This Decision I Made in My 20s Helped Me Remain Financially Stable Throughout My 30s

A mother cooking at the stove with her adult son looking over her shoulder.

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My plans as a college graduate were lofty. I figured I’d get a great apartment in New York City (where I worked at the time) and resume the independent lifestyle I’d enjoyed as a college student.

Only then, reality set in, and I realized that renting a place of my own wasn’t feasible. I wasn’t particularly excited about living with roommates, and the pile of educational debt I was on the hook for paying off was pretty daunting.

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Plus, my savings account seriously lacked money. Given that I’d been paying college tuition for four years on my own, that was understandable. But all told, I realized quickly that I just wasn’t in a financial position to rent a place of my own. So instead, I moved back in with my parents for a brief period.

Living with my parents had its benefits — including my mom’s delicious cooking and the occasional ride home from the subway on those nights when I had to work late (or just plain stayed out late). But it had its drawbacks in that I was living with my parents. Although 22-year-old me wasn’t looking for a serious relationship, it was hard to bring a date home knowing that my mom and dad were probably watching TV in the next room.

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But living at home for a bit after college was actually, to this day, one of the best financial decisions I’ve ever made. And I don’t regret it one bit.

A move that helped me get to a financially stable place

I was fortunate enough to get a good finance job out of college. Through careful spending and frugal living, within about 18 months of getting my degree, I was able to not only pay off the educational debt I incurred, but also, build up a solid amount of savings. My emergency fund then proceeded to bail me out of numerous financial jams during my 30s, when I had more expenses. But that wouldn’t have been possible had I not enjoyed months of free rent by living at home.

During my 30s, I bought a house, had kids, upgraded cars, and took on a host of other expenses that inevitably led to other expenses. My home purchase, for example, led to numerous repairs (despite buying new construction), and I’ve had to pay for a vehicle repair on more than one occasion.

As such, during my 30s, saving money wasn’t so easy. The great job I had in my early 20s came with intense working hours that weren’t sustainable. I swapped that job for lesser-paying work around age 27, which meant that during much of my 30s, my income was lower. Combine that with the aforementioned expenses, and my savings didn’t progress much. But that was OK, because I had the emergency fund I’d built in my early 20s to fall back on.

A move I’d recommend to anyone

It’s hard to move back in with your parents once you go away to college and get to experience a certain amount of freedom. But if you don’t make that move like I did, you might miss out on a prime opportunity to better your finances before you truly have to hack it on your own.

SecureSave reports that 63% of Americans today don’t have the cash reserves to cover a $500 emergency. But you might be able to save 10 times that sum — or more — if you live at home for a period as a young adult.

And heck, there’s nothing wrong with moving back home for a bit as a not-so-young adult if your parents are willing and you need to unload some expenses for a while to pay off debt or build savings. It may be a humbling experience, but it could benefit you for years like it did for me.

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