In the final weeks of my senior year it became clear the 100+ job applications I’d sent to various broadcast news stations and newspapers around the country had been tossed into garbage cans or sent to junk mail. It appeared I would face the same fate as scores of other millennials on graduation day; returning home to live with my parents.
In my desperation for any sort of employment, I began searching online 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.
On graduation day, I walked across the stage, got handed a piece of paper and received initiation into the not-so-elite club of the over-educated and under-employed. But I had hope! Books-A-Million had called the day before requesting I come in for an interview as a sales clerk.
(When this picture was snapped, I was the only one moving home and not heading to grad school. It was a rough day.)
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 the #Broke Millennial home, returning to the nest would not be a free ride. Returning home after graduation meant a grace period of three months before being expected to pay rent.
My fellow millennials, please hold your gasps and shouts of outrage because I’m about to betray the millennial code. I absolutely agree. 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.
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 their love for you (plus a touch of guilty conscience). Moving back into the nest is not a right provided to you by a shared bloodline.
Reason 2: Get a Job
Let’s face it, a multitude of millennials are having trouble finding an entry-level career job. 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 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: The “Real World” Requires Rent (and lots of extras)
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.