You’ve put in your four years of term papers, demanding internships, and roommate drama…only to relinquish your sweet, heard-earned freedom for your old bedroom. No, it’s not ideal, but many recent graduates are swallowing their pride, packing their bags, and returning home to save up and job hunt. We chatted with Gregg Zegras, GM at MyMove.com, the online resource for stress free moving, about how to compromise with your parents (as in, get them to see you as an adult), what you should be contributing to the household expenses, and tips on saving up to get your own place.
For good measure, we also hit up a few top bloggers to cover all the bases. Whether you’re moving back in for a couple of years, breaking out on your own, spending the summer with the family (calling all current students!), or a parent trying to cope with it all, we’ve got the scoop for you. Let the rest of your lives commence!
Betty Confidential: How can college graduates get over any feelings of embarrassment/failure about moving back home?
Gregg Zegras: It’s important to understand that the reason that they feel embarrassed and like a failure is because they think that moving back home after college means all of those things. If they’ve heard repeatedly – either from parents, friends, or society – that “moving back home” equals failure, that’s how they’re going to interpret it.
What I’ve learned from Allegra Stein, My Move’s Resident Relocation Coach, is that it’s essential for graduates to understand that they get to choose how to think about their circumstances. What are some positive things that can come from moving back home for a little while? How can it serve them in some longer term way? Perhaps it is that being in a stable, supportive environment gives her the time and space to make big decisions about next steps. Perhaps it is because the money she is saving can be put toward the start-up she wants to launch next year.
BC: How do they talk to parents who have unrealistic career/life goals for them?
GZ: The door swings both ways. Just as parents can’t ultimately control the thoughts and emotions of their children, kids can’t control the thoughts and feelings of parents. At the end of the day, parents are going to think what they’re going to think, and that’s their business.
It’s important for college graduates to remember that is not their business as adults to live their lives for the sake of making parents happy and comfortable — it’s like running up against a brick wall because it never really works that way. I would encourage graduates to speak honestly about the visions and dreams they have for themselves, to hold tight to those positive and motivating emotions even if their parents have a hard time believing those thoughts themselves.
BC: Ideally, how much should a college grad who’s moved back home be contributing to their parents’ household expenses?
GZ: That’s a variable to be defined by whether everyone’s expectation is based on the grad’s ability to pay or determined by an amount that is a percentage of the household monthly expenses. At bare minimum, the college grad should cover her personal expenses – meals and events out, gas, mobile account, etc. But ideally, the grad should contribute at least some amount toward the monthly food expense, utilities, and any other cost associated with an extra person living in the home. To supplement whatever contribution the grad makes, she should provide non-monetary help to run the household – pitch in on chores, maintenance, etc.
BC: What are some tips for saving up to move out? Is there a certain amount you should have before even considering moving out?
GZ: Start by having a projected amount that will cover at the very least your first few months’ rent, deposit and other basic expenses, like utilities, of getting your own place. With that goal, you can start saving as much as possible, factoring in your timeline for moving out.
Students typically eat on the run or at restaurants and accrue other expenses that can be recouped by living at home. For recent grads, it helps to:
- Forgo things like Starbucks runs and make your own coffee and lunches.
- Make a tight budget and stick to it.
- Avoid impulse spending.
- Be realistic and understand the total amount you’ll need monthly to support yourself ongoing in your own place.
BC: How can grads negotiate with parents without starting a fight?
GZ: All the grad can do is control his or her own behavior. Remember, fighting takes two. So as long as the grad can restrain herself from the anger and negative thinking and emotion that drives aggressive conversation, it will be a one sided affair. The magic bullet is this: if you don’t want to fight, don’t fight. Parents might try to fight the grad — but that’s their issue, not yours.
Certainly there are communication strategies to be employed when talking with someone – being a strong listener, reflecting back the words and feelings of the person you’re talking to, and respecting their position. Stay open to new perspectives and really think about how taking on that viewpoint for yourself might actually help you. At the core of it all is simply accepting that even if you were to do everything “right” and aligned with what your parents want, they still might not be happy.
You are not responsible for their happiness —- you’ve got too much on your plate trying to figure out your own happiness.