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Is it OK for Mom and Dad to Pay for Your Cell Phone?

Serio says going over her allotted text messages prompted her parents to get an unlimited texting plan. Another time, her father emailed her about an extra $60 charge from a work call she made to Canada. She resolved that issue by getting reimbursed by her employer.

Some adult children reimburse their parents for their portion of the family cell phone bill. Kristen Barrett, a 26-year-old PR and marketing manager in Phoenix, Ariz. who is engaged and owns her own home, sends her mother $60 a month to cover her portion of the family cell phone bill. "My family does not talk on the phone very often, and if we do, it's usually to each other or other Verizon members, whom we can call for free," she said.

Some older adult children actually pay for their parents' or siblings cell phones instead of the reverse. Betsy A. Riley, a writer and artist in Maryland, says she and her husband pay for her brother in Georgia and her mother-in-law in Tennessee to be on their family plan.

"At the time, my brother was starting a new job and money was tight," she said. "I could add him to my plan for $9, which was cheaper than he could get his own plan. We wanted my mother-in-law to have a cell phone for safety, and she wasn't going to get one herself." This arrangement allowed Riley peace of mind while letting her avoid long-distance fees.

Despite the potential money savings of the family plan, experts cautioned that adult children should eventually get a cell phone plan separate from their parents to signal their independence.

"At some point, we all have to shoulder our own expenses without being under the umbrella of our parents ... not prolong our adolescence," says Weaver.

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