Save Money Living at Home: 16 Tips for Boomerang Kids
Up to 53% of 18-24 year olds take on the label of “boomerang kid,” meaning an adult who moves back in with their parents. For recent grads, moving back in with mom and dad can be tough after having four years of freedom at college. However, I know from personal experience there are ways to make moving home not just tolerable, but enjoyable as well. (See also: 17 Reasons New Grads Make Great Employees)
I have been a boomerang kid twice. A year after I graduated from UCSB, I moved back home to be closer to my friends and family. The second time was when my apartment caught on fire, and my roommate and I had to be out of the apartment for six months due to an asbestos contamination. Both times, I wasn’t exactly thrilled to move back home — like most young people I enjoy being independent. But it was a good experience that helped me save some money and get back on my feet.
Here are some tips for my fellow boomerang kids to make your return to the nest pleasant and productive.
1. Realize It’s Going to Be Different
Don’t expect moving home after graduation to be anything like your life at college or even your life at home prior to going to school. Your days of drinking milk straight from the carton are officially over, and chances are your mom won’t be making dinner for you every night. I won’t lie; it was an adjustment for me when I had to start using a bowl for my ice cream instead of eating straight from the box. Realize that your parents are going to expect you to be a mostly self-sufficient, respectful adult, not a crazy college student or the young boy or girl they lived with before you went to college.
2. Remember: You Can Save Over $10,000 a Year
Sure, living with mom and dad again may not be ideal, but did you know the average rent in the United States for a 1-bedroom apartment in a city is $890 per month? That means that by moving back in with your parents, you might be saving over $10,000 a year on rent alone! Even if you end paying rent to your parents, the money is staying in the family, and your parents can use your rent to pay off their mortgage or contribute to their retirement savings.
Living at home can also save you money on basic utilities, TV/phone/Internet expenses, subscription services like Netflix, and even warehouse club memberships. Better yet, you won’t have to spend money on travel expenses to see your family on holidays.
3. Set a Goal and a Deadline
Obviously you don’t want to live with your parents forever. Set a specific goal — for example, paying off your student loans — then evaluate the steps needed to accomplish that goal. Create a budget detailing how you will turn the savings realized from living at home into extra student loan payments. Use that budget to project a reasonable deadline for paying off your loans and moving out. Having this deadline in mind will keep you motivated and focused on your goal.
4. Understand Financial Expectations
When you move back into your parents’ house, sit down with them and discuss their financial expectations. Do they want you to pay some form of rent? Contribute to the grocery bill? Pay part of the utility bill? Chip in for subscription expenses or warehouse club memberships? Make sure you take the time to address the financial expectations your parents have of you and work out an agreement that benefits not just you, but them as well.
5. Discuss Around-the-House Expectations
There is more than living at home than just the finances. Talk to your parents about what they expect from you around the house. Do they want you to make dinner once a week? Keep your room clean? Take out the trash? Meet a curfew? Do they have certain rules about having guests over? Make sure you have your parents establish their expectations of you so that there is no confusion.
6. Exceed the Expectations
What better way to make your parents happy than going above and beyond their basic expectations of you? If they want you to make dinner once a week, surprise them by making an extra dinner every once in awhile. Take the time to clean the house or mow the lawn before you’re asked to do so. Sometimes I would go above expectations by picking up dog poop in the backyard or helping my parents do extra loads of laundry. Little things like that will keep your parents happy and remind them that you’re an asset to the household.
Yes, sometimes it is hard to listen to your parents, especially when they are doling out advice. However, just because it is annoying to listen to them doesn’t mean you should tune them out. Believe it or not, your parents do have some great advice! It probably has something to do with the fact that they have been around much longer than you have. When I lived at home, my parents had tons of helpful advice on careers, starting a company, and yes, even relationships. So next time your parents decide to share their wisdom with you, stop and listen. What they say may just help you move towards achieving your goals faster.
