Survival Guide for Young Adults Back Home During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the professional and educational lives of a broad range of young people — and that’s especially true for younger members of the millennial generation. 

Many recent college graduates can’t find a job due to the onslaught of layoffs and business closures that have occurred due to the pandemic, so many young people have recently been forced to move back in with their parents. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the unemployment rate for 25- to 34-year-olds with bachelor’s degrees was already 86% in 2018, and the pandemic is only making things more difficult.

Current college students have also been severely impacted. According to a survey of over 80,000 high school and college students, 86% of college students had been displaced, returned home, and have shifted to online learning instead. Many young adults who had already established their careers are now also considering a move back home after job losses, pay-cuts and other setbacks that can be attributed to the coronavirus.

This trend isn’t entirely a new phenomenon, though. According to the Pew Research Center, millennials are the generation most likely to live at home in their 20s and 30s. Recent college graduates often move back in with their parents so they can save money to buy a house, pay off their student loans and save on everyday expenses.

While moving back home isn’t the ideal living situation for many young adults, it does provide the opportunity to avoid unnecessary costs so you can save up money to move out on your own terms.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to make the most of your move back home from a financial and professional perspective. These tips will assist you in establishing financial independence, which will allow you to pursue your career and life goals without living paycheck to paycheck.

Manage your money now to prepare to move out later

1. Figure out your budget.

According to Adem Selita, CEO of The Debt Relief Company, the first step to take when moving back in with your parents is to do an overview of your financial situation.

“Understanding your budget is crucial to make the most of your time when living at home. If you don’t know your monthly liabilities and understand your financial situation, you won’t be able to realistically plan for the future and get ahead. If you are not paying rent to your parents, you should capitalize on this and use any savings to either aggressively tackle student loan debt, pay down credit card debt or save for investments. Many millennials don’t take advantage of this! If you can do this, you will be that much ahead of your peers,” Selita said.

Try to think critically about the goals you want to achieve while living at home and calculate how much money you need to achieve them. If you have already established goals for your budget, consider using a budget app to make it easier to manage your money.

Here are 5 apps you should consider:

5 Budget and Savings Apps You Can Start Using Today
Mint: Perfect for budgeting beginners, this app tracks and records your spending and categorizes your expenditures for you.
Acorns: If you’re looking to invest, but don’t know where to start, this app will round up your debit purchases and invest the extra change into an Independent Retirement Account (IRA).
Prism: For those looking for an easier way to view their entire financial profile, this app connects your bank accounts, tracks your recurring bills and shows you a calendar of your expenses.
Monefy: This free money management app helps you track your expenses using simple charts and overviews.
Personal Capital: Starting with free financial tools, this app helps you get a grip on your net worth, your cash flow, your budget and your retirement. It even has a tool to help you plan for education costs.

2. Save, save, save!

Once you’ve determined how much money you need to allocate to living expenses, you can start thinking about how much you’d like to have saved up by the time you move out. 

“Begin building an emergency fund. Consider storing emergency money in an online-only, high-yield savings account to earn as much interest as you can. Aim to save enough to cover at least three to six months of essential expenses, which can include food, gas and essential bills,” Sean Messier, associate editor at Credit Card Insider, said.

A high-yield savings account will provide you with more accrued interest on your savings than a regular savings account will. You won’t be able to make as many withdrawals from this type of account, but that shouldn’t be a problem if you’ve worked out your budget for living expenses.

Here are a few high-yield savings accounts you should consider:

Best High-Yield Savings AccountsCurrent APY Rate
American Express Personal Savings Account1.15%
Capital One Savings Account1.15%
Marcus by Goldman Sachs1.30%
UFB Direct1.51%

3. Pay off as much debt as possible.

Some of the money you’re saving on living expenses while living at home can be used to tackle your debt. If you’re not ready to start paying back your student loan debt, you can focus on credit card debt, auto loans or any other type of debt you’ve acquired instead.

