Seeing your child graduate from post-secondary education is a wonderful experience and a personal and family milestone. But what comes after that? A young person’s transition from being a full-time student can be both an exciting and difficult time, but a parent’s guidance can make a huge difference. In particular, helping young adult children better manage their personal finances can be an important lesson to learn whether they’re living independently or in the family home.

Living independently

If your child will be working and living independently for the first time (or with a partner, spouse or roommate), setting up house can be a daunting challenge in and of itself. However, there are ways you can help your child transition efficiently into a new life stage.

  • Does your child know how to budget? Don’t assume the most tech-savvy generation ever knows how to use Microsoft Excel. Suggest they work through a sample budget to ensure they’re balancing living expenses, savings and discretionary spending.
  • Make a checklist of all government documents and registrations that are impacted by an address change and/or a transition from being a full-time student dependent to a fully independent adult. This could include drivers’ licences, voter registrations and provincial health coverage.
  • If your child still lives within ground transport distance, having a meeting at a recurring designated day and time (ex. a weekly family dinner) is a good way of maintaining contact in a predictable and routine way. If distance is an issue, consider setting up a regular interaction through something like Skype.
  • Is your child ready to start saving for retirement? If you have a financial advisor, book a family meeting with your advisor and assess whether an investment plan would work for your child at this life and career stage.

Moving back in

It’s not uncommon these days for young adults in their 20s to be living with one or more parents. According to the latest Canadian census, there has been an upward trend in adults 20–34 still living with at least one parent, rising from 30.6% in 2001 to 34.7% in 2016.1 The reasons for this have been widely reported, ranging from high housing prices, uncertain employment markets, significant student debt levels and other factors.

However, just because children are “living at home” to get onto firmer financial footing, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t also be concerned about issues such as living expenses and budgeting. Here are some questions that might be hard to bring up, but that can form the basis of a sound and actionable financial and life plan.

  • Is your child employed? Is it a job on a desired career track or stop-gap employment until a career opportunity becomes available?
  • If your child has an income, what’s a reasonable amount to contribute on a regular basis to your household expenses? Even if it’s far below market rates for rent, automatically setting aside earnings for living expenses is a good habit to start.
  • What are your child’s longer-term goals? Paying off student debt early? Saving for a home purchase? Any budget plan should include earmarks for these goals as well.
  • Do you have a financial advisor? If your children have longer-term financial goals, a meeting with your advisor might be key in setting them up for success later.

Get in touch with a Scotiabank advisor to discuss how an investment and financial plan can also set up your children for future success.


1 Statistics Canada, Census in Brief: Young adults living with their parents in Canada in 2016, August 2, 2017.

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