When I graduated from high school, I envisioned my future adult life filled with independence, traveling the world, having the ability to buy whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, living in a perfectly-decorated apartment, eating ice cream for breakfast – typical things that teenagers envision as “adulting.”
Fast forward to graduating college and going to grad school: four years of dental school and one year of residency. I realized my perception of being an adult may have been a bit skewed – dare I say unrealistic.
My concept of life after graduation was skewed.
Graduating from my dental residency at the age of 27 years old, it was finally time for me to get a real job and start this “adulting” thing.
Time to adult.
Reality hit hard for me when I landed my first job and moved in with my mom. I was so excited to be moving back to my hometown and finally starting my career after years of study. Living rent-free for a few months sounded ideal.
Even then, I didn’t realize the unfortunate extent of my financial situation.
My initial thought process was: live at home for a few months and save up enough money for a down payment on a house. I had no idea how much that really cost. It wasn’t until I sat down and wrote everything out that I realized a few months was not going to be enough.
Many millennials with six figures of student loan debt are starting their “adult” life in a huge hole.
I was one. How would I prioritize my debt and with my other goals, both financial and personal? I felt like I was being pulled in so many different directions.
Even without my student loan debt, it still seemed incredibly overwhelming to save for a down payment, closing costs, and furniture….
Then I added a wedding to this list. I got engaged!
It was obvious to me that the only way to progress through these financial hurdles efficiently was to live at home for as long as possible. The sooner we overcome these hurdles, the sooner we are on our way to financial independence.
The emotional aspect of living at home carries a lot of weight.
As young professionals, wehave been out of the house for a respectable amount of time, pursuing our careers, living independent lives, and paying our own bills. No one in their late 20’s or early 30’s brags that they live at home with their parents. But the reality is that so many of us are doing this.
Maybe we should brag.
Living at home gives you the freedom of being able to pick up at any moment in time without worrying about a lease. This comes in handy if you suddenly obtain a new job, buy a house, or live in Europe for 3 months, without the obligation of a security deposit or staying on good terms with a landlord.
Living at home also builds “family time” into your normal routine, giving you more time to spend with others outside of the house. If you weren’t living with your parents you might see them once or twice a month, but being under one roof might mean you get to eat breakfast with them every day. It can be convenient and emotionally rewarding.
Some parents are charging very little to no rent – what a huge financial advantage!
Saving $5,000 a month
Everything not spent on living expenses could be put directly to another cause, whether that be savings, student loans, a wedding, retirement, or credit card debt.
I realize how fortunate I was to have this opportunity to catapult myself into a better financial situation. During this process I set some pretty lofty goals for myself which involved saving almost 80% of my paycheck each month. The progress was tangible and I got more excited as I got closer and closer to our goal of buying a house. What would have taken us 2-3 years, we were able to save in one just by not having to pay rent and utilities.
Of course the financial pros come with some emotional cons.
Living under someone else’s roof means living under someone else’s rules. You may be living with younger siblings who have bedtimes, or with parents who have remarried. Leaving and returning to the house means checking in with others, making sure they know where you are and if you’re okay. You may find yourself confined to one room most of the time, and it can feel isolating. You may have the majority of your stuff in storage. I think I rotated through the same 10 outfits for the entire time I lived at home. While you sacrifice some of your freedom and autonomy when you move in with your parents, you gain years of your life back in financial freedom in return.
Because we weren’t bound by a lease, we had a flexible move in date – the sellers of our home loved this, aiding the selection of us in an aggressive seller’s market.
Things to consider on the return to home: millennials are graduating at a time where the cost of education is at its highest, but it’s also a time where the cost of living is skyrocketing. In addition to this, the job market has been significantly affected since 2008. Salaries have more or less stayed the same in the last 10 years while inflation has increased the cost of everything else.
My generation gets a lot of criticism for living at home, but I have a whole new level of respect for those who choose to do it and come out of it in a better financial place. Take it from someone who has done it. The sacrifices are worth it.
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Brittany is a general dentist currently practicing in Sacramento, California. She prides herself in her ability to strategically plan out treatment in a way that makes it affordable for her patients. She also loves educating and coaching dental students on how to tackle their student debt. On her quest to becoming debt free herself, she enjoys reading about personal finance, going to CrossFit with her fiance, and home improvement projects.