8. Set and Respect Boundaries
Parents are naturally inquisitive. If you leave the house, they are going to want to know where you are going and who you are with every time. Establish early on what information you are willing to share with them, and make sure they understand that you are an adult and will have a life outside of the house. At the same time, respect them by letting them know if and when you will be home so they don’t stay up late worrying about you (they can’t help it; they are parents). Make sure to respect their boundaries too. If they want you out of the house for a few hours so they can have some time alone or they don’t want you going in their room or using some of their possessions, respect their boundaries as you would like them to respect yours.
9. Spend Time With Your Parents
Yes, when you were a teenager, chances are spending time with your parents was the last thing on your to-do list. But now that you are an adult, you likely understand that your parents won’t be around forever. Time is short and valuable, so watch your mom’s favorite TV show with her. Go golfing with your dad. Make it a point to be present for dinner so you can spend time with them. I know I will always cherish the weekly “Grey’s Anatomy” viewings with my mom, watching the Lakers games with my dad, and just sitting at the counter eating dinner with them. The gift of time with your parents is something you and they will both appreciate.
10. But Make Time for Other Relationships
Sure, it may not be easy to invite over your friends or significant other over for movie night at your parents’ house, but it is important to make time for the people you don’t live with. If your parents are okay with you having your friends or significant other over for dinner every so often, invite them over! If your parents would prefer no guests, carve out some space in your budget for a small “fun fund” so you can grab drinks with people every once in awhile. Don’t neglect your friendships or other relationships just because you live at home.
11. Remember to Have Time to Yourself Too
Living with people can be difficult, so it’s important to take time to just be alone and decompress. Get out of the house and go for a walk. Watch the sunset. When I was living at home, I’d sometimes just get in my car and go for a drive to have some solitude. Make it a point to have some alone time so that you don’t get sick of your parents or start regretting not having your own place. Having time to yourself will help you maintain perspective, keep your cool if tensions ever arise at home, and keep you moving towards your goals.
12. Don’t Spend — Save!
Chances are good that one of the underlying reasons you are living back at home with your parents is due to finances. Don’t miss out on this golden opportunity to save. Just because you have more money at your disposal doesn’t mean you should go to the bar more, dine out five times a week, or waste money on cover charges at your favorite club. Show your finances and your parents some respect and put whatever money you can into savings or paying down debt. Living at home isn’t supposed to be your free ride to having more funds for fun, it’s supposed to help set you up to be successful financially when you are finally able to move out.
13. Have Family Meetings
Have weekly family meetings to ensure all is right in the kingdom of coexisting. Make sure your parents are happy with the way things are going, and talk to them about any issues you have had with being back under their roof. By setting up time to air any grievances, it gives you all a chance to work out issues before they turn into big problems.
14. Give Progress Reports on Your Goals
It is important for you to monitor your progress towards your goals, so you can make sure you are on track towards meeting your move-out deadline. But as you monitor your progress, keep your parents updated as well. Not only is it good for you to be able to see the light at the end of your boomerang tunnel, but it’s also good for your parents to be able to see that light too. They like to know how things are going in your life, so progress reports makes them feel included. An added bonus of keeping them in the loop? They can help keep you accountable and moving towards achieving your goals.
15. Be Grateful
Your parents are doing you a huge favor by letting you live with them. They are saving you money and giving up their “empty nester” status for your benefit. Yes, they are getting your company, some financial help, and some help around the house, but you are benefiting from this arrangement far more than your parents. Take the time to show your gratitude. Say “thank you” to your parents every day. Hug your mom. Relinquish control of the remote to your dad. Just make it a point to show that you are grateful to them for helping you out as you work towards achieving your goals.
16. Know It’s OK
You may not have gone to college with the intention of moving back home after graduation. You probably thought you’d have an awesome job with a great paycheck and would be living on your own. Sometimes reality doesn’t match your expectations, but you have to remember it’s OK. Many graduates return home after they graduate from college — in fact, 63% of recent grads know someone who had to move back home because of the economy. And remember you are saving money, which instantly puts you ahead of the rest of the graduates who are shelling out funds to have their own place.
Moving back home doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Put these tips into practice and not only will you save money, but hopefully you’ll enjoy your time with your parents as well, just like I did!
Do you have any tips for boomerang kids? Share them in the comment section!