Couple’s happy retirement on hold until son moves out

happy retirement coupleHANDS OFF THE RETIREMENT POT


Enjoying a happy retirement for many couples means that they are able to use the money they saved to live out their retirement dreams and fund everyday expenses.

For some young adults living at home can be embarrassing and for others it’s a great way to save up cash, pay down debt and to start life on their own.

What happens though when the money you save for retirement is being spent on your kids because they move back home and/or always in need of cash?


Moving back home with the parents


Parenting is a hot topic no matter what age your children are but none the less it’s still a hardship many parents face when they don’t have the answers. Sometimes the solution is easily solved and other times it’s a sensitive matter especially when it has to deal with finances and life in general.

I’m pretty sure some parents out there wish that their kids are only sticking around for a short period to save up money to move out on their own. There are kids though that have no intentions but to live off their parents hard-earned money because they are too lazy to find a job and they get comfortable with the convenient life of mom and dad.

Sure, we all have our ‘problems’ but to make yourself your parents problem especially as an adult can be taxing on them and you know what, most parents won’t tell you that it is. They love you to bits and they want to see you happy but deep inside they never expected to have you living with them as an adult especially if you are not paying your way and helping out around the house.

Some parents don’t even care about the money it’s more about the privacy and wanting their children to be happy which means not having them live at home and building their own lives.

Setting boundaries when kids come back begging to live with you when they are an adult no matter what their situation is really sets the stage. Today we have one fan who wrote in asking for our help because she has a son who just won’t get his life in order and is costing them their retirement money because they keep bailing him out of trouble.

Let’s see if we can share our insight to help this CBB fan and ways for this couple to motivate the son out the door so they can move on to the next stages in their relationship… the happy retirement they dream of.

Dear Mr.CBB,

I’ve been an avid reader of your blog for a couple of years now and I’m hoping you could help us to understand what we are doing wrong with our son.

We had a child a bit later in life because we were focusing on our careers which means retirement is just around the corner. Our son graduated from University back six years ago now after earning a degree in History.

I’m sure you’re not surprised and although becoming a teacher was his goal there simply isn’t enough job openings in our local area for him to apply to. Like last weeks fan who was embarrassed for not having a good job after University in a way I think our son feels the same which prompted me to write to you.

We’ve told him on many occasions to broaden his horizons but for some reason he wants to stick close to home. He has no other siblings so we think he might want to be around for us when we get older for when we may need help.

On the other hand we want him to explore the world and enjoy his younger years building up a career and hopefully get married and have kids someday.

We feel we are holding him back and the hard part is he works part-time which means we are often handing him money for car repairs, holidays etc. He seems to stay home often even though he has friends but we believe he isn’t happy with the way his life turned out. Overall, he is a fun young man to be around and enjoys having a good time and laughing.

We have admitted to dipping into our TFSA to help fund some of his requests because we hate to see him go without but we want him to know that it’s eating into our retirement money and that he needs to start budgeting like we do, find more work and ultimately move out without hurting his feelings.

This is always a tough situation for a parent and now that you and Mrs.CBB will become parents soon you will have a greater understanding of the love for a child but you certainly don’t want to spoil them or send them the wrong message about life and finances.

My husband and I want to start taking trips and enjoying the money we worked hard for in order to retire early.

What should we do so we can enjoy a happy retirement whilst seeing our son building his life?

~Carol & Pete

Dear Carol & Pete,

This almost sounds like the movie Failure to Launch however your son was launched and made his way back home because he left a row of crumbs leading to the front door. It’s a comfort thing for many kids. Better yet you were kind enough to invite him back into your home in hopes he would get back on his feet and fast. That’s clearly not happening.

Carol and Pete it’s not the first time I’ve heard of parents who want to see their children succeed in life after all that is why we have kids and motivate them to do well in school. It sounds to me like you did both and your son graduated University but is struggling to find a job because he isn’t looking outside the scope of your hometown.

