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Change in Expenses as Children Graduate College
Old 08-08-2017, 12:53 PM   #1
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Change in Expenses as Children Graduate College

We're a family of 4. While the kids have been in school, we have paid for almost everything (clothing, food, gas, etc). DD just graduated college and is working, but still living at home. DS is entering his Junior year of college. I'm curious what impact on expenses others have seen (excluding the college tuition going away) as the kids move from school to working, while still living at home? I have not shifted basic expenses to DS yet (cell phone, car insurance, health insurance, etc), but hope to do so gradually, and was thinking about having her pay rent starting January.
So, for example, could $100k/yr expenses go to $80k simply from them paying their own way? Or am I too optimistic?
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Old 08-08-2017, 01:27 PM   #2
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The only way to know for sure what the impact on your situation will be is to look back over the last few years of expenses and see which ones will fall off your tab.

We are also a family of four, both daughters are fully supporting themselves, and have been since they graduated college. Neither lived with us after graduating.

Of course the tuition bills went away. They started paying their own auto, health, and renter's insurance. They are still on our cell phone plan but pay their share monthly. Our food and utility bills had gone down a little when they went to college so we had already gained there.

Other than birthday/Christmas gifts, the girls had been buying their own clothing since they left HS. They always were responsible for buying their own gas. Nothing to be gained here once they graduated college.

Looking back, I guess we gradually shifted their expenses to them from the time they were about 16 yrs old and got jobs. Therefore in our case, not counting the tuition, I don't think our expenses went down $20K or 20%.
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Old 08-08-2017, 05:47 PM   #3
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.... So, for example, could $100k/yr expenses go to $80k simply from them paying their own way? Or am I too optimistic?
No. Yes.
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Old 08-09-2017, 06:25 AM   #4
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We structured our whole "get the kids through college" a bit differently. Of course our situation was different to begin with but that's another story. Basically, our kids were pretty smart and were able to get some scholarship money, some grants and some loans. We let them do everything on their own. We told them at the time that if they stayed in, got jobs (or full time stay-at-home) we would help them repay their loans. That's what we have done. Worked well for them (they learned how to live cheap and value their education) and it worked well for us (we know much better now about our finances and how much we can help out than we did before we FIRE'd.) I don't recommend this but it worked very well for our family - of course YMMV.
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Old 08-09-2017, 09:34 AM   #5
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My response will probably not be helpful, not typical, but my results indicate an almost zero reduction in expenses. Trivially small decrease in utilities, maybe.

DW got the budget for groceries, her stuff, and kid stuff, since "forever". The money gets transferred automatically every couple of weeks. Originally the money was a split of a direct deposit out of my paycheck, then after RE, I set-up an automatic transfer. We never discuss spending or question what each other buys. No need to unless we're doing something really exceptional (buying a car or something like that).

Over the years where our kids were starting college, she was still supplying them with at least some food and clothing, so the topic of removing the kids portion of her budget didn't sound right at the time. Then, over time, she bought less and less. Now they're on their own and she buys them generous gifts of clothing occasionally, but nothing like daily groceries and all their clothes and supplies. But I figure that peace on the marital front is worth more than trying to claw-back the kid portion of her budget. DW now is spending much more money than in the past decorating...painting some interior portions of the house. Whatever. Unless she's happy, there's no hope for me.
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Old 08-09-2017, 09:38 AM   #6
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Hmm, funny I had a similar question when I had a boyfriend move in with me and I had to figure out what he added to my overall expenses The answer is yes it could be that much depending on what you are including and what you plan to stop including.
  1. Auto (registration, car payment, car repair/maintenance, gas, insurance, DMV)
  2. Food/dining.. ie you go out for dinner, I assume you pay their bill too.
  3. Utilities (are there things you have you only have for your kids? cable channels? higher internet and data packages, plus the relative % for more water, more electricity, more wear on your appliances).
  4. Vacations? Do they come along, would you continue to pay?
  5. Clothing, personal care (hair, makeup)
  6. Medical (eye, dental, and health).
  7. Electronics (phone, tablets, computers, apps)
  8. Entertainment (movies, concerts, athletic events, outings)
  9. Misc (anything from towels to pens to chairs, etc.. stuff.. people like/need stuff. I assume stuff wears out and needs to be replaced).
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Old 08-09-2017, 09:46 AM   #7
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My response will probably not be helpful, not typical, but my results indicate an almost zero reduction in expenses. Trivially small decrease in utilities, maybe.

