by Jenny Smedra
Let me begin with a brief overview of my life in a large family. I live in a busy, boisterous, multigenerational home. After teaching abroad in Cairns Primary Schools I returned home and currently live with my parents, two nieces, and my grandmother. Our house is full of love, laughter, and sometimes chaos. But even when there is friction, we find a way to make things work. We are all living under the same roof for different reasons. However, a few of them fall within the financial realm. Though you might expect the contrary, we have discovered that there are financial benefits of living in a multigenerational home.
Financial Benefits of a Multigenerational Home
Huge Savings with Long-Term Elder Care
The greatest financial relief has been our savings on long-term elder care. About ten years ago, my family had to set up long-term care for my grandmother. She needed round the clock medical treatment after a particularly nasty fall. She spent several months in hospice care. However, once she recovered enough to be released, there was still serious concerns of her living alone.
With her safety in mind, my mom and her sisters first looked into assisted care facilities. The retirement communities provided top-quality care and 24-hour support from healthcare professionals. But, it came with an average price tag of about $10,000 a month. Knowing she would likely need her savings for future health care expenses, the entire family decided it was best to protect her savings and share the responsibility.
We created a rotating schedule that allows my grandmother to spend two weeks at a time between our household and my aunt’s. She gets to spend quality time with all her loved ones, and we each play a role in caring for her. Whether it is driving her to doctor’s appointments, preparing her meals, giving her daily vitamins and medicine, lending a hand during physical therapy, helping her to the bathroom, or simply spending time with her, we all do our part. Living in a multigenerational home means we are able to support one another. We delegate tasks to lighten the load while greatly reducing my grandmother’s medical expenses at the same time.
Cutting the Cost of Child Care
Another huge monthly expense is child care. If all the adults work and the children are not old enough to stay home unsupervised, it can be a challenge to find affordable child care. Daycare services require a good chunk of your monthly budget, especially if you are only working part time or can only find minimum wage work.
One of the best parts of our living situation is that there is always someone around to talk to or help out. Since I’ve been home, child care has been one of my greatest contributions to the household. Although both my nieces are independent and self-sufficient, having another adult in the picture removes a lot of stress. I am there to help with meals, chores, or homework questions so my parents to focus on their other responsibilities.
Free Tutoring Services
As a trained teacher, I understand that sometimes kids need extra help. While teaching jobs overseas, I provided individual academic support for homework and college test prep. For anyone who has taken advantage of these programs, you know just how costly they can be. Although this is not a necessary expense for every family, it is a service I can offer mine for free.
Now that I am home and under the same roof, it is much easier to assist since we have more time together. I work from home as well, so I also have more flexibility to work around their schedules. By identifying and focusing on areas where they need the most improvement, I can help ensure that they get the best education possible.
Cost of Rent and Living Expenses
Another consideration is how much money we save on housing expenses. Although the monthly bills are more expensive than the average household, we save hundreds of dollars each month. Living together means we pay less in property taxes, rent payments, utilities, maintenance, and repairs costs for a single home. Combining several smaller residences has helped us reduce the final tally of our monthly living expenses.
Budgeting Tips for a Multigenerational Home
One of the greatest challenges in our house is keeping to the monthly budget. With so many people, there are a lot of daily necessities to pay for. However, here are a few effective budgeting tips we use to reduce the bills.
- We save a ton on groceries by buying food in bulk. Thanks to discount clubs, we enjoy huge savings on our monthly grocery shopping.
- To conserve water and reduce utility bills, we always make sure to run full loads of laundry and dishes. Filling home appliances to capacity can help minimize your electricity and water consumption.
- In our home, we repurpose and reuse everything. Not only does it save money, but my family even looks forward to it. Hand-me-downs and clothes-swaps become a regular event among our cousins, friends, and nieces.
- Lastly, we maintain a regular schedule. This is probably the most difficult since we have to keep track of everyone’s day to day needs. However, using a calendar means I won’t miss appointments or payments resulting in penalties or late fees.
Financial and Social Benefits of a Multigenerational Home
Although it is not always easy, living in a multigenerational home comes with many benefits. In addition to the financial ones I discussed, there are many social advantages as well. Studies of the effects of combined child and elder care suggest that it benefits all age groups. Children benefit from having more caring adults in their lives. Additionally, the elderly feel needed, stay active, and can contribute to the household in their own way. Most importantly, it lessens the responsibility on individual caretakers when everyone plays their role. Nothing is perfect, but our living arrangement has definitely enhanced the quality of our family life and created a stronger support network.