So many young adults make this BIG mistake and end up working at the local diner or big box store for minimum wage because for many they are afraid of the unknown. As parents you need to encourage him not to be afraid of the world and provide him with the support he needs to explore new horizons.

I moved back home just before I moved to Canada and I’ll admit it was tough especially after owning two homes but my parents knew I wasn’t sticking around. My parents also knew that I was well-travelled and that I had the world at my disposal. My mum and dad were not afraid of me moving to Canada they were thrilled.

They love my wife and they knew that there would be opportunity for me here and that I would let nothing stand in my way. They were right about me and I know that without their nurturing ways over the years I wouldn’t be so open to what lurks in different countries.

I believe that teaching kids about life and culture should start from a young age. I’m no parenting expert by any means but I do know what worked on me. You said you’ve read my blog for a while now so you know my parents taught me about finances from a young age as well. This helped me to get a grip on reality before it got a grip on me.


Happy retirement


It sounds to me like your son is not paying you any rent and you are dipping into your retirement funds to help him to enjoy life without consequence. This is not right. He needs to understand that your money is your money and he has to earn his own. You are doing him no good by handing him cash this way.

My parents gave me a loan once until I sold my house to move to Canada. In that time I renovated some bits in the house to maximize on the return from selling. It worked and my parents got their money back. That was the ONLY time I ever asked my parents for money. To this day I look back and cringe because I didn’t have an emergency savings something that I won’t go without today.

It was hard to do after being so independent but they knew they would get their money back. I’m not so sure you that you will be getting any of the money back from your son so you can replace the money you took out from your retirement funds nor do I know if you want it back. The point here is that he needs to understand how you both feel about the situation.

Maybe you don’t want the money back and that’s fine but since you are writing me today I’m going to assume that yes you do want that money back or at least want to stop taking money out from your investments.


Talk to your son


The hard part for many parents is having that heart to heart talk with their children especially if they don’t know how to go about it or afraid of the consequences. Yes, some children fly off the handle when they are approached about money and life because they ‘think’ they know it all and have it all figured out. The last thing they want is their parents telling them what to do.

Yes, your son needs to learn about budgeting and why he must take any job he can just to earn money or even two part-time jobs while he seeks out employment in his field. If he is not willing to break free from your hometown to hand out resumes to teach then he must find alternate sources of income that do not include your retirement money.

If you feel he is sticking around for the both of you and you don’t want him to, TELL HIM! I know that might come off as being too forward but if you want to enjoy a happy retirement you need to get on this situation and fast.

Your son is getting too comfortable with the bank of mum and dad and things are only bound to get worse if you don’t step in. He should be paying rent, he should be helping out around the house and he should be actively seeking employment in his field around the world.

He is old enough now that he should be able to control his emotions and understand that he not a child any longer. If you keep treating him as one he will believe he is one.


Depression hurts


Let us take a moment to look at the darker side of the situation which some people don’t take time to consider but it’s a possibility.

If you talk to your son and you find that what is bothering him is deeper than you believe than maybe encouraging him to seek advice from your family doctor might help.

Some graduates get depressed after school because they feel that they failed themselves and their family and they take comfort living back at home. We hear of graduates who take their own lives because of stress while in school but this stress can follow even after graduation. Understand the signs of depression and find out what you steps you should take as a parent.

It’s always easy to dish out the negatives but we don’t always know what is hiding behind emotions. So be patient, make a plan of action which includes talking to your son, motivating him financially, encouraging him to broaden his scope of employment options and have him talk about life with you.

Not all guys are that open-minded but as parents you might have the upper hand because you know your son better than anyone. In the meantime maybe some of our CBB fans will be able to add to what I’ve said but like always seek the advice of professionals and don’t be afraid, your son will always love you.

I hope you both get a chance to enjoy that happy retirement you dream of and that your son goes on to exceed his expectations of life.



