6 Smart Things You Should Do With Your Money While You're Living At Home

Like many other fellow millennials, I've graduated from school and am currently living with my parents. And considering that I work from home, my parents have also basically become built-in co-workers. Lucky for me, I have really enjoyed the experience of living at home as an adult. I moved away after college and ended up landing back here after a string of career-driven misadventures. My parents were more than accepting when that happened, which is wonderful. And since I've already lived on my own for a bit, it's easy to evaluate all the smart ways to save my money now that I'm living back at home.

There are some obvious built-in money saving perks to living at home, which is probably one of the reasons why a record number of 20- to 34-year-olds have moved back in with their parents recently. Most of us have encountered the same problem straight out of graduation: we make money, but not necessarily enough to facilitate getting our own places, especially if that place would just be a few miles up the road from where our parents live anyway. But like all good things, living with your parents doesn't last forever, and so it's important to make sure that you handle the money you're earning carefully. Here are a few good ways to plan for the future:

Pay Rent

This sort of goes against the idea of living at home, but there are several very compelling arguments to put away "rent" money every month as if you are actually paying rent. Eventually you're going to move out, and when you do that, you're going to be shelling out however much money per month your apartment is worth. If you aren't already in the habit of doing that, you're about to get one seriously rude awakening. It's easy to get into bad spending habits when you're saving money on rent because you suddenly have all this unexpected money, but once that trial period on life is over you'll be scrambling to budget in ways that you never have before.

That, and once you do move out, it will be nice to have a little emergency fund. Put however much money toward "rent" as you can per month and it'll add up to some comfortable savings you can rely on when you're reading to strike out on your own.

Build Up Credit

You're a human being, so obviously you're going to spend money. And while I don't suggest you go full on Shopaholic and max every credit card a company will spare you, it's important in these next few years to establish some kind of credit rating. In the real world people aren't going to let your parents co-sign on everything. They're going to do a background check and look into things like that to decide whether or not you can rent an apartment, or qualify for a car loan, or even a cell phone plan. So it's smart to look into making your everyday purchases on a credit card, if you feel like you can be responsible about it.

Buy Things That Are Built To Last

One of my self-imposed rules is that I'm not buying any new clothes for six months, and while that's a little drastic (at least for me it is; I'm looking at shoes in my side bar right now and the pain), it has helped me recognize what kinds of items are quality and worth spending extra money for. Instead of buying cheap, thoughtless things, buy one really good version of it that you can rely on for the next few years, when you aren't living at home anymore (hopefully). Not a few Forever 21 coats, but one stellar, warm, amazing down coat. Not a pair of boots you replace every year, but one really nice pair of boots that will survive many years of aggressive holiday errands to come. You get the picture.

Grocery Shop More Often Than You Go To Chipotle

Again, you might have extra money lying around, so it's easy to splurge on what my mother affectionately called "Chip-aw-tul" for several years. It doesn't make even a sizable dent when you do it once, but over time that adds up to a LOT of seven dollar steak burritos (plus tax!). When you're living at home anyway, just offer to do the grocery shopping. You'll save a lot of money, and eat with your family more often – two things that you won't get to do as much once you've moved out.

Travel

If you have a bit of money to spare, go on a road trip, or on one of those super discounted post-grad trips. It might not be a short-term "smart" way to spend your money, but I think of it as a long-term smart way. At some point in the near future I'm not going to be in a position to be spontaneous and travel, and I personally don't want to be one of those people who puts adventure off. I think it's better to get some of it out of your system now so when you're older and have the financial means to do more hardcore traveling, you have an idea of what kind of traveler you are and what you're interested in experiencing.

Occasionally Surprise Your Parents

They know you're living at home to save money, so they're not expecting the world. But that doesn't mean you can't budget fun little things to bring home, like a bottle of wine or takeout or something thoughtful that made you think of them. I mean, they're letting you squat in their house rent-free and eat their Eggo waffles, it's the least you can do.

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