My daughter has asked if her little family and two dogs can move in with us next year when their lease has expired because they can’t afford to live on their own right now and they live in a bad neighborhood. It’s supposed to be temporary until they pay their debt, build their credit and save for a new place. They think it will take one year, but I know better. I am looking forward to them moving in, so I can have more time with my grand baby, but I’m worried that my marriage will take a toll or my daughter will put us in the middle of hers.
Carmen, this is a tough situation. I want to start by saying that I think it’s okay to say no, if this is a situation where your home and your marriage just cannot accommodate them in your house. You need to be up for the impact — she likely won’t be happy — but you can carefully explain the reasoning behind your decision.
If you do that, I’d soften the blow by offering to help out in other ways: maybe you can help them find another living arrangement, help out a bit financially if it is within your means, or offer a few networking connections if she is looking for a better-paying job. You might also talk to her about how she might pay down her debt quickly, by transferring balances to lower-interest rate cards or using her money more effectively by paying off the cards with the highest interest rates first (my calculator can help run the numbers on that).
If, on the other hand, you decide to allow them to move in, you need to agree upfront to a few hard-and-fast guidelines. Get them in writing if you need to, so there’s no confusion later. First, the timeline. If she says a year, it needs to be a year. At that point, she’ll be expected to move out so you can resume your life — this is not a long-term solution to her problems, but a stop-gap measure. Next, sit down with her and go over her budget, figuring out how much moving in with you will save her each month and how she can use that savings to her advantage. Help her calculate how much she can put toward her debt, how much she can sock away to save for a new home, and how much she can contribute to the household. Lay out specific things you would like her to help pay for — perhaps groceries, or the electric bill (and definitely dog-related expenses). And give her family not just financial responsibilities, but chores — if your grandchild is old enough, he or she should be helping out around the house as if it’s home — because for the next year, it will be.