Money Talks, So Should You

Homecoming King: The adventures of living at home

Jim McLaughlin
by Jim McLaughlin, Dimespring 30

Adulthood is creeping its way into my friends’ lives: first cars, apartments with in-unit laundry, student loan payments, passing up bar specials because there’s work in the morning. More dramatically, a few are getting married, having kids and one just bought a house. My coming-of-age moment was when I found myself at the grocery store buying eggplant, just because I figured it would be good for me. But after all my small steps for man, I'm taking a giant leap  backward.

I’ve lived away from home for the last six years, two of them as a college graduate, and I was finally getting the hang of being a grown-up. I learned to balance work and play, despite years of rowdy roommates threatening chaos at every happy hour. I kept a (loose) budget, paid my bills on time, even saved a little bit. Thoreau found himself and transcended society’s shackles in Walden; I did it in my cozy Milwaukee apartment. And I was really, really happy there.

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But when I finished my second year teaching elementary school in June, I got a hankerin’ to head back home to my family in Chicago. The allure of saving money was one reason, but spending time with them was what compelled me to do it in the end.

In "The Odyssey," Odysseus leaves Calypso’s island, which was like paradise to him, in order to embark on his quest to return to his family in Ithaca. Though perhaps slightly less epic, the premise is the same for my adventures living at home. I’ve set some personal and financial goals for my time with my new roommates, Mom and Dad, hoping to whittle away some debt and save for a more permanent launch into adulthood. That means I’ll need to resist the Sirens’ song of impulse purchases and my beloved Groupon deals, so that “saving money” doesn’t devolve into “having fewer expenses to stop me from squandering all of my paychecks.”

READ: How to live in a debt culture

I already miss my hip downtown apartment in Milwaukee that was stumbling distance from bars where drinks cost a fraction of what they do in Chicago. But coming home has so far been a satisfying mix of everything being familiar but everyone feeling brand new. I’m learning how Jim the Grown-Up fits into the daily goings-on of my household. And it’s providing me a good chance to move along my career trajectory in a bigger city with lots of entry points.

I’ve nestled in enough to get a gym membership, set up my home workspace and restart my hobby for homebrewing my own beer and wine. Don’t expect things to stay placid for long though — sharing a bathroom with my 14-year-old sister will be a more harrowing battle than fending off an angry swarm of Laestrygonian cannibals.

Jim McLaughlin is a member of the Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, experiences and perspectives on personal finance.