Keep in mind that the longer your account balance sits, the more interest it accrues, and the more you’ll have to pay in interest in the long run. Credit card debt is considered by most experts to be the most expensive to carry, so consider tackling that first if you have it.

4. Be mindful of your spending.

If you’re saving money on expenses like rent and utilities, you’ll probably see more money in your bank account, which can make it tempting to spend it on frivolous things rather than focusing on your financial goals.

This isn’t to say you need to stay cooped up in your parent’s house and never go out, mind you. Just focus on your financial goals first. Once you’ve paid your expenses and put money aside for savings, you can use any money that’s left for things you enjoy.

5. Build your credit.

It generally takes years to build credit. Your credit score is based not just on how faithfully you repay your debts, but also on the length of your credit history. The longer you’ve had debt and made on-time payments, the higher your credit score will be. If you only use your credit cards occasionally and then pay off the balance, you’ll also be able to build solid credit.

If you have student loans, credit cards or a car loan, these types of debts — and whether you make your payments on time — will impact your credit score. While at your parent’s house, focus on making on-time payments for all your debts. If possible, pay down high-interest debts as soon as you can.

Your credit score will be important when you move out. A landlord may run a credit check on you and use your score in their decision to let you rent an apartment. You’ll also need a decent credit score if you want to get good rates on a car loan or a mortgage.

Focus on your career development

Naturally, your money must come from somewhere. If you’re living at home and thinking about your next career move, you have a unique opportunity to focus on your career development goals.

1. Work on your resume.

You may already have a resume, but there is always room for improvement. Make sure your employment history is up to date, and add any education, volunteer experience or skills you may have gained while living at home.

It also helps to have someone else look at your resume. If you have a mentor or a career coach, use them as a resource for building the best resume possible. You can also ask your parents to give you an objective opinion.

2. Prioritize your job search.

Whether you’re on the hunt for a summer job, a full-time career or you’re looking to start a side business, you’ll need a job to secure your financial independence.

Caleb Backe, Certified Life Coach and Career Consultant at Maple Holistics, recommends you start searching for a job as soon as possible, even if you’re unsure about the economy during the pandemic. “Many recent graduates might be hesitant to apply for jobs during this uncertain time,” he said, “but the truth is that a high majority of businesses have moved to remote work. Although the economy is shaky, to say the least, there are still businesses that are hiring and are adapting to work-from-home conditions. To this end, recent grads don’t necessarily need to hold off the job application process. Spruce up your resume and start looking for open entry-level positions in your industry.”

Here are some work-from-home jobs you should consider:

Job Category Skills requiredSalary
Freelance WriterA freelance writer produces written text for clients. You’ll need a background in writing if you want to be successful.  $33,000 – $83,000/year
TranscriberA transcriber (or transcriptionist) listens to recorded speech and turns it into text. You only need typing skills to do this job.  $18,000 – $36,000/year 
Search Engine EvaluatorSearch engine evaluators analyze search results to make sure they are accurate. You’ll need a high school diploma and knowledge of the internet to start this position.  $25,000 – $48,000/year
Insurance AdjusterInsurance adjusters inspect property damage to determine how much an insurance company should pay for losses. You’ll need a high school diploma to enter this position, but preferably a bachelor’s degree.  $36,000 – $60,000/year
Social Media ManagerSocial media managers are in charge of company social media accounts, representing the company online. Most companies require a bachelor’s degree for this position.  $35,000 – $72,000/year
Online Survey TakerSurvey takers get paid to submit honest responses to online surveys. You can take surveys on your own to earn rewards, but some companies hire survey takers.  $19,000 – $38,000/year
Data EntryA data entry clerk updates data into a computer system. You need fast typing skills and excellent knowledge of word processing and spreadsheet tools.  $21,000 – $37,000
Customer Service RepresentativeAs a customer service representative working from home, you’ll resolve customer queries by phone or online. You’ll need a high school diploma for an entry-level position.  $21,000 – $36,000

*Based on numbers from Glassdoor.com

3.  Make time for your professional development.

If you have extra time while living at home, you can devote some of it to your professional development. Even if you have a bachelor’s degree, you can still take online courses and earn certifications on your own to increase your chances of getting hired or learn new skills.

