Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Live on the cheap.
Congratulations! You have graduated!
And now you’re going home.
The reason is probably financial. Tuition is not cheap and you might have settled that bill on your own. Although some colleges and universities have frozen or reduced tuition fees during the pandemic, many cite declining enrollment and inflation as the reason for tuition hikes.
After college, finding a job can be difficult, no matter what kind of degree you have under your belt. New college graduates often end up working jobs that don’t require a college degree, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In reality, 41% of new graduates aged 22-27 are underemployed in their 2021 analysis. Combine these statistics with the increase in the price of rent (4% or more on average), and many university graduates return to their parents in order to save money.
It’s not easy to swallow the fact that you have to depend on your parents or other loved ones as you prepare for adulthood. You might feel embarrassed about having to live with your parents. But multigenerational homes are part of the culture of other countries. With preparation – and lots of communication – you can get back on your feet and even create lasting fond memories of your time at home.
Have an exit plan
Before you move in with your parents, your goal should be to move. After my long-term relationship ended, one of my sons offered me to stay with him and his family. I knew I didn’t want to stay indefinitely or stay longer than my welcome. So we set a deadline of four months. It gave us both a chance to not only enjoy the time we spent together, but I was able to focus on eliminating debt and saving money for the next stage of my life.
Ask your parents to help you figure out how long you need to be on your own again. Of course, this plan should be flexible and allow for setbacks or successes. But knowing you have a planned moving date helps you prioritize and take action.
Establish ground rules together
Don’t just unpack in your old room and expect things to work out. You are an adult and your parents had more freedom as empty nests. As much as they like you, it will be a lifestyle change for them as well as for you. If you or your parents work from home, set schedules so that everyone can enjoy television or home activities without interrupting the teleworker.
Talk about your expectations and listen to your parents’ needs or concerns. Do they expect you to resume your old chores? Do they mind you hosting parties or overnight guests? No matter how big a task or condition, put it on the list for discussion.
After having an unfortunate conversation one evening, my son and I decided not to discuss certain topics between us while we lived together in the same house. We could have avoided this discomfort by listing it as a discussion topic earlier.
Ask how you can help
You come home, but you live in your parents’ house. Ask them how you can make the transition easier for them. Expect to contribute in some way – the amount, timing of payment and method of payment should be agreed upon before moving in. Your presence increases their expenses, so respect that. Find out about rent, utilities, groceries and other expenses. If you can’t afford the rent, find creative ways to ease the burden. Offer to prepare dinner on certain days of the weekor help with house maintenance or lawn care.
Don’t go back to childhood
It can be easy to slip back into old patterns from childhood. Acting like a teenager (leaving messes, sleeping late, staying outside without communicating) could cause your parents to fall back into old parenting patterns. It only creates resentment. Take responsibility for your space and your own health and well-being.
Let your parents know how they can help you
Parents don’t stop being parents, no matter how old you are. They want you to succeed. Let them know how they can be a part of your adult life and how they can support your goals, without crossing the line. Is your mother an expert in resume creation? Will dad let you use his family gym membership? Do they have an extra car that they would lend you for job interviews?
Get a job – any job
Yes, you have a degree. But you may not be able to find your dream job right away. Get a job even if you have to settle for something you may have done in high school. Register with a temporary employment service and complete applications at local businesses. It’s important to start a cash flow, so you can keep moving in a positive direction.
Once you have that job, keep looking for a better job that matches your particular skills or uses your degree. Create a LinkedIn profile and network with professionals.
Save as much as possible
The main goal of returning home is to get back on your feet and create a new future. Make it your priority. You should have a reasonable entertainment budget and allow yourself to relax, but make sure you don’t spend a lot of your income on things that won’t help you in the long run. Here are some ways to spend wisely and save:
- Create a budget. This should be your first action plan to start saving. Be honest with yourself about your income and expenses. Count every dollar that comes in and goes out. Also, create a reasonable entertainment budget – it’s important to have this for stress relief! Look for ways to eliminate unnecessary bills, consolidate bills if possible, and work to reduce your debt. In the four months I spent with my son and his family, I was able to make a difference in the size of my debt, eventually eliminating it completely and becoming debt free.
- Work extra jobs. Find part-time or temporary jobs that fit your full-time work schedule. If you can, send everything straight to a savings account or “exit plan fund”.
- Yes, save. Every extra penny should be spent on the ultimate goal of moving. Sign up for rewards programs at stores, gas stations, or other places you frequent. Sell unwanted items on Facebook Marketplace or host a garage sale. Use Roundup apps to send money to savings accounts.
- Be frugal with your purchases. It’s easy to relieve some of the stress through online shopping or retail therapy. Ask yourself if your purchases are a want or a need. Try thrift stores or swap clothes with a friend if you need something special.
- Lose the car. If you have a car and don’t really need it to get to work, consider selling it. Not only will you have money to add to your exit plan, but you’ll eliminate gas, insurance and license fees. When looking for a job, think about how far you are from your home and whether you can walk, bike, carpool or take a bus.
- Talk about your goals. Include your relatives and friends in your spending and saving ideas. Tell your friends and relatives that you want to save as much as possible while you live at home and ask for their support. Tell them that spending “just once” won’t help you reach your end goal. Good friends and relatives will be eager to help you stay on track.
- Read about budgeting. Learn more by browsing Living on the Cheap. There are dozens of items to help you save money and spend wisely. Before you know it, you’ll be packing your bags and starting your new life on your own!
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