My 20-Year-Old Just Moved Back After Roommate Drama. How Do I Kick Him Out?

A grumpy looking young man listens to his frustrated mom while they sit on a couch.
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Dear Penny,

My 20-year-old son had been living on his own for about a year when he had some MAJOR roommate drama and had to move back home. Prior to moving home, he had been having money issues, and I had lended him around $2,000, of which none has been repaid.

Since he moved home, we've discussed that this is a temporary option and he must focus on getting his money together to move out. He's been paid twice since being home and blown through all of it!

I am trying to help, but he's just seeing it as nagging and rolls his eyes, which pisses me off. How can I help him without it being just a big fight? I don't want to have to kick him out, but he's been living here with meals for free for a month and hasn't saved a cent! Any books or online classes or support groups you can suggest?

-Wanting My Guest Room Back

I know, I know: You were really excited to be an empty nester, and now this kid is back already?

Since he’s only 20, he gets a pass on the boomerang act. Rumor has it that adolescence lasts until 24 now anyway. Sorry, sorry, sorry.

The safety net you’ve offered, both financial and physical, may be painful for you both now, but it can help prevent worse financial issues down the line. You’d rather have him at home owing you $2,000 at age 20 than have him show up at age 29 owing you $14,000, right? Right.

How much of your helping has been asking him questions versus lecturing him? He came home as a reprieve from financial stress and roommate stress, and he’s probably still decompressing from both. So it’s time for a softer approach — way softer. Ask him what he’d like to do next or where he sees himself in six months. The answers may surprise you. The answers may surprise him.

But that conversation — let’s be honest, do it over pizza — can help you figure out a plan that works for both of you. If he plans to stay a while, he’ll need to contribute to household expenses and pay back his debts over time. If he wants out, the idea of being ready with a security deposit for a place of his own or anxiety about his existing debt to you may be holding him back from asking you for help or advice.

You’re never going to get your guest room back for real if you don’t plan ahead as a team; you’ll always be nervous that he’ll have another misstep and boomerang right back to your place. Again.

Your struggling offspring may find solace in this list of money to-dos for twentysomethings. For a budgeting plan that won’t make his eyes glaze over, try the 50/20/30 budget that allows for flexibility in three main categories: essentials, money goals and personal spending.

He’s only 20. He needs a plan and someone he trusts to help him make one. Yes, you will want to put your fist through the dining room table if he rolls his eyes one more time. But if you drop your own attitude and preconceptions for a bit, he may drop his attitude as well. And that’s a good step forward.

Have an awkward money dilemma? Send it to [email protected].

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