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  1. You gave excellent advice, Mr. CBB. Back in the late 1980’s and the early 1990’s, my situation was similar to the son’s situation. I was living with my parents for a period of time during those years. However, I generally was working full time as an engineer in the Los Angeles (California) area. I did pay my own expenses. Yet, somehow, I could not get myself to move out of my parents’ house on a permanent basis until April 1992, when I purchased my first residence in a suburb of Los Angeles. My parents sold their residence and purchased a new residence somewhere else in May 1992. However, in January 1994, I went into a severe depression that lasted for nine months. During those nine months, I lived with my parents even though I still owned my residence, was making mortgage payments on my residence, and working generally full time. In September 1994, I sold my residence and rented an apartment close to my parents’ residence at that time. The depression then went away. I continued to rent until June 1998. Eventually, I developed the courage to become a homeowner again and I forced myself to become independent. Growing up sometimes is not easy. I knew that I could not depend on my Mom and Dad forever. Unfortunately, my parents no longer are with us. I miss them very much. I do know that with a lot of hard work and persistence, I became very independent.

    1. Thanks for sharing that Steve. Sometimes we automatically jump to conclusions about people when there could be more under the surface happening than we know.

  2. Great advice, Mr. CBB. I find this is one of the hardest scenarios for any parent to deal with. We love our children and are wired to protect them. With that said, we have to be careful that our helping him doesn’t actually hinder them from moving forward. As you suggested, I recommend a heart-to-heart conversation. Be gentle, no judgement or make him feel attacked and defensive. Find out what he wants to do next and help figure out steps to make that reality. Set firm deadlines and have him pay a fair rent. And I also like how you touched upon depression. It is a real possibility and requires professional help.

    1. I think many people don’t lean on the depression or other type of illness side because to most it’s ‘invisible’ but a very real issue that needs to be thought of.

  3. I couldn’t have gave better advice.

    I wouldn’t have a problem with my son staying home if he provided his on food, cooked for himself, and paid his own bills. I’d cover rent. That’s it. Otherwise, I’d be an enabler. Not gonna happen.

    1. On the flip side there are parents who depend on their kids and will allow them to stay at home so they have someone to take care of them for whatever reasons. It can go both ways and a tough situation either way.

  4. Another perfect advice Mr. CBB! We also had a neighbor that has similarities with him, he was already graduated, but has a good work, but still he wants to stay with his parents’ house, one of his reasons because he thinks that he can’t live without his parents and he really don’t want to go outside with his friends, so after work he has just come home, that is his daily life routine.

    1. Sometimes it’s hard for young adults to leave home because they are comfortable there like your neighbour is but at some point he may need to face the fact that he will have to begin his own life.

    2. Sometimes it’s hard for young adults to leave home because they are comfortable there like your neighbour is but at some point he may need to face the fact that he will have to begin his own life.

  5. I guess every family has different circumstances, and even though I’m not a parent yet I can give a child’s perspective on this. As an only child I can imagine Carol and Pete’s son is used to comfortable lifestyle and relies on his parents’ money. I can see how this habit is brought until now when he’s supposedly already moved out of the house. I think Carol and Pete can be more firm about this and tell their son about their financial situation. Maybe he sticks around because he thinks his parents’ financial situation is good enough to cover his living cost without him having to contribute anything. If he knows the real situation, it will be likely for him to try harder, at least that’s what I’ll do if I know my parents have to dig into their retirement fund to finance my daily necessities. Hopefully he will understand and be able to broaden his horizon and go out of his comfort zone.

