Every person’s journey to FIRE is largely determined by the gap between their expenses and their income. The lower the expenses and the higher the income (i.e. the larger the gap), the faster a person is able to reach FIRE.
In this post, I’d like to discuss the impact that living with my parents has on my journey to early retirement, using these very factors – expenses and income.
Living with my parents has been a heavily-guarded, shameful secret of mine for a while now, but I’ve decided that it was easier to be fully transparent. If you’re interested, I wrote a fairly detailed post on my decision to live with my parents here.
My past and current situation with my parents is fairly unique and may not apply to most people, but I hope that you will still be able to take something away from this. For anyone in the same situation, I hope this provides some value, and feel free to reach out.
Note: All currency stated in this post is in Singapore dollars (S$).
Without further ado, let’s dig in.
- Expenses – Living with Parents vs. Living Alone
- Income – Living with Parents vs. Living Alone
- Why I Haven’t Moved Out Yet
- 1. My relationship with my parents has improved a little, compared to the past.
- 2. I’m still hoping my parents might come to acknowledge me being happy with my girlfriend.
- 3. My brother still needs me around for the time-being.
- 4. I’m just delaying the inevitable because I’m afraid of the consequences.
Expenses – Living with Parents vs. Living Alone
Living with parents usually does come with financial benefits. I have to admit, I have lower expenses because I’m still living in my parents’ house.
Expenses – Living with Parents
Here’s a quick snapshot of my current average monthly expenses:
|Rent (Paid to Family)||$400|
|Food (Groceries and Dining Out)||$100 - $150|
|Transport||$60 - $90|
|Medical||$50 - $100|
|Miscellaneous||$30 - $50|
|Total||$725 - $875|
Expenses – Living Alone
If I were living on my own, my monthly expenses would probably look more like this:
|Rent/Mortgage||$700 - $1,500|
|Utilities||$150 - $200|
|Food (Groceries and Dining Out)||$200 - $250|
|Transport||$80 - $100|
|Medical||$50 - $100|
|Travel||$50 - $200|
|Miscellaneous||$50 - $100|
|Total||$1,330 - $2,500|
I won’t be going through my expenses in detail in this post, as I wrote about it at great lengths in other posts, which you can find right here.
And with that, let’s move on to analyse my income situation.
Income – Living with Parents vs. Living Alone
Income – Living with Parents
I’ll be the first to admit that I definitely reap the benefits of lower expenses while living with parents. However, because of their over-the-top-controlling and authoritative nature, my income situation is a little more tricky. Why? Because my freedom is severely restricted.
Restrictions on Freedom
Ever since I came out to my parents as being queer, as well as made the mistake of telling them that I was dating someone of the same gender, they have been (to put it politely) controlling as hell.
To cut a long story short, this is what I’m currently experiencing:
I’m never allowed to see my girlfriend, ever. And to enforce this, I have to report my whereabouts at all times, and have to provide photographic proof on demand (indicating where I am and who I’m with).
If I’m stuck at work till later than 7PM, I would start receiving messages such as “Where are you?”, “It’s late!”, etc.
If I don’t respond to those messages within 5 minutes, I would receive a barrage of other messages, which get angrier and more accusatory as more time passes.
If they suspect that I’ve seen my girlfriend for even a second, I would get a huge berating upon coming home.
Amongst a bunch of other things.
The Result – A Job that Doesn’t Pay Much
The result of these restrictions on freedom is me having to accept a job offer that doesn’t pay a lot of money, for the following reasons:
1. If I were to accept a high-paying job, I would certainly be expected to work at least 10 to 12 hours a day, and even on the weekends. If this were the case, my parents will definitely accuse me of seeing my girlfriend on the sly, even though I’m actually not. I would be subjected to angry texts, calls, and huge arguments when I get home, the cherry on top of a stressful workload at work. It’s happened before, and it’s not something I want to experience again
2. Conversely, my lower-paying job offers a good deal of paid time-off. On a full-time basis, I have more than 30 days of paid time-off. When planned for and used wisely, this allows me to see my girlfriend at least every other week, during office hours. This ensures that I don’t arouse my parents’ suspicion.
Accepting a dead-end job, in exchange for less stress with my parents and a little more freedom over my days.
This, however, comes at a price. In a good year, my take-home salary from my office job is $42,400. My book, Become a Millionaire and Retire Early on a Modest Salary, which is free to you, gives you many more details on my corporate job salary, as well as benefits (like paid time-off). I’ll be leaving a link for you below in case you’re interested.
I do also side hustle, which makes me anywhere between $10,000 to $15,000 a year. This could be more or less in a given year, depending on my luck and the economic situation.
