The Financial Implications Of Living With Mom And Dad

Recently, “Joel” wrote in with the following question about living with his parents after college:

Currently I’m a 22 years old and fresh out of college with a bachelors degree in Computer Science. I have secured a job which puts in me in a great financial situation – I will be bringing home $50,000 a year. This is more than double what I used to make as an intern, and now I’m trying to figure out how to make the best possible use of the increased income. Unfortunately I have roughly $40,000 in student loans which I will have to start paying on in October.

My question for you deals with my current living situation. I have moved back in with my parents, and I’m fairly happy. But how long should I be “mooching” off of them? Only for a couple of months until I find my own place? Or should I consider staying with them for a while longer assuming my parents don’t mind? It might be helpful to know that my parents live in a rural area which is 45 minutes from my job. I could find an apartment in the city where my job is for around $600 a month, but reduce my drive to 15 minutes or so.

Any help or insight on this situation would be greatly appreciated, as would any general advice to recent grads like myself.

Joel’s situation is fairly typical among recent college graduates, and it’s a situation that is fraught with a lot of issues, both financial and emotional. Here’s my advice for figuring out the best path through a situation like this for all parties involved.

Figure out what you want Are you ready to be on your own with all the opportunities that it affords? Or would you prefer to get a big head start on your student loans while in a safer environment? The answer there has a lot to do with your personality and personal needs than anything else.

Know the true costs You will be spending $600 a month on rent. You’ll also be responsible for your own food preparation and other bills. On the other hand, you’ll also be shaving a half an hour and at least a gallon of gas off of the commute each way. Have a firm grasp on what the real costs are and what the move would do to your budget, and also know how quickly you could pay off your loans if you weren’t faced with those costs.

Observe and respect your parents’ needs Are they enjoying an empty nest? Or are they really happy to have you there? By “mooching” off your parents, you are affecting their lifestyle as they move towards retirement – don’t make yourself an additional burden on people who have given you so much already.

Have a serious discussion about the situation Everyone involved is an adult, so have an adult conversation about it. Everyone involved should lay all of their cards on the table and talk sincerely about their expectations – no holding back. It may be that your parents actually expect you to or want you to move out sooner rather than later, or it may be that they actually want you at home for as long as possible. Perhaps they expect you to help significantly with the household chores and food preparation, or maybe they’d like to see a small amount of rent paid.

Plan to get out eventually If you do decide to stay, define a timeframe for when you do plan to spread your wings and fly on your own, even if it is multiple years in the future. An indefinite situation is never a healthy one, and having a target date in mind makes it much easier to plan for that date.

Have regular serious discussions about the situation if you decide to stay It may seem like a great idea at first, but after six months, the situation may be souring and it could be time to move on. On occasion, touch base with your parents and make sure that the situation is still working for all involved.

If it works for both parents and children, this type of situation can be very useful for a young professional just getting started. The biggest pitfall to avoid, though, is a situation where one member is harboring hard feelings that can fester and ruin a perfectly healthy relationship, one that is far more valuable than any dollar amount.

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  1. Wanda says:

    A 45-minute commute doesn’t sound too good.. I’d suggest that Joel figure out what his goals are if he decides to live at home (i.e. pay off $10,000 in student loans in 1 year, or save $10,000 for 401K/emergency fund/house fund/travel the world fund, etc.)

    That way he doesn’t “waste” his time at home, and when he leaves he’ll 1. have a great appreciation for the FREEDOM that comes once you’re out of your parents’ house, and 2. have a chunk of money to get a headstart.

    Personally, I work too far from home to consider living at home… so.. it’s renting for me.

  2. Kenny says:

    If Joel can continue to live as if he was still making $25,000 a year, he’d be able to but a big dent in his college loan pretty quick. I made it for a couple years on $22,000 a year, married, with rent of $660. Granted, it took lots of mac&cheese, but entirely possible.

    The decisions Joel makes now will make a big impact on his future financial security. His awareness shows more insight than most adults his age and older.

  3. j2r says:

    Figuring what he wants is the key here.

    I was glad to live with my parents for a few years while commuting 1 hr each way. I saved enough for a downpayment for a small condo.

  4. Along with the post yesterday about time management you have to ask yourself what your time is worth in other areas where you could be being frugal. For example if you could live on your own for $600.00/month and drive less and had more time to spend on other alternative income sources (look at several of the coder-for-hire sites for moonlighting opportunities to make some extra cash to pay off loans) you may find that time and money both equate to a comfortable standard of living and faster loan payoffs.

    Good luck on whatever you do, “Joel!”

  5. x-er says:

    Move out. Move out now and don’t look back.

    You will not begin to be responsible for your life until you take charge of all aspects of it.

    First you will be at home for a year, then when mom and dad don’t mind you’ll be there two years. Before you know it you’ll be 25 and still living at home.

    They’ll be looking over your shoulder. Not in a bad way, but they won’t be able to help themselves, they are your parents. They will want to ‘help’ you with everything going on in your life.

    If your parents don’t want you out of the house then something else is wrong as well. They need to let go of you. Their job is done. You can earn a good income and have a life of your own.

    Will your life be hard? Yes, it will be. The feelings of accomplishment come from working through the problems that will arise.

    You’ll be at work. You are going to make new friends. Want to have them back to your place, how will mom feel about that? Bring a date home? Don’t think so.

    There is more at work here then just paying off your student loans. In the end, how badly do you want to be an independent person?

  6. Angel Castaneda says:

    I suggest you try and make it so it doesn’t feel like you’re mooching off, but also so you can take advantage of this opportunity.

    The original email doesn’t mention it, but how about you pay *some* rent to your parents? If it would cost you $600 to live in the city, offer them $300 or $400, which would both let your parents make some extra money (for retirement, or what not), and would give you a taste of responsibility.

    The 45 minute commute sounds horrible, but if your parents are like mine, they would most likely only ask you to do a couple of chores in the house, whereas if you lived on your own, you would spend twice as long just cooking, cleaning, doing laundry and what not.

    You also mentioned that you had pretty much doubled your income, which is awesome. Pretend that never happened, and try and live with the income you had before you got this new job, and put some money down for those student loans. It would only take you two or three years to pay them off, and you could then move out.

