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How to talk to grown-up children about money

Conversations with children about money don’t stop when they become an adult. With the cost of living rising and the difficulty of getting onto the property ladder, perhaps they’re still living with you. Here’s how to help your adult children become more financially independent.

Ask them to contribute to household expenses

If a grown-up child is living at home, getting them to contribute to the household finances is one way to help them towards a financially independent future.

Most grown-up children who are living at home will be doing so to save money. But this doesn’t mean that they’re your financial responsibility. It’s important to talk to them about how they can help with living expenses.

Communicating clearly is important. If you’ve never told them before, they might not even realise how much the financial support you give them costs you.

List the ways they can start to contribute. Then, together, create a plan with a start date to make this contribution a reality. Here are some things to consider:

  • how much will they contribute towards the rent or mortgage each week – for example, 20% or 30% of their wage?
  • what household bills will they contribute to, and how much?
  • are there any jobs that you might have paid someone else to do, such as redecorating the lounge, that they could do towards their share of the rent, mortgage or bills?
  • how will they contribute to any unexpected household expenses that crop up?

This will teach them about the importance of savings or a ‘rainy day’ fund.

It’s a good idea to have the financial facts handy to show them why you’re having this conversation. Also, show you understand that money management can be difficult by offering to help them work out a way to budget for their household responsibilities.

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Nudge them towards budgeting

Talk about the following subjects to help them start to think about their need to budget and how to approach budgeting:

  • income versus outgoings
  • fixed expenses (such as household bills) versus discretionary expenses (such as entertainment)
  • saving for wants (such as a holiday) versus emergency funds for needs (such as the car not passing the MOT).

Encourage them to complete a budget. This will show them what different items cost and how to better organise their own finances.

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Help them overcome and avoid debt

Perhaps they’re facing debt, such as student loans or credit cards.

It might be tempting to bail them out, but this won’t help them in the long term. If you really want to help, teach them about financial responsibility. Discuss the options for repaying current debts.

Share any experiences you might have with debt. And discuss how to avoid debt in future.

If you do decide to help them financially, make sure it comes with conditions. For example, you might pay a percentage in exchange for something you need doing around the house. Or, if they don’t have a job, maybe you’ll pay off a percentage of their debt when they get a job.

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Encourage career goals

If they don’t contribute financially because they don’t have a job, discuss their plans for getting one. And perhaps help them with their job search.

Even if they’re not working, it’s likely that they’ll have some kind of income, such as Universal Credit. This is likely to mean you won’t be asking for as much financial contribution as you would if they were working. But you still have a right to ask for some contribution, however small.

If you’re worried about financial abuse

Most grown-up children will willingly pay towards household costs when asked to. Sometimes, however, they can try to control your money. This is financial abuse.

Signs of financial abuse include:

  • demanding cash
  • taking out credit cards and/or loans in your name
  • making threats if you refuse to comply with their financial needs
  • becoming emotionally abusive about money.

When this happens, starting a conversation about money could put you at risk of emotional or physical harm. You might also feel isolated and afraid of speaking out about the abuse. However, it’s important to understand financial abuse is never ok. It’s actually a criminal offence and you can do something about it. There is help available so you can feel less alone. 

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More help with talking about money

For more ideas on how to help adult children, our booklet How to talk about money (PDF, 4.5MB) will help you get the money conversation started.

It includes tips on how to get a good outcome and what to do if you think the conversation may be tricky or doesn’t go as planned.

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MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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