I don't actually have any children, but my sister lives with my husband and me. I am 33 and she is 27. All three of us go to school full time. My husband works two part time jobs, my sister works one full time and one part time job and I have just cut back to one part time job. We all agreed that my sister will live with us until the end of the year. She graduates in October, so we thought this would give her three months to be able to work extra hours after school is finished to save up more money for her move. For the first year, she lived here with me when my husband deployed to Iraq, and she will have lived with us for another 18 months after he came home. Her responsibilities are to clean the bathrooms, to keep her room clean, to do her own laundry, to help with the dog and cat (feed, walk, kitty litter, etc.) and to wash the dishes after dinner (we have a dishwasher, so this is pots and pans, serving bowls, etc.) She is also in charge of buying all cards and mailing them out for everyone's birthdays/anniversaries/Mother's and Father's Day, etc. (It's a little thing, but it's time consuming and she is happy to do it.) I buy all the food and do the cooking. She is welcome to take food for lunch and/or dinner if she will be out of the house, but she buys her own toiletries. She also pays us $200 per month.
I wanted to share my rationale behind this plan with all of you because I think you will understand where I'm coming from. Everyone in my family was very upset with me when they learned that I was "charging" my sister to live with me. I don't need the money, although it does help offset the costs of her living here since I buy the food. I did it to help teach my sister how to budget her money using a monthly budget system that I helped her set up and also to teach her some responsibility. Food, lights, water, phone - these things cost money. If you are paying for something, even at a reduced rate, you still feel some ownership over those things, so she is more apt to turn the lights off when leaving the room, for example.
I can honestly say that I have seen a change in her since she moved here. She paid off the smaller of her two student loans, saved up enough money to move and start her small business when she graduates and has a nice emergency fund. She doesn't have any credit cards. I am teaching her how to cook from scratch and how to go grocery shopping on a budget. I taught her how to sew a button on a shirt so she could wear it again instead of throwing it away. I am trying to teach her about the importance of making choices with money. Sometimes it's ok to spend some money, but you need to plan for it and not do it if you don't have the money to pay for it. Even though we grew up in the same house, we have very different approaches to money. I am so grateful that one good thing came out of this war for our family - I was able to spend this time giving my sister the tools she needs to be successful in the future. I know she's going to be ok. It took a little bit of tough love and we definately had some arguments along the way, but it was worth it.
I'd love to hear other stories about this!
Alison in Pittsburgh
PS - Hubby is also enjoying having her around, but I think he will be happy to have the house to ourselves again :)