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Move forward by moving back home—for now

Key takeaways

  • Set firm goals—and make a plan to meet them.
  • Get a handle on your debt and make a budget that builds your savings.
  • Be considerate and obey the ground rules to reduce family friction.

After years of living on your own, the idea of moving back in with your parents after being out on your own can seem unappealing. But whether it's due to steep housing prices, high levels of student loan debt or other financial/logistical reasons, that path is looking more attractive to many adult children who had previously lived on their own.

Moving back in with parents is a chance to regroup and get your finances in order. It can help simplify your financial life and help reduce the chance of digging yourself deeper into debt as you juggle all of the costs of living independently.

But while moving back home may seem like a big step backward, it doesn't have to mean the end of your hard-won independence. Here are 8 tips for making the move as productive as possible so you can get back on your feet faster—and keep you and your parents from driving each other crazy in the process.

1. Know your goals and set a target date to move back out

Before you even move in, you should know what you'll need to move out. Your goal may be saving enough for a security deposit and several months of rent, or you may simply need to buy enough time to land a job at a specific income level. Attach a time frame to your goal as well, so you can measure your progress. Once you have your goal and timeline in mind, share that information with your parents. Communicating your plan shows your parents you're serious, and also gives you a trusted audience that can offer a reality check if it looks like you might be getting in over your head. They may also be able to help keep you accountable and support you throughout the process.

2. Make a deal with Mom and Dad

Moving back into your parents' house adds another line item to their household budget. Be clear up front about what expenses you can pay for. In addition to deciding whether to pay rent, you might chip in for groceries or utilities, either on a percentage basis or as a flat monthly payment. You'll need to account for regular expenses anyway when you're back on your own, and helping with these expenses provides further proof that you're serious about regaining your independence.

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3. Focus on how you can earn an income

If you don't have a job, make getting one your top priority, even if that means taking a part-time bartending gig or driving for a rideshare company as a stopgap measure. Once you're earning a paycheck, make sure you understand how much money you actually earn after taxes, so you can base your financial plans on real numbers. And even after you've landed a job, keep looking for positions that offer better pay and more stability.

4. Attack your debt

Once you're generating income, look for ways to accelerate your financial recovery. Start by reducing your debt and building up your credit score. It may be best to tackle high-interest debt first, then chip away at lower-rate college or auto loans. If your income makes that difficult or impossible, consider taking on a second job until you can bring your debt down to a manageable level—or wipe it out completely.

5. Build your savings

Even while paying down debt, it's a good idea to get in the habit of setting aside at least a little money for savings. For the moment, you'll be building toward the financial goals you've already set. Making saving money a regular habit will serve you well in the long run too. Eventually, you'll want to build an emergency fund with 3 to 6 months' worth of living expenses. Those savings offer extra insurance against losing your financial independence again in the future.

6. Create a budget—and stick to it

Your income, debt, and savings goals are the key components of your budget. If you've never made a budget before or you're having trouble sticking to the budget you've created, reach out for help. Your parents may have advice for trimming expenses and boosting your savings. Also seek out reputable sources for information about financial basics and tips for better budgeting.

7. Tread lightly

While you were living on your own, you likely acquired more stuff than you can fit in your old bedroom. Consider renting a storage unit if your parents don't have enough closet space to hold your things. And work to keep clutter under control, especially in shared living spaces. If you've added pets or children to your household, make sure you set expectations about who will be responsible for their care before you move in—it's best not to make assumptions about free pet care or babysitting. And if your parents do provide free childcare, make sure any money you would otherwise have spent on daycare goes directly toward your savings plan.

8. Agree to ground rules

If you want your parents to treat you like an independent adult, avoid reverting to the habits you had as a teenager. It may help to think of your parents as especially benevolent landlords who may have some rules about coming home too late at night or holding parties. Being respectful of shared living spaces and helping out with everyday domestic chores—doing dishes, cooking dinner, and pitching in on yardwork—can help demonstrate your maturity and drive, and minimize emotional friction.

Last but not least, consider this time an opportunity to build a new adult relationship with your parents and new memories that you can enjoy for many years to come.

All these activities will help keep you focused on and accountable for the goals that will eventually lead you back to financial independence—and back into a place of your own.

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This information is general in nature and provided for educational purposes only.

Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Member NYSE, SIPC, 900 Salem Street, Smithfield, RI 02917