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Multigen Living: Who Pays for What?

Jessica Bruno of FourGenerationsOneRoof.com shares how her four-generation household divvies up expenses.

At least once a week, I get an email asking, “Who pays the bills?” Sadly, many come from parents whose adult children and their families are living with them and not contributing a dime.

Before I answer one of the most frequently asked questions I get from readers of my blog, Four Generations, One Roof, here’s the condensed version of our story: In 2008, my husband, son, and I moved into my childhood home. Shortly after, my grandparents moved in, too. Oh, and my husband’s two daughters (my stepdaughters) visit often. Fortunately, we created three separate living spaces in my parents’ home of over 30 years, an expansive colonial we lovingly call “our compound.”

To cut to the chase: If your adult child is living with you (or visa versa), he or she (or you) should pay a fair share of the household expenses. And that financial arrangement should be worked out — together and in the beginning.

My grandparents have a separate in-law unit in the converted garage, so they have their own financial arrangement with my parents. At the end of each month, my mom gives me a piece of paper listing all the expenses for the house, and we split it down the middle. I give her a check, she pays the bills, and that’s that. Pretty simple.

My mom, my gram, and I each do our own grocery shopping. I would never expect my parents to pay for my family’s food! I mean, seriously, if your adult children are living with you and not paying for their own food, then shame on them — unless your financial arrangement is that you cover groceries and they cover an equivalent household expense.

Our motto is, “Pretend you’re living in your own home by yourself.” That means, we prepare our own meals and eat on our own schedules most nights. My mom hosts Saturday night dinner, when we all eat together, and a couple nights a month, my gram hosts a family dinner on a weekday.

Multigenerational living isn’t for everyone, but more and more families are doing it. Figuring out how to handle finances upfront makes it easier for everyone.



Jessica Bruno is the “ringleader” of Four Generations, One Roof—where she blogs about her multigenerational family’s do-it-yourself home renovations, room makeovers, project tutorials, and lives together.


Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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