7 Tips for College Students Who Have Moved Back Home

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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Living on the Cheap.

Congratulations! You graduated!

And now you are moving back home.

The reason is probably financial. Tuition isn’t cheap, and you may have tackled that bill on your own. Although some colleges and universities froze or lowered tuition during the pandemic, many cite lower enrollment numbers and inflation as a reason for rising tuition rates.

After college, the job hunt might be difficult no matter what type of degree you have under your belt. New college graduates often end up working in jobs that do not require a college degree, according to The Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In fact, 41% of new grads ages 22 to 27 are underemployed in their 2021 analysis. Combine those statistics with the rising cost of rent (4% or more on average), and many college grads are heading back home to their parents in order to save money.

It isn’t easy to swallow the fact that you need to depend on your parents or other loved ones while you prepare for adult life. You might feel embarrassed that you have to live with your parents. But multi-generational homes are a part of the culture in other countries. With preparation — and a lot of communication — you can get back on your feet and even create good, lasting memories of your time back home.

Have an exit plan

empty nest
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Before you move in with your parents, you should have a goal to move out. After my long-term relationship ended, one of my sons offered to have me stay with him and his family. I knew I did not want to stay indefinitely or outstay my welcome. So we set a timeline of four months. That gave us both a chance to not only enjoy the time we had together, but I was able to focus on eliminating debt and saving money for my next life step.

Ask your parents to help you figure out how much time you need to set out on your own again. Of course, this plan should be flexible and allow for setbacks or successes. But knowing that you have a planned date to move out helps you set priorities and take action.

Set ground rules together

Parents and money
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Don’t just unpack in your old room and expect things will work out. You are an adult, and your parents have had more freedom as empty nesters. As much as they love you, this will be a lifestyle change for them as well as for you. If you or your parents work from home, set up schedules so everyone can enjoy television watching or home-based activities without interrupting the remote worker.

Talk about your expectations, and listen to the needs or concerns your parents may have. Do they expect you to pick up your old chores? Do they balk at you having parties or overnight guests? No matter how small a task or condition may be, put it on the list to be discussed.

After having an unhappy conversation one evening, my son and I decided to not discuss certain topics with each other while we lived together in the same house. We could have avoided that discomfort by listing it as a talking point earlier on.

Ask how you can help

Adult child and parents
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You are coming home, but you are living in your parents’ house. Ask them how you can make the transition easier for them. Expect to contribute in some way — the amount, time of payment, and method of payment should be agreed upon before you move in. Your presence increases their expenses, so be respectful of that. Ask about rent, utilities, groceries, and other expenses. If you are not able to pay rent, come up with creative ways to ease the burden. Offer to cook dinner on certain days of the week, or help with home maintenance or lawn care.

Don’t revert to your childhood

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It can be easy to fall back into old patterns of childhood. Acting like a teen (leaving messes, sleeping late, staying out without communicating) could make your parents fall back into old parenting patterns. That only builds resentment. Take responsibility for your space and your own health and welfare.

Let your parents know how they can help

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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 life as an adult, and how they can support your goals, without crossing the line. Is your mom a whiz at creating resumes? Will Dad allow you to use his family gym membership? Do they have an extra car they would loan you for job interviews?

Get a job — any job

A worker in a retail store handing a shopping bag to a customer
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Yes, you have a degree. But you may not be able to find your dream job right away. Find employment even if you have to settle for something you may have done in high school. Sign up with a temporary employment service and fill out applications at local businesses. It is important to start a cash flow, so you can continue to move in a positive direction.

Once you have that job, keep searching for a better job that fits your particular skill set or utilizes your degree. Create a LinkedIn profile and network with professionals.

Save as much as possible

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The main point behind moving back home is to get back on your feet and create a new future for yourself. Make this your priority. You should have an entertainment budget that is reasonable and allows you to relax, but make sure you aren’t spending a large percentage 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 plan of action to start saving. Be honest with yourself about your income and expenses. Account for every dollar that comes in and goes out. Create a reasonable entertainment budget as well – it is important to have this to relieve stress! Look for ways to eliminate unnecessary bills, consolidate bills if possible, and work on reducing 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 work with your full-time work schedule. If you are able, send all of it directly to a savings account or “exit plan fund.”
  • Yes, save. Every extra penny should go to the ultimate goal of moving out. Sign up for rewards programs at stores, gas stations, or other places you frequent. Sell unwanted items on Facebook Marketplace or have a garage sale. Use roundup apps to send money to savings accounts.
  • Be thrifty with purchases. It’s easy to relieve some of the stress with online shopping or retail therapy. Think about whether your purchases are a want or a need. Try out some thrift stores or swap clothing with a friend if you need something special.
  • Lose the car. If you have a car and don’t really need one to get back and forth to work, consider selling it. You will not only have cash to add to your exit plan, but you will eliminate gasoline, insurance, and registration costs. When looking for employment, think about the distance from your home and if you can walk, bike, carpool, or take a bus.
  • Talk about your goals. Include your parents and friends in your spending and saving ideas. Tell your friends and your parents that you want to save as much as possible while you are living at home, and ask them for their support. Tell them that spending “just this once” won’t help you with your final goal. Good friends and parents will be eager to help you stay on track.
  • Read about budgeting. Learn more by browsing the Living on the Cheap site. There are dozens of articles that help you save money and spend wisely. Before you know it, you will be packing your bags and starting your new life on your own!