When I was a kid, I used to dream of busting out of my hometown. I'd pine for shows in the mid-2000s that featured gorgeous locales like cities in California, or chic ones like New York City. I was convinced that once I made my big move, it'd be permanent: There would be no turning back to come home again.
But while my husband finished up with the Army, I found myself needing to house hunt, find a job, and see about putting down roots. I didn't particularly fancy doing this all online, and we'd be making a cross-country drive when it was all said and done to move into our new home. I wanted to be sure of our new neighborhood and city and life; this meant doing my due diligence and what I liked to call "field research" first. In layman's terms, I needed to have a home base: No place seemed better for this than, well, home. So not only did I moved back into my hometown, but I also moved back in with my parents for a few months.
I wasn't alone in this scenario: Many millennials are moving back home in order to save money these days, and while some empty-nesting parents secretly can't wait to have their space back again, chances are there are more elated parents than not to welcome you back into the fray. Still, as a married person, nothing felt more cringe-worthy than living in my childhood bedroom. It wasn't a decision I made lightly: I weighed the pros and cons for quite some time before deciding it was in fact worth it. I knew that living in my childhood home would come with special challenges, but I would discover it was beneficial in more ways than one.
But before I realized that, I first had to reconcile the fact that I would be sharing space with my parents again—this time as adult. So before embarking on this journey, I had a conversation with Stephanie Wrenn, my best friend who had been living with her mother for a year. I had questions about what to offer to pay my parents while living there (if anything), how to best figure out a budget so that I would save while living there, and how similar it would be to living there as a child. Here's what we worked out:
Who pays for what?
When my parents and I were discussing me moving back in, they never once mentioned finances—which a selfish part of me took as a relief. I counted on being able to save all income from whatever job I'd eventually find. But Stephanie cautioned against this. It was a surprise to find out that she paid for about a third of all the bills at home with her mom. She paid for the cable, the internet, and put money towards all the food purchased in the home.
I realized that this was the only way to go about living with someone. I'd had a roommate before and expected this of them: Why wouldn't I expect to be as good of a roommate to my parents? Though initially they wanted to refuse any financial help from me, they welcomed it when they realized I still would be able to save a lot without sacrificing a social life.
It also made me realize moving back in with my parents wouldn't be just a big adjustment for me. My parents were trying to figure out, too, now that I was an adult. I'm sure it alleviated some stress for them to have some financial help, too.
What are the rules?
Growing up, I never had particularly strict rules—this is perhaps because I was affectionately known as a "goody two-shoes." Sure, I had my fair share of teenage tomfoolery, but I was an overall calm homebody. As an adult, I'm still a rule-follower to a point, but I'm also incredibly independent. In my talks with my parents, it seemed that they still had a "my roof, my rules" mentality. Knowing this was the situation for Stephanie as well, I asked her how she navigated it: She said that she actually willingly agreed to a curfew—to that, I couldn't help but laugh. A curfew? At age 23? This had to be a joke. My husband and I had been doing just fine, thankyouverymuch, at making sure we got adequate sleep.
But Stephanie pointed out to me, again, that my parents were still roommates of sorts. They didn't want to be woken up in the middle of the night, weren't interested in a party continuing at home, and also didn't want to be waiting up expecting me to come home and worrying themselves to death when I didn't. She mentioned that her "curfew" was less a hard and fast time (she wasn't going to get grounded or anything if she broke it), but more of an agreed-upon daily situation. Moms worry no matter how old we are, and she agreed to tell her mom if she'd be out later than planned or not coming home at all.
I sheepishly acknowledged this, and since have made sure to make my parents aware of my general plans—while still maintaining my precious independence and desire to be wherever, whenever I wanted (within reason).
How much will you save?
Before I moved in with my parents, the one big thing I wanted to know was how other people in the same situation were managing their money. Though I wasn't paying for rent, I was still covering bills, going out, and managing a commute. In other words, I was still going to spend money. But how much, realistically, was I going to save (and would it be worth the emotional cost?)
My husband and I planned to buy a small starter home we could pay it off quickly and turn it into a rental property later on. Stephanie told me that this was actually her plan, too, and that living at home helped her to save thousands of dollars since she didn't have to sign an short term rental lease or buy a home before she was ready—two things that can end up being way more expensive than they need to be.
By the time my husband came home four months into living with my parents, I saved nearly $7,000 through a temporary job with a short commute to my childhood home. It was awesome to have this money for the much-needed repairs for the fixer-upper we purchased. Though it didn't come easy, I found that the money I had saved was well worth the grumbling about minutiae for a short amount of time.