More adults in America are living at home with their parents than at any time since the Great Depression, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center. In fact, the percentage of young adults living with their parents is now over 50%—so if you are an adult living at home, you are in the majority.
There’s nothing wrong with families moving in together to get through tough economic times—in fact, it’s much better to do this than to use debt to get by in a crisis. But it’s also important that people plan for what’s next and save up to eventually have a home of their own.
If you’re a young adult living with your parents, here’s how to make the most of your situation:
Draw up Your Full Budget
Keep track of your income and expenses, in writing. Learn to budget and practice budgeting while staying at home while you have some breathing room.
Even if there are household expenses you aren’t responsible for, find out what those costs are and document them as well. Have a sense of the full cost of keeping a household vs. your personal expenses.
More Resources: Online Financial Goal Planning Tools
Limit Your Social Life
Staying in at night will save you money, and during the pandemic, will save your health as well. The point of living at home with your parents is to save money—but what’s that money for? If it’s for socializing, then you would be wise to stop and consider your priorities.
Obviously, you aren’t expected to cloister yourself and never have fun again. You get to set aside some of your income for activities that make you happy. But the point is you have to do the work of budgeting in advance, so you know just how much you have for entertainment expenses and stick to that pre-planned budget. By its nature, social spending tends to be impulsive, but while you’re living at home, you owe it to yourself to plan ahead and stick to your spending plan.
Keep Track of How Much You’re Saving
You might be contributing to household bills or making some small rent payment. But even if you are paying a little something to live at home, you’re definitely saving money over what your rent or house payment would be. Do the math so you know how much you’re saving.
Find out what the average rent is in your area and use that as a baseline. You might find you’re not saving as much as you thought you were, and you can plan to move out sooner. Or you might see that you’re really saving a lot, in which case you can accelerate your saving schedule.
Learn More: How to Manage Your Savings Account Effectively
Focus on Your Financial Goals
You moved back home with a goal, but it’s not enough to say your goal is “to save money.” What are you saving toward? A down payment for a home? Wedding expenses? Your education? Financial Goals are more likely to be achieved if they are set out in writing, and you should do that if you haven’t already.
Related Article: Financial Goals Examples and Tips
As you save money month after month, keep track of how well you’re doing as you work toward that goal. There will be temptations if you earn extra income while your living expenses are lower, and tracking toward a goal will keep you from wasting any windfalls that come your way on short-term expenses.
Communicate What You Will Contribute
If you are paying for some expenses, like food or part of the utilities, set out formally with your family what you will be contributing and how that contribution will be made.
Avoid ever getting into a position where someone in the family has to act as your landlord and come asking you for your share of the electric bill. If you talk through your part of the monthly household expenses in advance, there won’t be any need for an awkward conversation later.
Regularly talk to your family about your progress toward your savings goals, and any obstacles or changes that come up. You’ll reassure them by keeping them in the loop on how you are working to meet your goals, and you’ll have a chance to get valuable advice from them—definitely listen, as you can learn a lot from your parents, even their past mistakes.
You can also be there to listen to them—do they need some extra help around the house? Now that they are getting older, is there something you could do for them that might not seem like much to you, but could really be a benefit to them. Part of living at home should be to create a win-win scenario between you and your family, and open and frequent communication is the key to making that work.
No one needs to be ashamed of living at home with their parents, even in adulthood. Young adults living with parents is the most common living arrangement for adults age 18-24 and has been for years. There are lots of positive things about this trend—especially the way it will enable young adults to get started on a sound financial footing, without sinking deep into debt.
If you’ve been living at home and saved up for a down payment on your own place, consider home buyer coaching before you make your next move. If your debt is keeping you from achieving financial independence, debt coaching is available to help you create a plan.
Living at home can be a great move, and if you proceed deliberately and thoughtfully, you’ll make the most of it. Don’t waste the opportunity you have to get a solid financial start on your life & career.