Graduate life: how moving back home can help get your finances back on track

Moving back in with your parents after university may be an unappealing prospect, but it may be one of the best financial decisions you ever make. Robyn White explains why.

At the end of three years at university, my money had well and truly run out.

Living in the real world without support from student loans can be expensive, and research shows millions of young people are finding themselves back in their childhood bedroom.

According to the Office for National Statistics, around a third of men aged 20-34 and a fifth of women of the same age are still living with their parents.

Despite previously swearing against it at all costs, I’ve ended up doing the same thing after finishing university.

For many of us new graduates, moving back home can feel like a step in the wrong direction.

But if you spend your time at home wisely, it can actually be one of the best decisions you make after finishing your degree.

Here’s why.

Get a head start on any debt

If you managed to finish university without a very deep and scary looking overdraft, then I salute you.

But if you’re one of the many that cringe every time you see that little minus sign next to your balance, then you won’t have to for much longer if you live at home.

While there may be the odd expense while living at home, the amount you’re going to save is likely to get you out of your overdraft in no time.

You will unlikely be paying a ridiculous amount on rent and bills, and if you’re lucky, your folks may not make you pay anything at all (more on that later).

How do I get out of debt? Cheapest ways to pay off what you owe.

Coins with small mortarboard on top. (Image: Shutterstock)

Jumpstart your savings

Chances are that during your time at university you weren’t as concerned with saving for the future, as you were with going out drinking with your mates.

But living back at home is the perfect time to get those savings started up again without being around the student drinking culture that can so easily lure you in.

I’ve found that even working a part-time job allowed me to set aside at least half of my pay check into my savings account to help get myself back on track.

Even transferring a little bit of whatever you can spare every month will help you build a financial safety net.

From there, you can jumpstart saving for your first house (or at least a security deposit to rent your own place).

Compare a range of savings accounts at loveMONEY.

Spend less on food

Let’s face it, whether it’s a greasy kebab on a night out or a takeaway when we forgot to do the food shop, a lot of students are likely to blow a lot of their cash on food.

If you live at home, it’s likely that you will be sharing meals with your parents.

So make the most of it and let your mum stuff you with vegetables for as long as you can!

Intern working on computer. (Image: Shutterstock)

Take advantage of any opportunities

Whether you took a degree in psychology or drama, a lot of the time finding a graduate job certainly isn’t as easy as you had hoped.

Living at home means you can afford to take opportunities that aren’t particularly well paid to gain experience in your chosen field. This may include volunteering, internships or jobs that you are unsure about.

The world can be your oyster as you have the freedom to try new things – and still save money.

So, while not everyone will be comfortable with the idea of moving back home after university, there are a lot of perks on offer.

If you’re lucky, it may be a much-needed reprieve from the scrimping student life you had before.

How to lend a helping hand

Of course, this all depends on how happy your parents will be to have you back.

So how can you actually contribute to the household if you’re still broke?

Do the occasional food shop

Finished the last of the milk? Pick up a pint (or two) of milk on your way home.

Your mum may seem like a super shopper, but if you were the one to finish it, chances are it won’t magically reappear unless you do it.

Grabbing the occasional groceries doesn’t seem like much, but it can be a huge help around the house.

You can also whip something up for dinner (even if you’re no Gordon Ramsey) to help your parents out.

Check out the latest cheap supermarket offers and deals.

Help with bills if you can

After living at home for a bit, you may be in the position to actually help out with expenses.

One of the great things about living at home in most cases though, is that it may not be compulsory to pay bills or rent.

If you can afford it one month and not the other, that’s usefully fine although this depends on your parents’ expectations.

Even if you do pay rent at your parents’ place, it will likely be far less than you'd spend elsewhere.

Whether it’s a couple hundred pound a month or even less, you can still help your parents out.

If you take advantage of moving back home to pay down debt and build up some savings, you're likely to be a strong position when you leave and start your career. 

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