10 Ways to Save Money So You Don’t Have to Move Back in With Your Parents

ways to save money
Penny Hoarder writer Carson Kohler moved back in with her parents in St. Petersburg, Fla., after college to save money. Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder

Yes, I moved back in with my parents after college.

And, yes, I’m lucky — admittedly a bit spoiled — but I’ve saved tons of money in the past nine months.

I’m not the only one, either. Right now, more than ever before, more 18 to 34 year olds live with their parents than any other living arrangements, Pew Research Center reports.

For ye haters, I’ll say it again: I know I’m lucky.

But it’s not all home-cooked food and freebies. There are plenty of adjustments required — especially after foraging on my own for six years.

So what if you don’t want to move back in with your folks who love political debates? Or a pesky college-aged brother who still occasionally tattles on you. Or the pet bird with headache-inducing squawks…


10 Ways to Save Money Without Moving Back in With Your Parents

Since working at The Penny Hoarder, I’ve learned there are plenty of other ways I can save money — ways that don’t cause my angsty high school ’tude to bubble up.

Below are some of my favorite ways to save money — ways that will eventually allow me to venture out on my own again, and hopefully keep you from having to make the move back home.

1. Drive with Uber.

I’m always startled by apartment rental prices as I peruse Zillow. And I don’t even live in that big of a city.

But think of it this way: The bigger the city, the more people — and the more Uber requests. OK, that’s my line of logic — it’s not #science.

Driving with Uber during nights and weekends, especially in big cities, could easily help you pay rent. In fact, I recently interviewed six Uber drivers, two who do just fine driving full time.

Folks told me signing up is super simple, too.

2. Get fit.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m the absolute worst at keeping my workout goals in check. After about two weeks and three skipped workouts, I give up.

But financial motivation helps big time.

I downloaded the Achievemint app a couple of weeks ago. Basically, it rewards you in points for making mindless, healthy efforts — like just taking more steps. When you get 10,000 points, Achievemint lets you cash out for a $10 Amazon card.

If $10 doesn’t do it for you, HealthyWage might. This site allows you to place a bet on your weight loss goals. Jaclyn Brown lost 140 pounds and made more than $5,000.

3. Start investing — no tricky financial jargon required.

Heard that phrase “make your money work for you”? Me too, but I never really understood it — or how I could employ my money.

Investing is a big fat financial resolution for me. And although the jargon and numbers totally scare me, there are so many apps out there that make investing way too easy.

For example, I’m going to try Stash, which comes highly recommended from several of our staff members, including Jamie Cattanach. Like me, she knew little about investing but got started by investing $5 a week — without thinking about it. Right now, you can get a free $5 to invest just for trying it out through this link with the code PENNYH.

4. Stop worrying when the next sale will be.

Sometimes, when shopping online, I sit around and twiddle my thumbs waiting for a sale to strike. Unfortunately, sometimes I miss the sale — and that product I needed.

But Paribus helps.

After you download it, the tool scans your email archives for receipts. It might sound a little intrusive, but we use it here at The Penny Hoarder to save a buck or two.

Here’s how it works: If it detects purchases from one of the 29 major retailers it monitors, it tracks the item’s price. If the price drops, it issues you a refund for the difference.

Every penny counts, right?

5. Participate in a clinical trial.

Have any aches or pains? I’m constantly complaining about my latest malfunction. But it’s not all so bad.

You could actually get paid to help yourself — well, the doctors — work to find a cure. Basically, you’ll be a human guinea pig, but they take good care of ya!

Right now, there are four open trials worth looking into right now:

  • Migraines – If you’ve never had a migraine, be glad you can just take my word for it: They're really, really bad. Local research studies may offer payment/compensation up to $1,150 (learn more here). These studies help doctors discover better ways to treat — and hopefully eliminate — migraines.
  • Psoriasis (M3 Global Research): Psoriasis psucks! But, if you’ve got it you can earn $5-$100 taking online surveys and contribute to advancements in medical treatment — without even leaving your couch!
  • Sleep: No real health issue, but just wanna get paid to nap? That’s me. NASA has actually paid participants $5,000 a month to stay in bed. Worth taking a month of sick days for? Maybe. Take note from Jillian Shea, who got paid $12,000 for participating in these studies.
  • Crohn’s disease – Have you been diagnosed with this chronic gastrointestinal disease? If you’ve had Crohn’s for at least three months, you may qualify for one of the local studies that may offer payment that varies by study up to $750. Plus, you may also receive no-cost study-related care for the length of the study. (Learn more here)

6. Sell your stuff — or other people’s stuff — online.

Moving back home, I had tons of stuff I needed to purge.

This included items that simply didn’t fit in my car for the long trek home, as well as items from high school collecting dust.

My first instinct is to donate — get rid of stuff as quickly and effortlessly as possible. But really, you can make good money off the possessions you don’t want by selling them online through platforms like letgo.

This Craigslist-esque site allows you to buy and sell just about anything by location. You just take a photo of the item with the app and post it online.

However, a lot of people just want to get rid of items as quickly as possible. If you don’t have anything you want to get rid of, offer to sell other people’s items. My roommate in grad school did this and would accept a percentage of the profit.

7. Earn cash back from basically anywhere you shop online.

Ebates is an online tool offers consumers up to 40% cash back at more than 1,200 online stores — although 5% to 10% cash back is more common. Either way, it’s money.

Plus, when you sign up, you get a $10 welcome bonus. Then, you search the site to find your desired retailer — like Amazon — and click “Shop Now.” Within 48 hours, you’ll see the money in your account.

8. Do 10-minute car inspections — no experience required.

I know nothing about cars, but I do know I could handle this job.

One of our readers, Maryellen Honkomp, reached out to us about OnSource, an app for visual car inspections. You do the inspection — and it’s all from an app.

No mechanical experience is required, and inspections take about 10 minutes. Honkomp banks up to $40 in 20 minutes — just by using her phone and taking some photos.

Not bad, right?

9. Make money surfing the web.

Do you use the internet? Funny question; of course you do.

The Digital Reflection Panel — think of it as the Nielsen for the internet — pays you more than  $200 a year. And you really don’t have to do anything.

Once you connect the device to your wireless router, you’re good to go (aside from a few updates).

Our writer Kelly Smith walked through the setup process.

10. Get money back after your next grocery run.

So far, I’ve touched on how to make money from your online purchases, which are sometimes wants — not needs.

But we all need groceries, and if you’re like me, you dread grocery shopping. But using a cash-back app like Ibotta really make the task a bit less painstaking.

You’ll download the app, unlock the rebates you desire, shop, scan the items’ barcodes and upload the receipt. You’ll find cash in your account within 48 hours.

Moral of the story? I know I can do it… move out of my ’rents house — and start paying rent. There are plenty of tools out there to help me make and save money.

…one of these days, right?

Your Turn: How did you get by without moving back in with your parents?

Disclosure: We don’t hesitate to pick pennies off the sidewalk when we spot them. But the affiliate links in this post help our earnings grow even quicker. Plus, it’s a lot cleaner than sidewalk money.

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. After recently completing graduate school, she focuses on saving money — and surviving the move back in with her parents.

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