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Why college grads moving back home should pay rent

Alyssa Pry
Personal Finance Reporter

If you’ve graduated college and don’t have everything quite figured out yet, you may have to move back in with your parents. And you wouldn’t be alone: As of 2016, 15% of 25- to 35-year-old millennials were living in their parents’ home – five percentage points higher than the share of Gen Xers who lived in their parents’ home in 2000 when they were the same age, according to a 2017 report from the Pew Research Center.

Erin Lowry, the author of “Broke Millennial,” says this can cause some major issues between you and your parents.

“It can be incredibly overwhelming to move back home,” Lowry says. “It’s this period where you’re trying to figure out how you’re going to handle your money, and it can sour a relationship quickly.”

Lowry says it’s important to set some ground rules before you move back in, to prevent unnecessary drama down the line.

Discuss expectations early on

Lowry says it should never be assumed that you can move back in with your parents, so have a conversation before you start to pack up.

“It absolutely is just simply a sign of respect to say, ‘I don’t have a job lined up, I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do yet, are you OK with me moving back home?’” Lowry says. If you do have a job lined up, here are 5 ways to boost your career.

Then decide what the rules will be. Yes, you’re now an adult, but it’s still your parents’ house, and knowing expectations going in will help make the transition smoother, she says.

“Figure out what the rules are going to be: are you going to be expected to pay rent, are you responsible for your own chores and your own food just like you would be if you lived on your own or is that something that your parents are handling,” she says.

Open communication is key to making sure there’s no confusion about who’s expected to do what.

Start paying rent

While moving back home can be a great way to save money and set your sights on your future goals, it’s important to consider your parents’ point of view, Lowry says.

“I believe you should be paying rent to your parents if you’re moving back home because if your parents financially need the assistance, you should be providing some of the assistance,” she says.

Additionally, this is a great time to practice for “real life”—in the comfort of your parents’ home.

“It’s a really good way for you to start practicing budgeting,” Lowry says. “You now have to pay rent, you have to figure out how that works into your budget and it encourages you to go out and get a job.”

For those who think it’s a punishment to ask a child to fork over some cash, Lowry says it’s simply preparation for the future.

“I don’t think of it as a punishment at all,” she says. You’re going to have to pay rent to someone else eventually, so this is just a way to get a start on saving and budgeting.

Take control of your finances

Even if you’re not paying rent, Lowry says you should still be contributing to your family and taking control of your finances. Start building a financial foundation with these six tips and create a written financial plan to get you organized and on the right track.

“Don’t start asking your parents for money,” she says. “Your parents should not be giving you an allowance and they should not be subsidizing your life.”

Buy your own groceries, do chores around the house, or assist with needs like transportation and child care.

“It’s time for you to take control and be grown-up about it,” Lowry says.

This story was originally published on Oct. 31, 2018.