Updated: Aug 14
College is supposed to be a time where you learn about yourself and leave home on your own for the first time. For many, this is the beginning of adulthood.
But in a trend that has grown in popularity over the last two decades in particular, many college graduates decide to move back in with their parents following graduation. The reasons for this are numerous, but no factor places a larger role than personal finance.
This trend has only continued to increase in popularity over the last few years. Between student loan debt, the COVID-19, pandemic, and general cost-of-living increases, many college graduates now have no choice.
In fact, I lived with my parents after graduation.
Living with parents to save money
After I graduated in May 2018, I continued to live at home with my parents. The ability to save money was a large factor, for sure, but I also doubted that I was mature enough to go and live on my own.
So, as I matured, I also started to set myself up financially as well.
Here are the seven things I did financially to set myself up for the rest of my life.
1. I built an emergency fund
I knew that I wanted to move out of my parents' home within two years, so I began to research rent prices in my area. I also knew that I would need to buy a car, but I wanted to make sure that I was in good financial standing first.
It is a good idea to have a six-month emergency fund, meaning that you should be able to cover six months' worth of your expenses in the event of a financial emergency, such as a job loss.
Now that I knew roughly what I would pay in rent and monthly for my car, I multiplied those expenses by six. I also decided to factor in at least $300 a month for food, though it is now hard to eat on that budget.
All of this math showed me what I needed in savings to have an adequate emergency fund.
So, I got to work.
2. I built my credit
Fresh out of college, I had pretty much no credit history. I never got a college card or got added as an authorized user to one of my parent's credit cards.
This made these couple of years the most important I'd face in terms of building credit. To get started, I applied for and opened a credit card, complete with a $2,000 credit limit. Each month, I charged just 5-10% of my available credit limit, and I got into the habit of paying it off immediately.
Ultimately, I still didn't have enough of a credit history when I bought my car in July 2019, but my dad was able to cosign for me.
Now, just a few years later, my credit score is hovering around 800, meaning that I fully took advantage of living at home for those couple of years after I graduated in 2018.
3. I learned what I wanted to do with my life
While living at home, I realized that I was in the most financially stable position I would be for the rest of my life. I had absolutely no financial responsibility for the final time.
This made it a perfect time to experiment and figure out what I truly wanted to do with my life. When in college, I thought I wanted to work in financial services, and I took a job in the sector following graduation.
I quickly realized it was not for me. I didn’t really mind the work, but I hated the culture and could not shake the feeling that I was giving my labor to enrich a bunch of out of touch millionaire and billionaire partners and executives.
4. I started saving for retirement
Common savings advice dictates that you should save about 15% of your income for retirement. After doing so for forty or fifty years, you'll likely be able to retire. I was fortunate enough to have a job when I graduated, and I started working just 10 days after graduation.
Right off the bat, I begin aggressively preparing for my ultimate retirement. I started saving about 20% of my income for retirement between my workplace 401(k) and my personal Roth IRA.
I actually started maxing out my IRA while in college but didn't have access to a 401(k) until I officially joined the workforce.
5. I travelled
Just because this time is supposed to be once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you to get ahead financially does not mean that you can't have any fun during this time. My now-wife is two years younger than I am, so she entered her junior year the fall after I graduated.
During the spring semester, she studied abroad in Rome, Italy. And though I was trying to be financially responsible, living at home with my parents afforded me the opportunity to go out to Italy and spend time with her.
6. I prepared for homeownership
I had always dreamed of becoming a homeowner as early in my life as I could, partially because it was a goal and partially because I wanted to stop paying rent as soon as I could.
Ultimately, after I left home with my parents, I lived in an apartment for 24 months before I was able to buy my own home.
But while I was saving money and living with my parents, I began preparing for this ultimate goal. Of course, I was saving as much money as I feasibly could, but I also started to pay attention to the little things, like:
How to handle basic home repairs
How to complete home maintenance
There was more to it than I thought, and there is definitely a learning curve, but once you emerge out the other side, it all becomes worth it.
7. I took chances
I wanted my parents to think I was being financially responsible, especially if I would be living on their dime. But at the same time, this safety net of sorts encouraged me to take chances when the consequences were low.
It was at this time that I decided that I wanted to start my own business. And while I knew the day in which I could take it full-time was likely still years away, it felt good to really work towards a future that I was excited about.
I'm not telling you to spend all of your savings getting your own business off the ground. I sure didn't. But I did throw a few extra dollars at it when I needed to learn a new skill or leverage others' incredible skillsets.
Plus, I formed my business as an LLC, which allowed me to deduct my eligible business expenses come tax time.
Should you move in with your parents to save money?
I'll be the first to admit - living with your parents as an adult is not the easiest thing to do. And it may not be a feasible option for everyone. But before you decide on your next steps, you'll want to consider a number of things, like:
How much money do you stand to save? More on this in a minute.
Are your parents open to the idea?
Will you be responsible for any expenses, such as paying your parents rent, covering groceries, etc?
Depending on the answers to these questions, it is possible that you may not save enough money to make potentially uncomfortable accommodations worth it.
How much money did I save living at home?
You may find this an easier decision to make if you know exactly how much money you'll be able to save per week, month, and/or year.
Ultimately, when I moved out and bought a car, I started to pay:
$1,070 per month in rent
$400 for my Honda Accord
$100 a month in electricity
$250-$400 a month for food/eating out
Basically, each additional month that I spent at home living with my parents saved me almost $2,000. Of course, my expenses soon began to rise, especially after I bought a house, but I was prepared financially.
I want to hear from you. Would you, or have you, live(d) at home with your parents to save money? And if so, how much money have you been able to save?
Tell me in the comments below!
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