(NOTE: This is the fifth in a ten part series on student loans, check back every Tuesday for the next installment – Jason)
After dragging yourself out of bed for early morning classes, studying by the light of the computer screen and surviving on hot dogs and stale coffee, you finally make it to graduation day. The world is yours, you’ve paid your dues and now you are an honest-to-goodness grown up. Your life is yours, you can party like a rockstar, sleep in till 4 pm, eat popcorn for dinner or sow any number of wild oats as you please.
Excuse me, but what colour is the sky in your world?
For those who don’t live in never-never land, you wake up before the alarm, drag yourself into the shower and chug a cup of java as you walk to the subway. When you are not a work, you spend you’re free time looking for a better job and checking your laundry for loose change that will tide you over until payday. When you do get paid, after making the rent, utilities and student loan payments, you discover you have about $73 left to live on until your next paycheque. You look longingly at the calendar with some desperate hope that two weeks will suddenly become two days.
Your parents drop by to visit, bringing a charity grocery basket with them. “Why don’t you just move back home?” they ask. You insist that you’re fine, you might even come up with excuses to appease them. Where would you store your stuff? It’s too far from work. They don’t have the space, etc, etc, etc. This ritual continues for several months until you finally break down and admit you can’t afford to be on your own just yet. It’s a cold and unwavering fact that being on your own is not a question of ability to handle yourself, so much as it is a factor of economics.
It’s called boomeranging. Adult children who are forced to return to the family homestead due to financial burdens. The good news, moving back home at twenty something, while it may feel like a blow to your ego, is not nearly as bad as you think it is. In fact, it’s becoming the national norm. We all know at least one forty year old who has zero ambitions to ever leave the comforts of the family home, but there’s no reason to think you will end up like that. For many young adults, returning home is a mature choice to get student loans and other debts under control, so they can stand on their own two feet.
That being said, keep a few things in mind:
- Set a goal for your stay. Accelerating your student loan in lieu of paying rent, saving for a down payment on a house, or looking for a better paying job are good incentives and give you a “move out” target to aim for.
- Do your chores. Granted, you’re not 12 anymore, but that’s what makes it even more important to pitch in. Your parents shouldn’t have to chase you to help out, since you are an adult. Talk to your parents or volunteer for certain duties, such as taking over the yardwork or laundry. Doing your bit toward the responsibilities of the household will go a long way in maintaining your adult independance and help your parents respond to you as their adult child, and not just a child.
- Don’t act like a teenager. Be respectful and mindful of your parents space. Cranking the stereo at three in the morning is a little selfish, not to mention rebellious. If you like it loud, invest in some good headphones.
- Don’t assume what’s theirs is yours. Just because you are old enough to drink, doesn’t mean Dad wants you to drink all his beer. Buy your own, and occasionally offer one to the old man. Same goes for the car, the remote control and other amenities that aren’t covered under “free room and board”.
- Don’t introduce your date at breakfast. It’s your parents’ house and therefore you must comply with their comfort levels when it comes to dating and overnight guests. If you are thinking of bringing your date home for the night, clear it with Mom and Dad first. If you’re not comfortable enough broaching the subject beforehand, you have no business expecting your parents to go along with it.
Returning home for an extended stay can be rewarding both financially and emotionally. Your parents will be happy to support you while you pay down your student loan debt and increase your income, plus as long as you are considerate and mindful, you can interact with your parents at a whole new level. Many families look back on this experience with fondness and rejoice at the closeness they would have not found otherwise.