  7. This is all great advice. I would have stayed home if I could, but I just couldn’t stand living with my parents longer. If his income has essentially doubled, that is $25k he can put toward the debt each year. Squeeze out a little more savings, and that student loan balance can be gone in 2 years. Then, re-evaluate where you need to be.

  8. Dave says:

    It’s difficult moving back in with your parents after having the freedom of living on your own in college.

    If you move back home, a plan to move back out (start by saving up for a down payment or something as soon as those loans are repaid) should be paramount.

  9. eR0CK says:

    I was in a similar situation and if I could do it all over again .. I would have stayed with my parents, paid off my CC’s, paid off my car, paid off my student loans, and maxing out your 401k.

    No reason to move out until it’s time to get married or you notice your over staying your welcome.

    $.02

  10. not sure... says:

    I’d recommend staying with your parents for a couple of months to get the feel of what life would be like. If you’re happy with the drive and most of your friends live nearby then sticking it out might be ok if it’s cool with your parents.

    On the other hand, if you value your free time and want to pull your hair out sitting in rush hour traffic every day like myself. I’d recommend moving closer to work.

    Chances are if it’s in the city.. you will generally have to drive less and there will be many more things to do without making a 20 minute drive.

  11. Amber Yount says:

    I wish I still had the option to live at home….I’d rather have a 45 minute commute than pay $1,000+ a month in living expenses.

  12. Ted Valentine says:

    Of course most people in his situation would live with mom and dad and then go out and get a $600 car payment (if he hasn’t already) justifying it by his cheap living situation.

    If this kid lives at home for a couple years he could pay off all of his SL debt and have a very sizeable 1st house down payment.

    Of course that is not what I did. I could’ve taken a job and lived with the parents after graduating. Instead, I decided to take a job in another city 3 hours away because I wanted my independence.

  13. Kevin says:

    I moved out at 22 and completely regret it. I’m now 25 and look back at the last three years. Had I stayed at home I would be debt free and sitting on close to $100,000 and could be buying the house I wanted instead of the small townhouse that was the best I could afford.

    Honestly though do what feels right to you. No one can tell you what is going to work out the best for you or what will make you the happiest.

  14. Andrea D says:

    I moved back with my parents for a year when I was 24. I was unemployed and struggling to find work, and I’m sure everyone would have said “Don’t do it!”, but I did it. It ended up working out really well. My parents needed help remodeling some properties that they were selling, and I needed food. I was able to help my mom with significant chores, bond with both of them, and take a break from the rat race. Mind you, I’m very close to my folks, but still. It was a big help.

  15. js says:

    I moved out as soon as I could. My parents were not easy to live with. I wanted to be independent and responsible, renting a place of my own. And that was all that mattered then, paying my own way and proving I could.

    Saving for retirement? Nah, who thought about that back then? The goal was just to break even and hey look ma I’m paying my own bills!! I can actually pay my own bills, ain’t it amazing!?! Buying property, nah, who thought about that back then? I think that if I had saved and lived at home, as my dad suggested, I would have been ahead financially for sure. But my parents would have been impossible to live with anyway.

  16. kim says:

    I’m not sure when having a second childhood in your adult years became socially acceptable or even expected. I don’t agree with it. If you make 50,000 a year you do not need your parents to pay your bills so you can pay off some debts. You are not learning to live within your means if someone else is paying your rent, utilities, and food costs. You do not learn how to function as an adult if your mom scrubs your toilet or, heaven forbid, still does your laundry. Get a room mate..or two..or three if need be. Be independent and allow your parents to move on to the part of their life that gets to be about them again. Visit often and call even more. You do not need to start off your adult life in a cushy situation to be independent. In a few years you will cherish the stories of how you lived in that less than great apartment and ate ramen for dinner. You are not truely an adult until you behave like one! For all of the helicopter parents reading this…keeping your children in a suspended childhood does not allow them to grow to their full potential.

  17. !wanda says:

    >In a few years you will cherish the stories of
    >how you lived in that less than great apartment
    >and ate ramen for dinner.

    Not necessarily true, judging from the comments above yours.

    > You are not learning to live within your
    > means… You do not learn how to function as an
    > adult…

    That depends on who your parents are and if they are willing to let you grow into an adult. One of my best friends, on the other hand, has very laid-back parents with a huge house. His parents don’t do anything for him, don’t care what he does, and are barely around. So, he takes care of everything himself and is happy for the space and the ability to tinker with the house (he changed all the lights and devices to turn on and off and dim via webapp). He could more than afford to rent his own housing, but he gets to save money and has a better understanding of what it takes to maintain a house. Nobody thinks that living at home has stunted his growth.

  18. kim says:

    …and yet his parents are still footing the bills. You just described a great strategy for parenting a TEEN that is learning how to take those first steps of responsiblitiy. Not an independent adult. You can not be an independent adult if you are living off your parents dime. PERIOD!

  19. plonkee says:

    If it was me, I’d be moving out. I strongly value my independence and I hate commuting.

    I think the most important piece of advice that Trent gave is to “plan to get out eventually”. Having an end date in mind is all important, as it stops everyone getting too comfortable or resentful of the situation.

    In general its difficult to be an independent adult if you are living with your parents. I wouldn’t describe you as independent unless you are doing your own laundry and actually paying bills – I don’t mean paying your parents rent, I mean the sort of bills that have consequences like the electricity bill. But on the other hand it could be a good short term solution to a problem.

  20. liz says:

    If you are going to stay with your parents, have the decency to give them some rent money each month. IF you were considering paying $600.00 for an apartment, not including bills, then you should give your parents an amount of atleast $200 to $300 a month and help around the house with chores. There is nothing more disappointing to a parent, than a young adult with a good job, living at home not contributing.

  21. Gayle says:

    I notice that all of the comments are from the kids. Here’s my take as a mom. My objective in raising my sons was to produce independent men who were living on their own and contributing to society and paying their own way. In my opinion you have no right to call yourself an adult without taking on adult responsibilities. Also, whether you realize it or not, your very presence in your parents’ house adds to their expenses. Paying a token amount of rent will probably not mitigate even the extra food and utilities. 50,000 is more than enough to get started in life. It may even be more than either or both of your parents are making. Certainly it is far more than they started out with. Time to cut the cord, kid.

