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How I Moved Back with my Parents and Saved $10,000 in Nine Months

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by Martina, guest writer on The (Mostly) Simple Life

The term “I live with my parents” used to be an embarrassing phrase to utter.  My parents often joke: “at your age I had three kids and a home”. We are the one generation that did it right “went to college, got a degree (and if we were lucky) a decent job”. The reality is that Millennials today face a ton of challenges that previous generations did not, and 52% of young adults (18-29 years old) still live with their parents.

Saving $1,100 per month

I had just finished a Master’s degree and ended up with both credit card debt and a student loan. Moving back with my parents in their Chicago home meant that I saved almost $1100 a month by living at home. I used this money to pay off my credit card debt first because of the high interest rates (20%?!). I then decided to pay down my student loan, and start saving for a down payment on a new condo. In a year, I felt like I regained control on my financial future.

I spent my 20s living in a blissful pseudo adulthood.  Post college and my very first big girl first teaching job, I did what any normal 20 something year old does.  Worked two jobs, bought a luxury car and rented an overpriced apartment in the hippest Chicago neighborhood (with a roommate of course).  Fast forward a few years and a hefy masters degree loan later, I found myself in a situation where my then roommate was moving to another city.  I was faced with a choice; find a shoe-box size studio in the city and continue to live paycheck-to paycheck or  seriously reevaluate where I wanted to be in a few years.

Portrait of me and my mom
My mom and I in freezing Chicago

I had to do a serious pros and cons; the reality was I could continue living my 20 something lifestyle and never really get a “hang” on my finances. Or I could make the adult decision to move back home for a year, and set myself up financially for my 30s and 40s. 

Tips for making it a positive experience 

Making the decision to move back home and navigating the parent-child relationship is interesting at this point. It’s not the same as when we were kids. You’re now an adult who makes a decent salary, pays income taxes and has a 401k…. but you can’t quite get your financials in order.  

It’s important to remember that there are now 3 adults (maybe more) with different routines, jobs and ways of living.  I luckily have a great relationship with my parents. Here are some tips that can help make moving back home a positive experience.

  1. Expect that your parents are providing you with a pathway, not a destination

Your parents job is to help you become an independent and financially self-reliant adult.  Your job is to show your parents that they raised a thoughtful and capable adult. With that said this arrangement should be treated as an opportunity for you to reign in your finances, figure out a budget and eventually, just maybe (depending on the housing market) you can invest in your first property. 

  1. Communicating expectations to your parents

I made it clear that my main reason for moving back home was to pay off my credit card loans, pay for graduate school (I had a loan on my first masters and I was determined to pay my second masters out of pocket) and begin to save up for a downpayment (or investment) on a property. On the flip side, this is a good opportunity to set living expectations and non-negotiables (luckily I was an adventurous teen so I knew off the bat what would not fly with my parents).

  1. Offer to pay for rent, part of the utility bills, or groceries

You’re an adult now, with a steady paycheck and income. Trust me when I say offering your parents from the get-go to pay rent or chip in for utilities will do wonders. It also helps to establish a parent-adult child relationship. I was fortunate to have my parents graciously welcome their middle child (and a cat) back home-rent free.

  1. Cook meals for your family (or together)  

Moving back home and offering to cook dinner for the family goes a long way for your parents (hey they’re tired from work). Growing up, my mom placed importance around having dinner together as a family.  Living at home now, I cook for my parents and myself and make it a point to have dinner together at least 3 nights a week.  I also meal prep for my parents (in an endless effort for them to eat healthier). When I make our favorite dishes, I pay for all the ingredients and the groceries and do not expect my parents to reimburse. 

Remember to offer to cook dinner AND pay for the groceries. Not only is it thoughtful (hey you’re living rent free) but It’s a great time to bond with your parents as an adult while you learn how to finally make your favorite dishes for yourself and your family (I can proudly cook a full thanksgiving meal).

  1. Help out with household chores (kind of like the barter system)  

Growing up, keeping the house clean was a family responsibility. As our parents age, keeping up with basic household chores becomes harder for them to manage. My parents are at a stage in life where they can and would prefer to pay a cleaning lady to clean the bathrooms and do laundry. 

This is where their adult child (who is living rent free) steps in. Luckily I enjoy household chores and when I moved back home I realized certain chores became harder for my parents to manage. Example: My parents hate doing laundry and I absolutely love it.

Household chores ideas: 

  1. Do laundry and purchase the detergent and laundry supplies
  2. Make the grocery runs and pay for them
  3. Organization/cleaning projects. Our garage is an unorganized nightmare which my parents will never get around to.  I took on this big project for them.  Think of other “big” projects that no one ever seems to get around to…and do it!
  4. Yard work (my parents pay for landscapers but I still keep offering as a way for them to cut costs) 

How all the savings added up to $1100

Below is a break down of the money I saved while living with my parents.

-Rent: $800 (With a roommate).
-Monthly Utilities: $300 (Electric/Gas: $80, Heat: $30, Internet/Cable: $50, Groceries: $200).

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How I Moved Back with my Parents and Saved $10,000 in Nine Months

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