Kids or parents moving in checklist

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The makeup of the typical American household is changing. Today, it's becoming increasingly common for parents, adult children and grandchildren to live together. At this rate, these "multigenerational households" could even become the norm, rather than the exception. This checklist can help you prepare for living in such circumstances.

When adult children move in

  • Understand costs and expenses of your arrangement. Create a household budget and track the actual payments and expenses. You'll be able to see which expenses are shared and which are related to specific household members.
  • Share the common costs. Work out a realistic rent or cost-sharing arrangement and stick with it. Consider both the needs of the household and the financial circumstances of each household member.
  • Separate the individual costs. Account for special foods, increasing Internet speed and data allowances, added fees for premium sports and movie channels, pay-per-view and Internet streaming services, mobile devices and the costs of additional television hookups and DVRs. Consider that electricity, natural gas, heat, water and sewer charges could increase significantly when there are more people at home.
  • Set ground rules for living together. Identify those spaces you'll use in common and those where each household member can have privacy. Work out a plan for each person to prepare their own meals or agree on a common eating schedule. Consider specific bathrooms for individual use. Agree on how you'll handle issues like noise, loud music and television use.
  • Share the chores. Use a spreadsheet, a calendar or other tool to help you track everyone's assigned chores. Garbage, lawn and garden care, snow removal, housework, routine home maintenance, laundry, food shopping, cooking and cleanup after meals should all be accounted for.

When parents move in

  • Financial issues can have an impact on both parents and children. Calculate household expenses to account for higher heat, electricity, natural gas, and water/sewer costs. Consider the costs of additional television hookups and DVRs, increasing Internet speed and data allowances and the fees for premium sports and movie channels, pay-per-view and Internet streaming services. Create a "master plan" for sharing grocery and food costs. Consider the combined income of the household when you're assessing household costs. Consider whether your parents' added financial contributions could allow you to increase your long-term savings. Consider whether your parents' reduced living expenses might allow them to reduce their retirement fund withdrawals.
  • Assess the health and welfare needs of the parent and consider how those needs may be addressed. Work out realistic plans to help a parent who cannot come and go freely. (See the related checklist on caring for a loved one for more help on becoming the caregiver for someone in need.)
  • A grandparent can be a great babysitter, but consider the responsibilities carefully. Discuss how much time each will spend with the children and how much time each will be able to take for themselves. Come up with ground rules on how to approach discipline, food choices and on the children's use of computers, tablets and electronic games to avoid disagreements later.
When you live with elderly parents, you'll likely learn more about their finances. Significant changes in how a loved one handles money may indicate memory problems. Unusual activity in your loved one's accounts may suggest he or she could be a victim of financial fraud or abuse.
Here are some common warning signs:
  • Neglecting to pay routine bills
  • Making purchases beyond his or her means
  • Excessive charitable or religious contributions
  • Unusual withdrawals from bank and retirement accounts
  • Transactions on credit cards that your loved one cannot explain
  • Pieces of jewelry or other valuables suddenly disappearing
  • Insurance arrangements that change without obvious reason
  • Significant changes to an investment portfolio
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