  6. I can understand where this couple so coming from, our two boys still live at home with us. The older boy spent 8 years in the military and was released on a medical with depression. It took him a while to get to see a doctor who then diagnosed with with Asperger’s, one of the autism disorders. We have had two doctors question his ability to live on his own so he is likely here to stay. Eventually his younger brother will be stepping in to help out his brother. I’ve talked to him about it and so far he is OK with that. As he said, we’re family and that’s what family does..we look after each other. The older boy now gets disability payments from the government and a good chunk of that rolls over to us and what is left he uses to pay for his own things as needed.
    The younger boy was working part time after high school for a while and paying room and board. He saved most of his money. He isn’t working right now so isn’t paying board but he does help out a lot around the house. Because he saved so much we borrowed from him when his father was diagnosed with Amyloidosis.
    Granted he could find work if he left town here but between his brother and his father having him here to help out is such a big help for me. When his father became ill I was driving him to a lot of medical appointments and I didn’t need to worry about the older boy being home alone as his brother was there to keep an eye on him and the house while I was looking after his Dad. You hear about houses being broken into when there is no vehicle in the drive but we always had someone at home. Small towns like ours are not immune to this kind of thing. If I had to leave in a hurry because of hubby I didn’t have to worry about whether I Locked the door on the way out or what ever. The boys were holding down the fort. Things are looked after for me and phones get answered.
    I know that once the younger boy finds something he will be back to paying board. His brother is stable thanks to medication and currently his father is stable as well. Amyloidosis is not cancer but the word remission has been used. It was treated with chemo as they have found that works. The big difference is that with cancer you hope it doesn’t’t come back but with Amyloidosis we know it will, just not how or when. Hubby has been through the critical phase and is now classed as chronic. He has had to retire from work and collects CCP-D and ODSP. But we still have him here with us, we had a few months where it was not a sure thing. He doctor refers to him as a Miracle patient.
    I’m not sure how much this will help this couple with their son but life is full of surprises and not all of them are the good kind. Depression needs to be considered with their boy after all this time. Some people are very good at hiding it. Whether he moves out or not it needs to be a mutual decision and paying board to help out his parents needs to be talked about as well, if for no other reason as a feeling for him that he is not a burden and he can help out his parents in many ways. I wish the three of them all the best in the future what ever happens

    1. Thanks for sharing your story Christine. I was hoping you would because I knew you had one of those unique situations that many people don’t think might happen to them.

  7. Good advice, Mr CBB. C&P need to establish boundaries, which means no more money handouts and he should pay rent. They may also set a timeline for him to become more self sufficient and move out. It doesn’t mean that they can’t be empathetic, but they have to be firm. Otherwise they are enabling him and not helping him. Helping him would be more like helping him to get help if he is experiencing depression, which from the sounds of it may be a possibility. But even with an illness, it cannot be used as an excuse.

    We have a daughter who suffers from severe OCD which has kept her homebound for many years. We have learned to not enable her illness which makes it worse. We don’t request more money than she can afford (in order to not stress her out too much), but we do make her pay us an amount to cover her costs each month. This is how we are being empathetic. We are meeting our needs but not being too hard on her. We also have other house rules that she must abide by. Would I like her to be self sufficient to live on her own? You bet. But she is improving and I see the day will come some day, even though it still may take many years. She just recently got a part-time job which is a big step, especially since she is not yet finished high school and she is 24 years old. We are very proud of her accomplishment and encourage her but still hold her accountable. It’s not easy and I’m not saying I’m a perfect parent. We’ve made plenty of mistakes but we’ve learned along the way too. Good luck to Carol and Pete. My heart goes out to them. At least their son has a university education already, so I think the problem should be not as dire but just needs some tough love.

    1. Thanks for sharing Deb! I think Carol and Pete will appreciate the stories that everyone is sharing today. There’s no easy answer but certainly steps they can take to ease the decisions they make.

  8. I think your suggestions are spot on. I am a debt advisor and I was asked recently what the hardest debt problems are, and I replied “those that involve family members” – just like C & P’s situation.

    Of course son should be paying them rent, not them subsidising him. If he can’t afford to run a car, then change it for a bike or a moped. It’s hard for them to initiate the conversation but they aren’t doing him any favours by letting him live like this.

    Often at home even though he has friends may be a pointer towards depression though. Which is a different ball game.

  9. Excellent advice, Mr. CBB. I would add to give him lots of love and support as they help him to grow and branch out on his own. Often times kids who want to stay home feel under confident in their ability to provide for themselves. Best of luck to this family!

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