Shacking Up With Mom

Selma Jones and her only child, Roger, aren’t crazy about each other, but they share a common desire – obtaining a higher living standard.

Roger’s 35 and makes $60,000 a year working for a landscaping company. Roger owns a large home that’s feeling pretty empty now that his girlfriend Thelma’s left. Roger hates to cook, clean, and do laundry. He spends lots of money eating out and having his place cleaned and his shirts pressed.

Selma’s 65. She rents her place and lives off a) Social Security, b) $200,000 in regular assets, and c) $300,000 in retirement funds. Unlike her son, Selma just loves to cook, clean, and do laundry. What she hates is yard work on which she spends $1,800 each year.

According to ESPlanner, Selma can enjoy a $23,476 living standard each year through the age 100, if she lives that long.

Roger is cash constrained. He can enjoy a $22,959 living standard through age 50 and $24,306 thereafter.

What if Roger and Selma both swallow hard and shack up. Specifically, suppose Selma moves in with Roger. How much will their living standards rise once one takes into account economies in shared living (two can live more cheaply than one)? ESPlanner can calculate the answer in seconds. One simply needs to treat Roger and Selma as partners in setting up their joint-living profile.

The answer is a lot. Their living standard is now $30,453 each. That’s 30 percent higher for Selman and 33 percent higher for Roger. This economic advantage comes from sharing resources and the division of labor.

There's some other advantages from the specialization of their labor. Roger mows the lawn and picks the weeds, while Selma cooks, cleans, and does laundry. Both are secretly happy. And Roger thinks Selma may help him lure Thelma back. Thelma was appalled by his slovenliness and hated his cooking.

Living with your parents is not an easy choice. But it's a sure and safe way to raise your living standard as well as theirs.