  22. Monica says:

    I am astonished that a university graduate earning $50,000 is even considering living with his parents. Adults are mature, independent and responsible for themselves, unless extreme circumstances occur. If you have a university degree and earn a decent salary, then you are capable of standing on your own two feet.

    It’s the parents’ job to raise a kid until he can fend for himself. Earning $50,000 means you can fend for yourself. Time to get out of the nest and FLY.

    There are other things in life than saving money. Being your own person, independent and self-reliant… money can’t buy that.

  23. cami says:

    If Joel were to contribute to the household: food, rent, utils, etc. it seems like he would be spending about the same on living and transportation expenses in both locations. If he got a place with a roommate, which cost say $400/mo (instead of $600), it seems like he might be able to do even better than if he were living at home, contributing, and paying for the additional 60 minutes each day of transportation costs.

    I second what Gayle said, $50,000/yr is more than enough to get started. I’m curious, was he actually making $25k/yr while he was in school (or was that the rate at which he was being paid)? Because if he was, where did that money go?

  24. PF says:

    I agree with Kim and Gayle, do not move in with mom and dad; it is completely unnecessary.

    Okay, so I lived on my own after college, didn’t save a dime, didn’t contribute to my retirement fund, didn’t get ahead financially in any way except by gaining professional experience (very important). However, do I regret it? Heck no!

    It was a wonderful time in my life when I didn’t’ have the responsibility of school and could enjoy time with my friends hiking, mountain biking, and sharing cheap dinners…..along with building a career. There were plenty of things to do for free and we all had a blast. I wouldn’t trade any of that for a larger retirement fund or higher net worth right now, not one minute.

    I understand that some people need to move back in with their parents after college because job markets can be tough. That is completely understandable. However, that isn’t the case here.

  25. formul8 says:

    I bought a townhouse as 24, got married at 25, divorced at 28 and lived on my own for a little while and moved home at 29 to take care of my ’91 year old grandma. She still drives, gets around on her own, etc but needs help and my family likes having someone there to keep an eye- rent free. I had debt and no savings. Now, I have managed to pay off all debt, have quite a bit of money in the bank and still saving as much as I can. I have been able to completely change my financial habits and will have at least a year of cushion in savings and a 401K. I am going to school to change my career from sales (which I have always hated) to what I want to do. Sometimes the step back is hard, but if the opportunity is there- take it.

  26. july says:

    I’m a mom and my 22 year old son wants to come home for a a few months (maybe up to a year) to pay off some debt and get himself physically fit to join the Coast Guard. The job he has only pays about $11 an hour. He was never really able to support himself without our help, but he was also in college.

    We have briefly talked about it. His room has a private entrance and i told him he could come and go as he pleases. He knows he will have to help with chores, he does his own laundry and will either cook for himself or will buy groceries.

    I asked him to chip in $100 a month for utilities, $100 month to savings, and $400 month to pay his debt (paid off in 10 months). This $600 is about what he was paying in rent, utilities, etc. This this should give him the same amount of “pocket money” as he had before, he shouldn’t have to have any additional monetary help from us, and he will have a little savings and no debt.

    I’m always open to suggestions, so if anyone sees a flaw here, let me know.

  27. paula says:

    Kids, this is Mom speaking. Dad and I aren’t an option for “saving you money” so you can plan an easy life. I don’t care “what you want.” I’m still paying off the loans I took out to pay for the “parents’ share” of your tuition.

    I find this whole self-absorption with “what I want” totally juvenile. What happened to your wish to get outta the house the second you could, and never return, because Mom asked you to pick up your clothes one too many times?

    Come back for a visit, but get a place in town, on the busline, and save the planet and your money that way. I’m proud that you got that job; now act like the adult that deserves that salary.

  28. Rob says:

    Many of you guys make it sound like the worst thing ever, it’s not. Yes, your parents raised you until you are able to be independent. Does not however mean that they want you leaving the nest with your wings clipped or weights on your ankles?

    Seriously, if a recent graduate has the option of staying at home for a year or two while working, I say do it. I only wish I had this option. Yes, you’ll still be a burden to your parents, but it’s hardly a large amount. Rent will still be the same whether you’re there or not, utilities will barely increase, and even food isn’t that much more since they’ll be buying/cooking more in bulk.

    So what do you gain? The ability to save what I would estimate to be 80+% of your after tax pay. Saving that much in the earliest part of your life means huge payoffs in the future. Pay off your student debt if they’re not federal, put it away as your rainy day fund, invest it, whatever. Point is, you’ll be going out of the house with a strong financial situation.

  29. paula says:

    Sorry, Rob, you have no idea what kind of a burden you will be on your parents if you move in with them. I did not “clip your wings” or put weights on your ankles. You had 18 years at home, plus 4 more years in college, to internalize everything I had to teach you about the world, including paying your own way. Did you notice you wrote that your PARENTS (“they”) will be buying/cooking more in bulk? Excuse me?

    If you want to move back in, you must pay exactly what you expect to pay elsewhere for your living expenses, plus do all your own chores, and cook and grocery shop for me, because since you left home four years ago I rediscovered myself.

    Go learn from the School of Hard Knocks now, the way the rest of the adults around you do. Meantime, I’ll run for school board, which I didn’t have time to do when I was taking you to soccer practice.

  30. Gayle says:

    Okay, I have to put in two more cents here, this time about unseen costs. First, if I was this kid’s manager looking at him as possible promotion material, it would never happen as long as he was living with Mommy and Daddy. He has in my eyes not proven himself as an adult even capable of handling his own affairs much less the company’s.

    The younguns seem to think Mom and Dad have nothing better to do than cater to this idea of building you a financial foundation. This is a preposterously self-centered notion. Mom and Dad almost certainly have dreams and aspirations that you may be totally unaware of. When my last son left the nest (finally) and the money I was contributing to his education and welfare was finally freed up it was enough to set me free of some burdens. With that money I started financing mission trips around the world contributing my skills as a nurse in some very underdeveloped places. Additionally, I now serve on the board of the international organization I serve with.

