The lighter side of real estate

How Living with Your Parents Makes You Rich

Living in your parents basement for a short time after college can make you rich. Find out how much money you would save.

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I have four primary life goals:

  1. Get married
  2. Have kids
  3. Buy a house
  4. Retire

And I’m just now realizing I can’t buy a house without saving for a downpayment. I wish I’d lived in my parents’ basement the last four years. I’d be $85,000 richer. That would put me in downpayment territory already, even in crazy expensive San Francisco.

Instead, I wasted all my money on rent, food, and TV. Not only that, but I have kept a detailed spreadsheet of everything I have spent over the past 4 years so that I can relive the pain all over again. Using that spreadsheet I created a breakdown of the money I washed away.

I’ll guide you step by step through all the money you can save by living at home for 4 years. You’ll be able to buy a home in no time.

Rent – Making My Landlord Rich Since 2009

I’d put up with a lot to save $1,000/mo on rent, including the mental anguish of seeing my parents every day. My rent is on the high side because I have had the “privilege” of living in Los Angeles and San Francisco after graduating college, the second and third most expensive cities in the country.

Thinking of my current situation, I would happily trade hipsters for my parents. God, I hate hipsters.

Food – What’s better: Microwave Dinners or Mom’s Home Cooking?

I’ve averaged about $339/mo on food and drink, but mostly food. Of that, maybe $250/mo has been on groceries that my parents could have been buying for me instead.

If I lived at home my mom wouldn’t only buy my food, she’d cook it, which is worth even more money. Not to mention, my mom’s a helluva cook. She made me pancakes every day before school.

Now, I eat frozen Trader Joe’s pizzas three times a week. If I’m feeling spicy, I throw an egg on top.

TV, Internet, & Phones – Powering My iPoopPad Gets Expensive

My NFL Sunday Ticket, Plants vs. Zombies, and Android phone habits are expensive. I’m talking $230/mo expensive. I don’t even splurge for Netflix, Hulu Plus, or HBO.

How much did those things cost when I was living at home? Nothing. I could play Angry Birds on high speed WiFi while watching the Giants win the Super Bowl for free.

I will say that I can at least piggyback off of my parents HBO subscription from outside the house. Life wouldn’t be complete without “Girls” and “Game of Thrones,” em-i-rite? And, for the record, Lena Dunham does not get naked too much.

Living Supplies – Have You Ever Noticed Girls Use a lot of Toilet Paper?

I only recently noticed this phenomenon. My fianceé has been working from home the past month and she has ploughed through our TP stash.

Even at normal toilet paper run rates, general living supplies (Cleaning the house, toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, etc…) run upwards of $130/mo.

The bulk of that expense isn’t in toilet paper; it’s in the cleaning cost. Exec charges $117 to clean a one bedroom apartment. They do a better job of cleaning than my mom (she never remembers to put my LEGOs back in the right position), but let’s call them the same for arguments sake.

Car & Health Insurance – For as Cute as that Gecko Is, He Isn’t Cheap

I spend about $100/mo on health and car insurance.

If I lived at home, Obama would have my back on health insurance (I can stay on my parent’s plan until the end of the year).

My parents picked up the car insurance tab in high school, so they’d still pick it up for me now. And they would probably get a better rate on car insurance than I get now.

Let me just put this out there, I might be 26, but I’m a boring old man. I go to sleep at 10 p.m., watch HGTV, don’t drink, and eat pretzels. My high school guidance counselor called me “vanilla” during my college prep meetings.

Geico should be charging me $10/mo, not $75/mo.

Utilities – That’s Alright, That’s Ok, I’ll Pump My Own Gas One Day…

Keeping the lights on adds up over time. Electric, gas, and water cost me about $75/mo. And that’s with trying to be energy smart. San Francisco never gets really cold, but it never actually gets warm either, so the heat could be on at all times.

If I lived at home, I’d stick the thermometer at 70 degrees and let the parents deal with it. Instead, I wake up freezing and rarely put the temperature past 65. So not only am I poorer, but I’m also cold. What’s the upside of being independent again?

Laundry – The One Chore I Still Happily Pay Others to Do

All that time your mom spends lugging around your laundry is worth (only?) $35/mo.