DW got the budget for groceries, her stuff, and kid stuff, since "forever". The money gets transferred automatically every couple of weeks. Originally the money was a split of a direct deposit out of my paycheck, then after RE, I set-up an automatic transfer. We never discuss spending or question what each other buys. No need to unless we're doing something really exceptional (buying a car or something like that).

Over the years where our kids were starting college, she was still supplying them with at least some food and clothing, so the topic of removing the kids portion of her budget didn't sound right at the time. Then, over time, she bought less and less. Now they're on their own and she buys them generous gifts of clothing occasionally, but nothing like daily groceries and all their clothes and supplies. But I figure that peace on the marital front is worth more than trying to claw-back the kid portion of her budget. DW now is spending much more money than in the past decorating...painting some interior portions of the house. Whatever. Unless she's happy, there's no hope for me.
LOL. you're such a smart man!!

Anyhoo op, I have two young adult sons still living at home.
My youngest is in his last year at Temple. since his college was paid for through a combo of grants and 529's I really didn't have a "tuition" bill. the money was saved long ago.

Both work and both pay me a small stipend for living. we do the 10% thing in my house. 10% must be saved for emergency, 10% must be saved for retirement and 10% for phones and cars. they both have used hand me down cars. They are on my policy but honestly they may cost me 700 bucks extra a year at most.

My biggest increase of course comes from food. I have no idea how it is possible for two kids to consume food as if it's the last day on earth but they go through food like termites through wood.
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Old 08-09-2017, 12:13 PM   #8
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We have 2 kids, now in their mid/late 20s. Our expenses went down quite a bit when they originally left the house to attend college. Yes, the tuition and R&B was expensive, but it was a known/planned/fixed cost. Gone were the $600 trips to the grocery store, endless high school expenses, fundraisers, clothing, athletic shoes, etc. Even utilities went down significantly after they moved out. We turned off the upstairs HVAC.

Also, we did not cover misc living expenses during college, just tuition and R&B (or an equivalent dollar figure once they moved off campus). They had PT and summer jobs that covered gas, eating out, clothes, movies, and bills once they moved off campus. We paid for health insurance, car insurance, and cell phone plan. They bought their own phones.

They never moved back in with us except a few summers early on. Once they graduated and got jobs, we dropped them from our health insurance and cell phone plan. They still drive cars that are registered in my name, so we still carry them on our auto policy, although they reimburse us for the cost on a monthly basis. For now, it's cheaper this way for them.

So no, beyond the cost of school itself, expenses didn't really go down much after they graduated. Just health insurance, car insurance, and cell phone plan. Nowhere close to 20%. For us, the more noticeable reduction was when they moved out originally. If I combine all that, it's probably in the neighborhood of 15-20%.
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Old 08-11-2017, 03:44 PM   #9
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Unfortunately, we weren't good about pushing more money responsibilities onto them earlier in their lives, but I'm hoping that will result in a somewhat bigger drop when they finally do become "FI" from us!
Shame on me also for not more closely monitoring the expenses over the years (and not having more 'buy-in' from DW in terms of expense tracking).
I'm trying to do a gradual hand-over with DD. Have already offloaded her credit card. Plan to start charging her for her part of the cell bill and car insurance starting in September. She'll have a small payment on her student loan starting in October. Then maybe we start charging some amount for rent in January timeframe. Unfortunately, she's not earning nearly as much as I'd expected with this entry job. But I have to remind myself that that was her choice and I can't subsidize her job choice.
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Old 08-11-2017, 04:08 PM   #10
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I am of the view that expenses will go down. Two kids currently in college, one to start this year and two to start in a few years. Although not really enough data to draw a definite conclusion, this past summer we were kidless or nearly so for a couple of months due to kids working, camps, etc. Our expenses for those two months were substantially less than normal.

I should add that we have college expenses in a separate "bucket" and do not count that towards our normal expenses.