    And while we are talking about the money your parents spent on your education, I seriously think you should at least know how much cash outlay has been spent in your behalf in parent loans and living expenses. A real adult would know that number and where that money came from. For instance did your parents cash in equity from their home or borrow from their retirement to send you to school? That money should be repaid.
    Seriously.

  31. paula says:

    Gayle,

    Amen, Sister!

  32. PF says:

    Yeah, go Gayle.

  33. kim says:

    It would be very interesting to know the ages of all of those who commented that living at home was a wise decision. My guess is that a number of them are still in their early to mid twenties and have not gotten to the point where they feel settled and secure yet. Guess what, leaving college and having a nice home and car and a secure job rarely happens. Ask your parents or grandparents and they will tell you all about “paying you dues”. You can’t skip from childhood to midlife security. Learning comes when you fall down and pick yourself up again and do things better. Trent, I think of all people you should understand this. Would you be in the place you are now mentally if you had not been permitted to go it on your own, screw it up a bit, and then learn from your mistakes. I think we are raising a whole generation of Peter Pans.

  34. Ted says:

    Seriously

    I live on less than $30,000 a year in DC.

    If someone is making $50,000 a year, there is no way they should be living at home.

  35. PF says:

    kim, I was wondering the same thing. Also, many of the comments against moving in with mom and dad are from women, and many of the comments for moving in are from men. Not all. Just my observation. This comment thread is like a sociological study all on its own!

  36. Mitch says:

    “Joel” does not seem to know what his parents actually would like, nor does he mention who else is still in the household, what their lifestyle is like/whether they have redesigned their life around not having him there, etc. I think this could work in some families and not in others. If they are a close-knit family, they might rather have Joel home for a little longer and he can keep thinking and planning a little longer.

    Even though my parents had paid nearly $10,000 towards my tuition and provided room and board over the school breaks, my parents tried to get me to move back home five years ago when I graduated and didn’t have a job lined up. Now, my parents are overprotective in their way, but they probably were also thinking that it would be a little more time to spend with the family and so on and help me “get on my feet” (my siblings were ages 6, 17, and 20 years old at the time).

    Kim, I suspect the Peter Pans were treated that way along. Someone who was well brought up is not going to suddenly change because they moved back in with the folks for a year.

    Gayle, maybe so, especially if he makes a fuss about it, but I don’t consider my living arrangements to be my employer’s business.

    I wonder a sociologist would say. For the record, I’m 27.

  37. Pam says:

    $50,000 a year? $600 monthly rent? That is 14% of your gross income. Leaves plenty for paying off bills and build up your emergency savings.

    This mom says move out! Seriously, it’s time be an adult, be accountable for yourself, and let your parents live on their own.

  38. paula says:

    Mitch, and others, there’s a huge difference between coming home because you haven’t yet landed a job (despite active hunting) and coming home because you want to spend your parents’ money rather than yours for day-to-day living. That is the difference between you and Joel. You may come home; Joel may not.

    There’s also a difference between “Adam,” who did college well, got straight As, actively job hunted, and still didn’t get a job, and his brother, “Zach,” who took 2 years longer, got less than wonderful grades, sort of looked, and didn’t get a job. Adam may come home without a deadline. Zach gets a deadline (a short one), and if there is no job by then, out he goes.

    I speak from experience, being married to Adam. He got a job in 3 weeks. Zach stayed nearly a year, almost immediately stopped looking, and is still a bum at heart; he needs his wife to manage everything for him. Perhaps birth order is at work, if you want to look at sociology again. Certainly my husband wasn’t raised to be Peter Pan, so how do you explain his brother?

    Incidentally, the brother never did finish his senior thesis, so technically never got his degree. That was another thing he was supposed to do during that lost year at home. Upshot: If you do go home, kids, and your parents give you deadlines, they aren’t being heartless. They are trying to help you stand on your own two feet.

  39. Gayle says:

    Mitch, no manager is going to make a fuss about it if he is even halfway competent. You are right that he has no business telling you how to live. However, I stand by my statement that he will make judgments about the candidate’s maturity and real life capabilities from that information. It will never be discussed, it will simply be implemented.

    Real life is a whole lot different than college life.

  40. Betty says:

    Gayle, how would his manager even KNOW if he lived at home, unless he was talking about it at work. That stuff is TMI and if you don’t talk about it at work, no one is the wiser. Heck, the manager might think you owned your own home.

    My brother lived at home after college because my parents wanted him to badly. They didn’t want the “empty nest” syndrome and at that time I was living far away. My brother lived with them for about 5 years, but he also had a very good job and he helped out my parents by buying them stuff and doing stuff around the house for them. Although he did spend money frivolously at times, he did save up enough for a SIZABLE down payment (100K) on his house, which he bought two years ago (housing prices in CA are OUTRAGEOUS, his house cost 560K). His living at home didn’t do anything bad to his life at work. He did well and was a supervisor right before he moved out, and he is still a supervisor at his company. He is now going for his Masters in biomedical engineering, on the company’s dime.

  41. Mitch says:

    Paula, you make my point exactly: it all depends.

    I don’t know Joel “from Adam”; perhaps Joel is really a freeloader, but I would need more information before retracting the benefit of the doubt. At any rate, you are spot on that kids should move out when they hit any deadline or expectation the parents have set: people ought to have a little respect for what other people own and for what they contract with each other!

    Gayle, I meant if Joel fusses about it; if he values his privacy, then I would hope that nobody minds his nondisclosure. If he brags about it, though, well, that might not make a good impression.

  42. Gayle says:

    Mitch, I apologize, I apparently misinterpreted your comment. You are correct that Joel does not need to disclose his living arrangements and indeed would be wise to keep his private life, especially his financial life, to himself in any work situation. This is really kind of bordering on a different discussion entirely, that of how to behave in your first “career” job.

    Your remark about respect is absolutely correct, Joel needs to sit down and have a real heart to heart with his parents, set some financial and lifestyle goals and a timeline to accomplish those things. It would also be informative for him if he knew those same things about his parents. He would most likely learn some things he never knew about what they want out of life. As an adult, it would behoove him not to stand in the way of their dreams. Perhaps they would like to plan for early retirement or travel. They may also have responsibilities for their own parents (his grandparents) that will also eat up their time and resources.

