“This is your 2 weeks notice. Starting on November 1, you need to start paying me $500 a month if you want to stay here.” My dad announced to me.
“What?!?!?” I exclaimed. “You’re giving me two weeks’ notice or I need to move out?” I clarified, making sure I hadn’t misheard.
“That’s correct. I am renting this house. And you need to contribute now that you have a full-time job” my dad replied.
I was initially upset when my dad made me pay rent when I lived at home after college. (Photo Madeleine Korn)
I was at a loss for words. Just a month after I turned 22 and had started my first corporate job, I was essentially given a 2 weeks’ notice for my own home. I felt sick to my stomach as tears rolled down my cheeks. I just couldn’t understand why I was being charged to live at home. I took it personally and felt unwelcome in my own home. Why did I all of a sudden have to pay for a room that had been free to me for years?
This had ruined my after-graduation plan, which was to stay home for a couple of years after graduating to save up money and then to buy my own place instead of spending tons of money on rent. Plus, my 9 to 5 job was just a 20-minute commute from my dad’s house. It didn’t make sense to rent an apartment in the Bay Area, one of the most expensive places in the country, especially for someone making an entry-level salary.
I tried to reason with my dad, telling him that most of my friends lived at home with their parents for free. I also told him that the whole reason why I had decided to stay at home was to save money and that by paying him rent I wouldn’t be saving the way I had originally hoped to. He wouldn’t budge. Over the next 14 months, I reluctantly paid my dad $500 every month, and I absolutely hated it.
But now that I have moved out and look back on that time, I am actually grateful my dad charged me rent. First, it taught me to value money.
Getting my first full-time job, I was making almost double as much money as I had been making in the past. Instead of spending this money shopping or on things I didn’t need, I learned to budget and save, a very valuable life skill. Having to pay rent as soon as I had a corporate job, it taught me that I needed to set aside a certain amount of money each month for my living expenses — something I would need to do for the rest of my life.
It also motivated me to want to move out. I had originally planned to stay at home until age 24, but I ended up leaving just after I turned 23. Living with a parent after graduating made me realize how much I craved the independence I had back in college.
I really missed living on my own and feeling like a real adult. I figured if I was already paying rent, I might as well be paying it at a place I enjoy being. I think if I had been living rent-free at home, I would have stayed a lot longer.
So, as the child of a parent who charged rent, and was angry at first, but is now grateful, here is my answer to the question:
What works for some families won’t work for others. But, be sure to ask yourself these questions if you are on the fence about charging your adult child rent.
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