Here are some online learning platforms you should investigate:

  1. LinkedIn Learning – Offers skill-building courses great for day-to-day learning.
  2. Udemy – Provides a robust offering of courses on niche topics and is great for learning office skills.
  3. Skillshare – Offers courses in creative fields like animation, design and film.
  4. Codecademy – For program coding courses, such as web development and data science.
  5. edX – For professional certifications in computer science, business and more.
  6. Alison – For free courses important for jobs like finance, IT and more.
  7. Coursera – For both miscellaneous and in-demand skills like IT, AI and cloud engineering.
  8. General Assembly – For technology and business courses led by experts, including coding boot camps.
  9. Harvard University – Free online courses from an Ivy League school in business, data science, humanities and more. Looks great on a resume.

4. Work your network.

If you have any connections through school, family or a previous job, don’t hesitate to tap into those connections to find employment or get endorsements. Some student organizations, like fraternities and sororities, can offer great networking opportunities after you graduate. If one of your old supervisors loved you, they might be able to put in a good word for you, too.

Other tips for making the most of your move back home

1. Build an exit strategy.

Your goals shouldn’t be vague ideas — they should be concrete. Try writing down specific goals that are realistic for you to achieve, such as the amount of money you intend to save over a year, or the salary you’d like to obtain from a new job. These goals should be time-sensitive. Try to estimate how long you’ll need to remain at home before you’re ready to move out.

Timothy E. Hanson, Founder and CEO of Wealth Growth Wisdom, LLC suggests you work on an actionable timeline with your parents. 

“It’s important to have a lease or written contract that sets out your expectations,” he said. “Both parent and child should sign it, date it and file it for easy access. This includes setting a target for how long the adult child will live at home, with the caveat that plans often change. While the adult child can find some freelance side work, such as article writing, affiliate marketing, blogging and so on to do while at home, parents can also help them look for work, [and] set goals around how many hours a day she or he will spend on the job search. They can also help by making an introduction to people in their network who can help with informational interviews,” Hanson said.

2. Talk with an expert.

You don’t have to work on your financial goals completely on your own. If you are still a student, you should have access to financial planning resources at school, whether it’s through an advisor or a career center. There may also be financial professionals who can help you at your local bank or credit union.

3. Find an ally that keeps you focused on your goals.

Your parents may want the best for you, but they may not be the best people to turn to when trying to reach your professional and financial goals. It helps to get an outside perspective. Seek out a supportive friend or mentor with whom you can set goals and report progress instead.

4. Take care of your health.

Moving back home can be stressful. It can impact your routine, and you may no longer have access to resources like a gym or health center. It’s important not to fall into bad habits that could impact your future, especially when it comes to your health.

Even if you don’t have a job, stick to a schedule. Designate a few hours each week for getting exercise, and ensure you eat healthy foods and get enough sleep. You’ll need your energy to pursue your goals.

The final word

Adjusting to life back home can be difficult after having a taste of freedom, but you shouldn’t let it get you down. You are among many young people who have decided to move back home to save money and determine their next steps.

Although the situation isn’t always ideal, it does present a great opportunity to bolster your financial and professional development. Take advantage of the time you have now so you can set yourself up for financial independence in the future.

Michael Rand

Personal Finance Contributor

Michael Rand is a business and personal finance writer based in Beverly, Massachusetts. He holds a master’s degree in writing from Salem State University and spent years producing content for financial services clients as an agency writer. His work has been featured in publications like Interest.com, The Simple Dollar, and Monetize.info.