  43. Rachel says:

    Our son moved out of state when he was 20, because of a girl. He then went deeply into debt, married the girl, more debt, and they now have an almost 2 year old son and twins on the way. They filed for bankruptcy a couple of years ago, and now they can’t even purchase a larger vehicle. He promised his dad and I that he would finish college, but he hasn’t yet. Our 22 year old daughter just moved in with us, bringing her 5 month old baby. She is working nights as a waitress. Her boyfriend remained behind in another city where he will be working two jobs. My husband and I work days and keep baby at night, so there is no day care cost. They are doing this for one year to save a down payment on a house. Is it the best situation for everyone involved? Only time will tell. But she came to us with a plan, and they at least have goals, and they admitted they could not make it on their own. I wish our son had done the same a long time ago. I would rather have an adult child in my home for a year getting on a firm financial stance, than bouncing through life with no real goals at all.

  44. Mitch says:

    I think “how to behave in your first ‘career’ job” would be an interesting discussion to read; do you have a forum for it? I am thinking pragmatically & theoretically to ask what are the differences that divide corporate, industry, regional/national, and generational cultures, and what are common threads that run through them?

  45. Joel says:

    Wow, what an overwhelming response! It’s really good to hear everyone’s thoughts on the subject, but maybe I can clear some more things up.

    First of all, I just had a discussion this evening with my parents about this situation. I asked them to be completely honest and to tell me what they expected from me if I were to stay at home. They expect a significant amount of chores to be done, but do not expect a form of rent. What I find interesting though is that it’s my father who is the one mostly opposed to rent whereas my mother is somewhat indifferent but slightly leaning towards a small amount of rent each month (She would use this as a savings account for me).

    In terms of the kind of relationship I have with my parents, it is a very strong one. We are very family-oriented and my parents appreciate having me around. In fact, one reason they like having me home is so I can look after my 19 year old brother when they go away on the weekends. In that respect, me staying home gives them peace of mind.

    I would also like to clarify that it was not my idea to be staying home. I am most certainly content with finding my own place. However, my parents are the one that brought up the subject. And like I said, part of the reason is because I will be useful and they don’t feel like I’m taking advantage of them. I’ve been very clear that it’s important to me that I am always respectful of what they want, and they know that they can tell me anything that’s bothering them.

    Well, it’s late and that’s all I can think of for now. I would like to thank everyone who has posted so far. Keep those comments rolling!

  46. Rob says:

    Paula,

    The situation varies obviously, but please realize something. Not everyone here is a spoiled brat. I’m young, but I’m certainly not stupid and I am grateful for everything my parents have done for me.

    I paid my way through college. I took on student loans, I worked 40+ hours every week for four years. I paid all the bills, tuition, books, travel, food by myself. Besides a roof over my head and family meals, my parents have not paid, nor have I expected them to, for ANYTHING I have consumed since I was 15 and legally able to work. When I was a kid, I took the bus to school, went to class, came home, did my homework, and DID THE CHORES. Why? My parents are immigrants so they were mostly uneducated. My dad worked two jobs, my mother worked the night shift just to keep the family afloat. They worked their butts off. Thank god there were no soccer practices to do them in huh?

    My point was, most people, coming out of college, job or not, do not have a strong financial foundation. No money saved, questionable job security, etc… I don’t see how you can deny the marginal costs (explicit) increases are minimal for parents at this point. Do they not have to pay the same rent? When I left, did my parents suddenly stop cooking dinner for themselves? As far as implicit costs, we’re talking about kids who will graduate college 22+, how much babying do they need!? So what if your kid loses his job? What do you think is going to happen? He’s gonna have to move back in suddenly, drop whatever life he had, and go back to square one.

    So all that aside, assuming I blew all my money on hookers, lost my job, and became an alcoholic, I know my parents would still welcome me in their home without requiring me to pay “equal living costs.” That’s just absurd. When my parents hit retirement age soon, they will be living with me or my brother, no questions asked.

  47. Rob says:

    Gayle,

    Why do you think Mommy and Daddy has to cater to every need? Are we not talking about college graduates? Probably lived on their own for four years in college dorm, 22 years old. Here’s some advise. Don’t.

    Yes, I’m sure most responsible adults do know where the money came from. So you don’t worry about your kid’s financial foundation? Then why did you send them to college? So they can get drunk every night and practice unsafe sex? If you care so little that you want the money back, then maybe you shouldn’t have paid for it in the first place. Any good child, at least in my opinion, will be paying all this back and more when their parents hit old age and it’s time to take care of them. That’s what I grew up on.

    Joel will need to talk with his parents for his particular situation. I still don’t agree with this whole “get the hell out as soon as you possibly can because mommy and daddy are sick of having to deal with you” notion. Out of respect and as part of life, of course you should move out eventually. I’m just saying in the start, the first 6 months, year, 2 years even, it’s important to get something meaningful started, or you’re setting yourself up for disaster.

  48. kim says:

    I am not saying that parents should turn a blind eye to their child in a time of financial need. I think most children should and do move home briefly after college while they find a job and maybe even later in a time of financial emergency. I did. I lived at home from late June to early August after graduation. I had found a job at that point and there was no good reason for me to live at home. I also briefly lived at home at 28. I had just had twins and my husband got laid off. The medical bills from my difficult pregnancy blew through all of our savings and we had to sell our home or lose it. We moved from the midwest to New England and lived with my parents for six months – two months for my husband to find a new job and four more months to pay off the head hunter my husband used to find the job (the job market was very tight in his industry). We paid what rent we could, although I know it didn’t begin to cover the additional expenses. My parents offered to let us stay another six months, but my husband and I needed to be on our own. There are situations when it is necessary. Joel was not talking about a necessary situation. He even used the term MOOCHING. He is more than capable of living on his own. He is just wondering if it is OK to take the easy road. In his case it is not.

  49. Gayle says:

    Rob, you need to reread my post. I explicitly do not think that Mommy and Daddy have any business catering to a child’s “needs”. As my sons will tell you I have no problem with saying no.