Working with the figures that we have, I spend about $9,500 a year while living with my parents. My take-home salary from my office job is about $42,400 a year, and my side hustles bring in another (estimated) $12,000 a year. This gives me savings of about $45,000 a year. Here’s a nifty table to summarise everything for you:
|Take-Home Salary from Office Job||$42,400|
|Side Hustle Income||$12,000|
|Total Take-Home Income||$54,400|
|Less: Yearly Expenses||($9,500)|
Considering that I need to build a nest egg of $1 million for my early retirement, which excludes retirement contributions, these figures will put me about 12 years from early retirement, assuming:
- I don’t move out of my parents’ house for the next 12 years (which is crazy and will probably drive me to insanity); and
- A return on investment of 6% per annum, adjusted for inflation.
As at end-April 2020, I had a net worth of slightly north of $180,000 in cash, stocks and bonds (excluding retirement contributions). The numbers in the run up to early retirement therefore look like this:
|Year||Starting Balance||Savings||ROI||Ending Balance|
The format of the table above is from Millennial-Revolution and their awesome reader case studies.
Income – Living Alone
Now, let’s get down to the fun stuff and assume that I’ve moved out (which I have planned to be reality in 2 years’ time).
This would mean that I no longer have to sneak around my parents. I can then score a higher-paying job, and meet my girlfriend after work and during the weekends, like all normal people do.
If I go for a government job, with my degree and existing job experience, I can expect a gross income of around $68,000 (since the Singapore Government regularly pays out good bonuses). This will bring my take-home salary to $55,000. Since government jobs are pretty cushy, I think that I would still have time to side hustle, bringing my total take-home income to about $67,000.
When I first move out, I think I’m going to want to play things safe and live as frugally as I can. This would mean a yearly expenditure of $16,000, giving me savings of $51,000 a year.
Here’s what these figures look like in table form:
|Take-Home Salary from Office Job||$55,000|
|Side Hustle Income||$12,000|
|Total Take-Home Income||$67,000|
With these figures, how many years do I have till early retirement?
|Year||Starting Balance||Savings||ROI||Ending Balance|
10 years to early retirement. That’s 1 whole year of freedom because I’m able to save an additional $5,000 a year.
And this is being conservative. In my current job, there is little to no chance of a promotion and a pay-raise, despite how much I do. In the government sector, on the other hand, I will stand a much higher chance of scoring pay raises and promotions.
With this, this concludes our little exercise in determining whether living with my over-the-top controlling parents speeds up or slows down my journey to early retirement.
In conclusion – living with my parents actually slows down my journey to early retirement a little.
So then, why am I still choosing to stay with them?
Why I Haven’t Moved Out Yet
1. My relationship with my parents has improved a little, compared to the past.
The current situation with my parents is better than it used to be. In the past, it got bad enough that I got locked into my own room and slapped in the face multiple times. All because I wanted to go out on a date with my girlfriend.
At least now I get to enjoy some semblance of autonomy during my weekdays. And occasionally after work and on the weekends if my friends or other family members help cover for me.
2. I’m still hoping my parents might come to acknowledge me being happy with my girlfriend.
This might just be wishful thinking, but I’m hoping that the older I get and the happier I seem, the more my parents might come to accept that this could be a way to live. That queer couples do deserve the right to have happily-ever-afters just like every other heterosexual couple. Even in a place like Singapore, where sex between consenting adult men is still criminalised.
3. My brother still needs me around for the time-being.
My brother suffers from depression and a host of other mental illnesses, the source of which being my parents / our home situation. Whenever he needs me around, I’m usually there, and my presence still provides him with some measure of comfort and support.
My brother plans to emigrate to Japan within the next 2 years, after which we will keep in contact via calls or Skype. As such, my girlfriend and I formulated a similar plan for me to move out within the next 2 years as well. During this time, I’ll slowly have my parents come round to my plan to move out.
Whether they choose to support me or whether they scream blue murder instead, only time will tell.
Browsing an awesome Japanese bookstore with my brother. One of our favourite pastimes.
4. I’m just delaying the inevitable because I’m afraid of the consequences.
My parents have done a number of awful things to me. The truth is, I don’t know how much worse they would react when I tell them I’m moving out for good this time. Maybe they’d force me out of the closet by telling the rest of my (huge) family that I’m queer and thus a worthless child. Then they’d blame me for tearing this family apart. They have threatened to do this to me before, so I wouldn’t put this past them.
I’m also worried that my siblings and my closer cousins would then be forbidden from seeing me, and I lose so many of my closest relationships right there.
Ideally, my parents eventually acknowledge that I’m happy and that I’m not actually doing anything to spite them. This would mean that they wouldn’t pull any crazy moves. But again, only time will tell.
I’m afraid of the consequences, but at the same time I can’t keep staying with my parents.
It not only drives me batty, it also even delays my journey to FIRE.
I’m just hoping that, over the next 2 years, I slowly persuade them about my own happiness and they come to acknowledge who I am.
Even if my own version of happiness isn’t identical to theirs.
Have you ever been in such a situation? How should I go about dealing with this? Or am I just asking for too much?
Thank you for taking the time to read this.