Home truths for adult children and parents

27/02/2019
  • Nearly half of young adults living at home keep quiet about their savings and debts
  • Just over half of parents charge rent, and the average rent is just £161 a month
  • But most parents and adult children are open about their finances
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With the number of adult children sharing the family home with parents at an all-time high, new research from Charter Savings Bank1 shows they are not always quite so good about sharing details on their finances.

The nationwide study found nearly 69% of parents are open about their finances with their adult children and a further 21% would be happy to discuss money with their adult children, but are never asked. Adult children mainly reciprocate with 69% saying their parents know how much they earn.

But when it comes to debts and savings the 26%2 of 20 to 34-year-olds who live with parents – around 3.4 million people – are not as forthcoming. Nearly half (45%) have either debts, savings accounts or both, which their parents are unaware of.

Nearly one in five (18%) have both savings accounts and debts their parents do not know about, while some have secret savings accounts (15%) and others have secret debts (12%).

Adult children living at home are on a good deal, the research shows. Nearly half (47%) of parents do not charge rent for living with them, and the average rent charged by those who do is just £161 a month – a significant saving on average private sector rents.

This reduction in rent is highly beneficial to young adults, as three in ten (30%) admit they would not be able to save for a home if they did not live with their parents. It can, however, be difficult agreeing how much to contribute towards living costs between parents and their adult children, and there are vast differences between families.

Some parents ask for contributions towards food (31%), energy bills (23%), phone and broadband (17%), for example, but a third (33%) do not ask for any contributions at all.

This is at odds with what their children believe they are contributing towards, with 85% believing they put money towards food bills, and a high proportion saying they help parents towards TV and entertainment subscriptions (67%), maintenance (66%) and energy bills (62%).

What parents and adult children say

Bill Percentage of parents who ask for contributions from adult children Percentage of adult children who believe they contribute

Food

31%

85%

Energy bills

23%

62%

Phone/broadband

17%

60%

TV or entertainment subscription

15%

67%

Council tax

13%

49%

Other utilities

8%

61%

Insurance

5%

55%

Maintenance

4%

66%

Car costs/petrol

3%

60%

The study found that, on the whole, children are honest with their parents about general spending, although sometimes this is only because they are asked directly. Just over a third (35%) openly tell their parents how much they spend on gym or health club memberships, and a further 52% would do if asked.

The aspect of their spending that adult children are least forthcoming about with their parents is transport costs, with a sixth (15%) admitting they wouldn’t tell their parents how much they spend on their car, or taxis and Ubers.

Paul Whitlock, Executive Director, Charter Savings Bank, said: “Keeping debt a secret from close family may be tempting, but a problem shared can be a problem halved, as discussing finances may help alleviate stress.

“While living at home, young people have a fantastic opportunity to work towards clearing debt and start saving towards their goals, whether that be buying a property, travelling or further education.

“Saving as much as possible from an early age is a great habit to get into; even a small amount will soon grow. It also means people are used to setting aside some of their income each month, which is good practice for when they move out of the family home.”

1 Opinium conducted research among 2,011 adults living in the UK on behalf of Charter Savings Bank between 22nd – 25th January 2019
2 https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/families/bulletins/familiesandhouseholds/2017

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