Personally, I hate doing laundry; more so than doing the dishes (And you can ask my fianceé how much I hate doing the dishes). I hate laundry so much I farm it out to the awesome people at Wash1SF. They have a fantastic service called wash and fold where they wash and fold your laundry. Magical.

At $1.25 per pound, it costs me $35 a month to have someone else do my laundry.

The Road to Riches Runs Through Mom and Dad

All told, living at home saves you about $1,800/mo. If you invested that money at 4% instead of spending it, at the end of four years, you’d have over $85,000.

It’s not mooching; it’s investing.

Economist’s Notebook: Why four years out of college?

Two reasons:

  1. That’s typically the amount of time between graduating and not losing eligibility for health care through your parents
  2. I just turned 26 and am three months away from hitting the four year mark. And, lucky for me, I have kept a pretty detailed log of how much money I’ve spent over the past four years.
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posted on: April 9, 2013
12,449 views, 8 comments


  1. Tsu Dho Nimh

    You are assuming that your parents won’t be the evil kind that make you pay your share of the household expenses.

  2. On behalf of all Moms

    In your dreams

  3. Joseph Abney

    Yep I am a freshman in college at Eastern Kentucky University. I am an only child and a manager at mcdonalds so i pay off my tuition bill as it comes and im a commuter that doesnt live on campus. Im majoring in computer science and my goal is to find a job after college and live at home for 5 plus years and save all my takehome pay. With computer science grads having a mean 50,000 dollar salary right out of college, i could save 200 grand in 5 ish years. Not only that but i could put it in a mutual fund at a 12 percent stock market interest and make alot of money off my momey just

  4. ujoe b

    Joe a. That would take a lot of discipline but even if you could save 50 percent or more that would still be significant dough all while being debt free. Of course that means no layoffs no unpredictable tragedy or health circumstances and finding a high paying job right off the bat. Plus 12% on mutual funds is possible you could also lose 12. % or more in a 3 to five year stretch . 5%. Is more realistic or conservative, still good. Also I wouldn’t put all your. Eggs in one basket diversify with CDs, binds, reg savings, and we eral mutuals and don’t forget you have to decide how much to put into retirement and pretax dollars vs deferred, etc. TO EVERYONE the main point is doing something and sticking with it for 2 to 5 years living at home is a smart and respectable plan and can pay huge dividends monetarily and nonmonetary dividends for you and also your parents (as they will not have to constantly bail you out financially in years ahead). But remember to Bebe respectful and offer help don’t wait, believe me it is so much easier than living on your own don’t take that for granted, be grateful if your parents are willing to help you meet your goals. Everyone wins.

  5. Parent genyandmils

    On behalf of all moms : While I get what you’re implying it really all depends on the scenario and the adult children involved. If they sit down seriously and go over their plan and goals with a realistic means to achieve them a few extra years will help them pay off any debt they have like cars , student loans etc. To put them on a path of financial independence sooner and more importantly, for the long haul. But they also have to be mature and be respectable like not staying out or coming and going or worse their friends coming and going at all hours especially during your work days. Keeping their rooms and bathroom clean and volunteeringly doing some simple chores like taking out trash, at least bringing and putting away laundry , making their lunch, and picking up after if they have pets and buying their own extras, like clothes, haircuts,etc. All that being said, it is harder for young adults to pull that off with their new found independence along with being young, energy for the fun stuff, all fueled by tempting money draining desires and also unknown dating and relationships that can easily rock the best laid plans. I think the best case scenario is a serious recent college grad with a new good job with student loan debt realistically says I am going to live only a few years at bhome and use 80% of my take home to apply and pay down then off on my own with or without a significant other.

  6. Ray

    THIS is EXACTLY what I did/am doing. Make $80k a year and have been with my parents for the past two years. I am about to pay off my student loans ($30k worth), saved a big enough down payment and bought a $230k house last year and leased it out (yes, I leased it out), and I will pay it off in 3-4 years. My friends look at me funny, but like you said: “Living with your parents makes you rich”. I pay my parents utilities each month so as to not be a complete leacher, and don’t take any of their money. I make more than enough to afford my insurance, gas, etc. It’s so nice to be almost be completely debt free. I am also very respectful to my parents as I am super appreciate of the opportunity and I like to think they like to have their son to help around the house too. :) First gen college student here.


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