    Living in a college dorm is not living on your own. It is an artificial construct. Living on your own is finding your own place to live, taking care of all of the details such as cleaning, meals, laundry, and paying all the bills.

    Yes, I worry about my kids’ financial foundation. I also worry about my own. I would like to be able to take care of myself in my old age, thank you very much. In addition, my own parents are still very much alive and kicking in their 80′s. They too enjoy living in their own house and taking care of themselves to the fullest extent possible. But they do need some assistance with certain situations.

    As a new graduate, Joel is making very nearly as much money as I do. I would see no reason why a child who makes that kind of money is not living on his own.

    In my own situation, I need to maximize my retirement contributions, not continue to support a child. I also value my freedom and privacy. I am an adult too.

  50. Bill says:

    My kids are welcome to move back in with me, though I doubt they’d want to.

    Personal responsibility?

    They already clean, wash, cook simple items like cookies.

    I’ll have them cooking entire meals for the family by the time they’re 12.

    They’d have less work to do if they did move out. :)

    And I hope posters here would not choose to discriminate against someone based on merely where they’re living.

    I had to walk out of a career in my 20s to care for my terminally ill mother.

    It took her a decade to die.

    Being so foolish as to discriminate against someone in a similar situation is a clear
    invitation to see the company and oneself personally named in a civil action.

    What would one’s own boss think of costing the company the time and legal fees involved?

  51. SwingCheese says:

    I, too, had a very strong relationship with my parents, and moved back in with them for a year after I graduated from college. I worked for my Dad, and had a second job teaching part time. After a year, though, I felt as though I were mooching, so I took a full time job as a nurse’s aid, continued to work part time as a teacher, and made the move. I felt great knowing that I was taking care of myself.

    The downside? Although I had been able to almost completely pay off my cc debt while at home, my ability to do that dropped drastically when I had all my own bills to pay. The cc bills went back up. I also ended up going to grad school, which greatly increased my previous student loan debt (I paid for college myself, with the scholarship/loan combo). My parents were willing to have me longer, but I was anxious to be on my own. It’s hard to say which was better in the long run, though it’s a moot point now.

  52. ceej says:

    as long as you are not a financial burden to them and you get along with them, i say stay as long as you like. but sock away as much money as you can so when you do move, it can be into a HOUSE (asset) and not an APARTMENT (waste of money). in fact, i’d even suggest you buy some income property first, earn some more money, and THEN buy your own house.

    out here in LA, a decent bachelor apt in an OK neighborhood will run you about $1800/month. $50k a year is really only $28K, after Uncle Sam eats the bulk of his single, no child having check. Who can afford such living conditions on that salary?

    For all of you clamoring for this guy to “be a man” and “live on his own”, are you really suggesting he throw good money away on RENT when he can save that cash every month and invest it wisely?

    I lived at home from 24-30. I paid my portion of the light bill, paid for my own cable, phone, groceries, etc. I watched my credit score liek a hawk. I sacrificed many movies, expensive vacations, and shopping excursions to save money. No ‘mooching’ from my parents at all. I was basically renting a room at a very reasonable price. I got a lot a crap from friends and family, but I endured it. They said I needed to be “independent” but I had a plan.

    Between 25-30, I bought a 2 apartment buildings and 3 single family homes. They bring in an additional $3500/month in income. That passive income allowed me to buy a much nicer house at 32 than I could have ever afforded if I was paying nearly 2 grand in rent every month for 5 years.

    And more importantly, that income helped me subsidize my parents retirement income. Without my extra money, they wouldn’t have been able to afford to retire at all. And more since my dad is ill, I can afford to pay for the best care. Every bit of my income from those properties goes into their pockets. I know if I was all gung-ho about “standing on my own two feet”, I would still be stuck in some cramped apartment, and my parents would have lost their house. I know this because many of my “independent” friends are still broke and not even able to help their ailing parents.

    If this young man makes a financial plan and budget and sticks with it, he can use his parents generosity to his advantage. Don’t be so quick to be “independent”: sometimes it’s best to bide your time.

  53. ceej says:

    Well, Paula, you may not be your child’s savings plan, but rest assured they will be your retirement plan!

  54. paula says:

    Kudos to you, ceej, and Rob, for having this sort of relationship with your parents. I don’t know anyone who plans to depend on their children for retirement, but I realize that some family relationships are actually all tied together, generation to generation. Thank you for the reminder that not all of us view family commitments the same way.

    Perhaps the following will help you understand the other point of view:

    –My family pushed west, a generation at a time. Each generation relied on themselves from young adulthood.

    –My husband’s sage grandmother counted every penny and invested wisely, because she was determined not to be a burden on her children or grandchildren. Part of her reasoning might have been because she had to devote many years to nursing her mother-in-law and grandmother during the Depression. But the lesson stuck: We raised our children to stand on their own two feet, just as we do. And they won’t be choosing our retirement home. ;D

  55. natasha says:

    When making the decision to move home after college, I also had to add in the factor of applying to grad school and relocating within a year of graduating. I lived in an apartment with a roommate I didn’t especially like (I was essentially the maid for an extra messy guy), I worked through college to make ends meet, had no money for a deposit on a new apartment and didn’t want to stay in the complex I was in, no real furniture, and my only promising job prospect was an $11/hour job with the state government that excluded me from rights to any benefits because of its status. Add in the $500 I would have to spend in the next year applying to grad school, and there really was no way on earth I was going to be able to live on my own without putting myself in debt. So I moved back home with the deadline of a year, as I was going to be relocating for graduate school.
    I spent most of that year temping, as I could barely get people to understand what my undergrad major had been, let alone how it applied to whatever field I could choose. I gained a lot of job skills and am now qualified for a reasonable bit of “general office work” in most businesses, which has been helpful for me gaining employment while I am in grad school full time. I saved money for deposit on a rental and for furniture, and (with my SO) I’m on my own and not depending on any family members for help. Had I gone out on my own, I probably would have ended up in debt and had more problems staying afloat financially with no ability to actually further my education toward more productive career options.
    My mother was a recent immigrant, and she raised me to be able to more or less run a household before I left for college. I was a lot better prepared than the majority of my classmates and flatmates, and ended up helping some along the way to their own independence. She does, however, understand that sometimes, despite one’s own best efforts, things don’t work out. With the relationship that I have with my family, we are obligated to help each other out when necessary, but are independent of each other when we can be. The first year of college, my mother was unemployed; if she hadn’t been able to regain employment, I would have been obligated to leave school and work to help contribute to the household. While I was out of school, I did grocery shopping and helped out where I could while saving. My parents know that I am not going to abandon them in old age because they’re inconvenient because of the relationship we have.

