m not sure if there is ever a ‘right’ answer to these things, you can only do what you think is right for your family. In my experience though, you don’t do them any favours giving them a ‘free’ ride. I’d be concerned that he isn’t accepting any adult responsibility by not paying his way or pulling his weight. He should want to do both of those things as a grown man living as part of a family. Plus I think it’s quite naive to think that you will hold any control over his finances now that he is an adult. You can’t make him save 50% of his salary. You’d hope that he’d want to because it’s for his future but things don’t always work out that way unfortunately!

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    • As I said, getting him to pull his weight around the house is still a work in progress and we’re not giving up on that! We are an open and trusting family and my husband was with him when he opened his savings account and set up the direct debit for half his salary to go into it. I don’t think I am being in any way naive that he is saving. He has always been very good with money as he has had pocket money from a young age and has always had to save for what he wants.

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  6. I think getting your son to put half of his wages in a savings account is a fantastic idea, especially since you don’t really need the extra money. Good on you for not buying all the fancy stuff he wants. That’s fair. My teen is earning a bit of money from her part time job and we don’t take any of it off her as I still get child benefit for her with her being at college but I make her buy all the extra things she wants like hot chocolate at college, cinema trips with friends and whims. lol

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  7. Thanks very much, it does feel like the right decision for us. We’ve always been strict about not buying stuff for the kids. They’ve always had to save for things from a very early age, although I will give the younger two a few quid for the cinema or lunch if they go out with their friends. It sounds like you have the right balance for your teen too.

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  8. I think as long as he is saving money for his future then rent does not matter. I use to take “rent” from my son as he would not save it. You are allowing your son to make a mature decision towards his own future and I think a more valuable lesson lies in what you are doing than what I did, but then my son was given the chance and blew that chance.
    Quite right he he wants something out of the ordinary then yes good he needs to work out what he can afford and what he can’t.
    Fifi know has a part time job as well as her Educational Maintenance that is paid to over 16’s staying on at school. Her mum gives her school lunch money and anything else she wants to saves and buys for. Her spending money when away on trips etc.
    Teaching them money does not grow on trees is a valuable life lesson.

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    • Thanks very much, I couldn’t agree more! My kids have always been good with money. They’ve had pocket money from the age of 4 and have always had to save for what they want. I will give the younger kids a bit of money for lunch or a cinema trip if they are going out with friends, but if they want to buy something, they know they have to save. They know people who are just bought things like iPhones and Apple Watches at random times – not even birthdays or Christmas – and my kids are as horrified at this as I am! Sadly doing this for kids doesn’t help them understand money and budgeting.

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