They say there are only two guarantees in life: death and taxes. I say there are three: death, taxes and the panic of finding a job before you have to move back in with your parents. Like many of my peers, I spent my senior year desperately seeking employment, any employment. With majors only slightly more practical than cannabis cultivation, it seemed my walk across the stage at graduation would lead straight back to my parents’ house.
In my desperation for any sort of employment, I began searching for minimum wage jobs near my parents’ home. I sent applications to the local chain stores, movie theaters and fast food joints in their zip code. The day I donned my cap and gown I only had one job prospect, Books-A-Million had called requesting I come in for an interview as a sales clerk.
I’d love to chalk up my drive for employment to my impeccable work ethic and insatiable desire to better my financial future. While the latter is probably true, my motivation came from the inevitable rent check I’d have to start writing each month. In my family, returning to the nest would not be a free ride. After graduation I’d be given a grace period of three months before having to pay rent.
Hold your gasps of shock and cries of misplaced outrage. I firmly believe, after a designated grace period, parents should require “boomerage kids” to pay rent.
I’m not saying parents should charge a rent on par with living independently (unless the situation warrants). My suggested amount is between $100-$300 depending on both the child’s financial situation and his or her financial burden to the home.
For the millennials (and parents) who disagree, let me break it down for you with three simple reasons.
Reason 1: Your Parents Don’t Owe you Sh*t
Apologies for the lack of eloquence, but it’s true. By law, your parents no longer have to support you, financially, after the age of 18 (or in some cases 21). If they’re allowing you back into their home, then it’s from the kindness of their hearts and probably a bit of a guilty conscience. Moving back into the nest is not a right provided to you by a shared bloodline.
Reason 2: Get a J-O-B
It seems a week can’t pass without some journalist covering the difficulties millennials are facing with the job market. To a degree, they are right. It’s a buyer’s market and employers are the buyers. Potential employers have thousands upon thousands of qualified, college-educated, well-rounded applicants pounding on the door. You are not special. Sorry.
If your hundreds of job applications have gone unanswered then it’s time to reevaluate your search and lower your expectations. Is the local grocery store hiring? Got a Starbucks within a reasonable drive? The Golden Arches usually has some open spots.
A college degree shouldn’t be a crutch to avoid being employed. Working part-time, or full-time, at a minimum wage job is not beneath you. If you’re living at home while searching for a job related to your major, great. Just be sure to have a job in the interim.
Reason 3: In the “Real World” You’ll Owe A Lot More Than Rent and Student Loans
Hypothetically, you’ve secured yourself a part-time, minimum wage job. You’re only making $800 a month. You’re already spending $350 of it on loan payments. Why should Mom and Dad take another $100+ in rent fees? Because, paying a monthly stipend to Mom and Dad while beginning to pay off student loans will prepare you for when you’re balancing all the costs of the “real world.”
When you’re living independently you’ll be responsible for a lot more than rent and student loan bills. You’ll need to balance rent and student loans on top of utility bills, grocery bills, cellphone bills, cable bills, insurance bills, transportation bills, internet bills and of course the bar tab bills each month.
I know many of you are sputtering out the whole point of living at home is to save money. You still should be saving money. If you’re not responsible for any expenses other than student loans and a small rent stipend then you should be able to save a decent amount of your pay check each month. Also, remember student loan payments don’t kick in for six months after graduation. That’s a long period of time to save a majority of your income.
Parents, if the idea of charging rent is too outrageous then consider requiring your millennial to buy all of his or her own groceries, perform weekly household tasks and chip in for utilities, pay his or her cellphone bill, car payments and car insurance each month.
Parents, have you or would you charge rent? Millennials, did (do) you pay rent? If not, did you help contribute to the home in some other way?