  56. Joel says:

    Update: It’s been a little while since first requesting advice here and I thought I would let you know how things are going.

    I’m currently living at home with my parents and everyone is happy with the way things are turning out. I pay more portion for food, internet, tv, etc. In addition, I also help around the house and run errands when needed. My parents like the feeling of an extra “adult” around.

    I’ve been very diligent with maintaining a frugal lifestyle and I plan to have $20,000 of my student loans paid off, fully fund a Roth IRA, and contribute up to my company’s matching for a 401k all within a year of my new job.

    When I reach those goals I will maximize my 401k and begin saving for a mortgage down payment. I plan to keep the other $20,000 in students loans because it’s at a pretty good rate.

    So there you have it. Let me know what you think and if anyone has any more advice for me. Thanks!!!

  57. Mike says:

    I’m with those who say build an independent life, even if (or maybe especially if) your parents are “happy” with having you around the house.

    My younger sister moved in with our parents after college to save money and all was working well. This year she turns 32 and is still there.

    What happened? During the first several years of her living back at home, both our parents developed some serious health problems and suddenly she “needed” to continue to live at home. She thought it would seem selfish to move out at that point after living with them for several years after college. Now she’s 32, hasn’t dated for years, and her career is suffering as well from being the sole caretaker. My other sister and I both live on opposite coasts, with families, far away from the upper midwest. We do what we can to help financially and come out on our vacations, but we don’t plan to move back to the midwest.

    We feel sorry for our sister, but she’s in a situation she doesn’t feel that she can ethically leave. Joel may never face these situations, but he needs to consider that he won’t be “just an adult roommate” when living with his parents.

  58. !wanda says:

    @Mike: Your sister is a good person and is doing the right thing.
    When your parents developed health problems, they needed someone to take care of them. Would it have really mattered where your sister was living at the time? Even if she were living on her own, she probably would still have ended up moving back in and being their primary caretaker.

  59. Maura says:

    I moved back in with my parents when I was about 22 because I had lost my roommate, and I wanted to find a job in another town. It took longer than I thought, about two years. During that time I was able to pay cash for my first car, take a trip to Ireland, and save enough for a down payment on a condo. That was back when most students did not graduate with huge amounts of student loans.

    If your parents are supportive, and you get along with them, and if you are appreciative (don’t take their help for granted, help around the house, respect their house rules)you should stay with them, pay off your student loans as fast as possible, and build up some savings. You will get a much better start in life.

    Or get a job where housing is provided (apartment manager, housesitter).

    I think it is much harder to move out than it was 25 years ago, since housing costs are much higher, and kids are starting out with student and credit card debt.

  60. Maura says:

    Joel,

    I just read your update. Good for you! Keep focused on your goals and you will get a great start in life financially.

  61. Lauren says:

    First of all, I would like to say on behalf of all those opposed to moving in with your parents: There is a HUGE difference between moving home because you do not have the means to live on your own and moving home becauseyou would like to put yourself on better financial footing. Usually in this instance, you are saving money because your parents are picking up the slack. If you truly contribute the full share of your expenses, why not just get a rooommate or two instead and slip the cost of your own place? That would theoretically be the same deal. If you make $50,000 a year and have two healthy parents and (it sounds like) no other extenuating circumsatances, you should be out on your own.

    FYI my stats are, I’m 25 years old, bought my house 6 months ago, contribute the full company matched amount to my 401K, have a decent savings account, and have made a significant dent in my student loans (college was scholarships and loans on my own). I’d say I’m in a really good financial position. I started out making about the same amount of money that Joel is, and I didn’t live with my parents after college.

  62. Joel says:

    Hey guys, I’ve got another update for you! I’ve been through a lot in the past couple of months and I’m very proud of my diligence and commitment to living a frugal lifestyle.

    For starters, I’ve saved enough money in my emergency fund for 3 months of expenses. I also have enough for my Roth IRA too.

    And the biggest new of all? I’ve found an apartment!!! I will be living with two other roommates in a great place about three blocks from my job. It’s absolutely perfect because now I can walk to work so long as the weather is nice. This will save me about $200 a month in gas. Obviously, that will get replaced with rent, utilities, and food but it still makes me feel good to do less driving.

    Due to the new living arrangements I’ve been trying really hard to continue saving. I spent very little this year on Christmas and replaced the money with more thoughtful actions. I’m also scouring Craigslist for some cheap/free furniture. Anything to save a penny (or a few hundred dollars).

    So I’m finally “on my own” now. It feels good too. Now the saving begins for house…I can’t wait for that day. :)

    P.S. I’ve also got my parents on this frugal lifestyle too. I even helped them go through their expenses and eliminate unnecessary items.

  63. 40Kindebt says:

    Just wanted to contribute. I’m 25 yrs old and just moved back home after being on my own for two years.Basically my financial situation was ok when living on my own, but I was not able to save enough money toward my retirement or paying down my college debts. Living near the city on a below average salary does not cut it. Needless to say I now commute 1:45 each way but on a train. I pay 400 toward food and utilities and have found the freedom to finally start saving towards my retirement. My plan is to live at home a few more years, help out with my sick dad, buy some rental property as swingcheese mentioned and move out on my own again when I have the means to do so. I can honestly say that watching so much money go away to rent was gut wrenching. I agree, don’t mooch, contribute, and make a positive impact on your life and others. I think that’s responsible enough that no one parent should have a problem with. My .02

  64. tarits says:

    hi this is probably a late response to this post, but at this point i can relate the content.
    i will be studying for grad school full time for a year by june 2008. my parents offered to shoulder my housing and tuition fee expenses for a year, and i’m planning to get a part time job for daily needs. while i was very reluctant to take this step and be dependent on them again, we talked about it and they said that in the long run, education is always a good investment.

    i guess this is a cultural thing though… here in the Philippines, it is considered normal for children to continue living with their parents. even when the children grow up and get married, they have the option to stay with their parents. a house would often contain a very extended family network: 3 generations living udner one roof is ver common here. and it’s not considered mooching, since the grown-up children are expected to shoulder household utilities and other expenses. aside from cultural values, its also a matter of economics. most families here have only one or 2 breadwinners and they support the rest of their relatives; jobs are NOT easy to come by.