So, for us at least, I do expect to see a continued decrease in expenses as the kids move off into the college world.
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Old 08-11-2017, 04:25 PM   #11
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I am optimistic too. I have two kids in college. I didn't have a savings for them as a result of my divorce and because I was paying my own college expenses. Both kids know they are off the payroll effective May 2018. The tuition savings alone should help out a lot. I hope I don't cave on the incidentals. Those will add up as well. Fingers crossed.
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Old 08-11-2017, 04:28 PM   #12
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When our two kids graduated college and got off the Mom & Dad, Inc payroll we got the largest "raise" we've ever seen!
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Old 08-11-2017, 04:35 PM   #13
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My oldest is launched. She has her own job, own health insurance, own car, own debt, own apartment, own problems, and lives in another city. We are on her netflix and amazon prime accounts, but want to also have her off our family cell phone plan. She should get her own cell phone plan and put us on it instead.

But Mom wants to see daughter more often than when she was away at college, so new expenses are more travel for daughter to visit us.

Yes, it is less expensive when she left, but that number is just college tuition and room & board.
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Old 08-11-2017, 04:47 PM   #14
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Lots of changes after the kids moved out. Because it was gradual, the impact to our budget was more like a decade with no inflation. After that, the spending went back up as they started families and new line items were added to our spending.
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Old 08-11-2017, 05:02 PM   #15
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I've tracked those numbers pretty close - budget before and after kids. It came out to be $10K each a year on average (not including college or away from home college housing / utilities). We've spent more some years with extraordinary expenses like big medical bills or special travel expenses, but more or less that is what we paid for kids at home. It has not been a straight drop to the budget because we do spend more on some categories for us like entertainment these days, since we have more free time. We also help out with air fare for them to come home to visit, we helped with their first cars in their names and a few other expenses as needed.
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Old 08-11-2017, 05:24 PM   #16
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We're spending about 8k/year per kid. That's taking groceries and dividing by 4 (2 kids, 2 adults). Taking gas and dividing by 4 (although most of our driving is driving THEM places.) Taking out their bus pass costs. Taking out their sports fees (rec center leagues... so cheap). Taking out piano lessons. Taking cell phone total bill and dividing by 4. (Although they use a lot more data than we do.)

We track it because the boys get a supplemental SS because DH is collecting and we have to certify that the money is going to their expenses.

It does not include discretionary items like the prorated portion of vacations... Even though this year's big trip was centered on college tours up and down the west coast.

I don't think we'll recoup $8k/kid when they are launched... mainly because I suspect our travel budget will go up by at least that much when we are no longer tied to their school schedule and no longer have to pay for their airfare when we travel.
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Old 08-11-2017, 09:33 PM   #17
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DS graduated college last December and moved in with us while job hunting. Then he decided to go to graduate school instead and has been living at home until this fall. We keep pretty good track of expenses.

When in college he lived with us awhile and commuted then moved to off campus housing (college an hour away from our house). Let's see. I can look this up in YNAB.

In 2016, we spent $23669 on him less tuition and books. This includes other school related expenses such as supplies or memberships. This does not include medical expenses (minimal) or the extra amount we had to pay on DH's retiree insurance to include DS and our DD on the policy. This does not include the added cost of car insurance for him which I think is about $2000 a year. So, not including those things, a little under $2000 a month.

For the first 6 months of this year for the same categories we spent $4010 a month on him which is about $668 a month.

So, about $1300 a month less which annualized would be $15,600. That said, there haven't been any major expensive things that came up during the first 6 months of this year. He spent less than $100 on clothing/personal care. Also, no major repairs on the 9 year old car that he drives. SO those things could change.

This also does not account for a few items of expense that went up when he moved back in with us but aren't quantified in the budget program. Food that he bought (using a credit card paid by us) was allocated to him as was food we bought specifically for him. But, he does eat some of the general groceries (that said, probably only about $50 a month). Also, utilities bills went up about 10 to 15% from what they were before he was here compared to last year.

Of course, YMMV depending on what expenses you were paid while your DD was in college. We have good records of what we were spending. DS will be moving out at the end of this month and graduate school is on him financially so we will be saving the $668 a month that we were paying the first 6 months. Actually since June, DS has been paying his expenses. He had taken out a relatively small student loan while in college that we were going to pay back for him. His expenses for July (except health insurance and car insurance) on are being deducted from the amount we will pay back of his student loan. Once he moves out and is not our dependent and not living here he will be getting his own car insurance so we will see that bill go down by a lot.
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