  65. I’m sorry, but I couldn’t hold my “tongue” on this one, as it’s an issue that hits super close to home for me.

    I graduated high school in 1994, and went away (700+ miles) to college in Jan. 1996. After a few years I decided it was the wrong school for me, and came home for a couple months before moving even further away to a new school, over 11,000 miles away.

    My career of choice was not a high-paying one. We’re talking a few dollars above minimum wage, and it required me to live in a metropolitan city no matter where I decided to work. I barely made it for just a couple months on $7.50/hr plus a part time job working from home on $10/hr. Then 9/11 hit, and had a huge effect on my city (no, not NYC) and my job (which was in tourism entertainment).

    I panicked. I lost the 2nd job because of 9/11 and panicked even more. I called my father in tears and begged him to let me come home. He was down there in 2 weeks to help pack me up.

    My parents had separated less than a year before, so I think he was secretly thrilled to have me back home.

    However I had a whole host of new issues to deal with. The education I’ve spent over $10k on was useless to me. I had no real work experience other than that, and there was nowhere I could do it while living at home (nor did I want to when it came down to financial reasons). So I was left with a completely blank slate. No savings, tons of debt, and no idea where the hell to go for work.

    I worked at a fitness center, a biotechnology lab, a retail store as an assistant manager (a job I got by pure friendship-based nepotism), a 911 dispatcher, you name it. I didn’t save a dime, but I got some debt paid off and gave my dad what I could to help out with bills. I also cooked for both of us, did the grocery shopping, cleaned the whole house, did my laundry and his, and all while having a full time job or two. I was young, and could afford to expend the energy.

    Fast forward… I’m now 31, and after having gotten lucky (again) by getting into a job that had the potential to be financially lucrative, but better than that TRAINED me to know the things I know now, I’m only JUST starting to be able to think about savings and investments and so on, but microscopically. I don’t make enough to live on my own right now. Nowhere near $50k, and honestly? I’m sort of starting to feel like a loser.

    I LOVED living on my own for the 4 years I did. I loved everything about it, from the Ramen noodles to the independence, the ability to decide on my own actions without anyone telling me I was making the wrong decision, the ability to cook romantic dinners for myself and a boyfriend, keeping clean (or not, if I wanted), and the pride that came with looking in the checking account and knowing that all my hard work, sacrifice, and independence still made it possible for me to pay my own bills (even if that didn’t last long).

    Was THIS where I thought I’d be by now? Nope. I fully expected to be married with 2-3 kids by now, living in a house, working in my dream career (that doesn’t pay for crap), and being completely happy both financially and emotionally. Instead I’m sitting here in my Dad’s house, busting my bootie, and trying to get a grip.

    My point in this long comment is that had I researched the “dream career” ahead of time, I might’ve known it was going to be difficult. Had I had a crystal ball and could’ve seen 9/11, or the fact that I wasn’t going to get married or have kids (at least not by this age), or had some other way to predict where my life was going to go, then things would clearly have been different. But given the state of today’s economy, NO ONE can predict. This young man’s $50k/year job could disappear in 6 months. He could find that all “computer science” related work is being done by freelancers all of the sudden and not be able to find himself a secure job. He could wind up living “gig” to “gig” and not knowing when his next project would come in. Then what?

    I don’t see a problem with moving home for a little while, as long as you’re doing chores, providing some financial reparations to your parents, and PLANNING to get out. Do whatever you can to earn extra money (forget the bars and clubs, too – they’re a waste of time and money) and put every single extra penny you have (after paying on loans & cc’s) away somewhere. Regardless if that money’s going to be used as emergency funds later on if you lose your job, or if you save up for a down payment on a home, act like an adult NOW, regardless of where you’re laying your head at night.

    Don’t get the new car, don’t get the cool clothes, don’t blow it all on a vacation, and above all, respect your parents and put their needs and wishes above your own for once – afterall, they put yours ahead of theirs for over 20 years.

    I’m now running my own business from home, working part time at my cousin’s dog grooming shop, and taking on as much work as I can. I give my dad as much as I can, and continue to cook, clean, and do other chores. We make decent roommates, funny as it is. Do I miss living on my own? You bet. But I’m grateful that my dad’s so wonderful and loves me so much. I’ll get to where I’m supposed to be, and I’ll fight my way there with every ounce of fight I’ve got in me, especially knowing that Dad’s got my back – it makes me want to work HARDER, for him.

  66. Nasus Gink says:

    My problem is much different than most on here. I have been lovingly caring for my Mom for the past 2 years. During the first 5 months I drove 60 miles (round trip) twice a week either to take my Mom to a Dr. appointment or a hair appointment or to treat an ankle wound that she couldn’t care for on her own.

    We finally decided that she couldn’t live by herself anymore so she moved in with me and my family. During the first 7 months of her being here I had to treat an ankle wound twice daily and take her to the wound Dr. once a week. I also drove her to weekly hair appointments and drove her to have her hair colored every 6 weeks to a town that was 25 miles from our house. During this time my Mom’s needs trumped mine 9 times out of 10.

    My brother who is now married with 2 boys younger than my children never took any time to help me out during most of this. This same brother lived with my Mom for 11 years making an excellent salary (averaging $100,000 a year or more during this time). I’m not sure what he contributed, but, I know that he NEVER paid her a dime of rent and NEVER helped with any household chores.

    Now, after I have been caring for my Mom, who is not poor, for 2 years, my brother thinks that she should live with us rent free. He is her POA and controls everything that she spends.

    I always thought that if I took care of Mom when she needed it that I would benefit something from it, especially since my brother was able to benefit for 11 years while living with her at her house.

    If anyone has any ideas as to how I should handle this situation please help.

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