It's no longer a bizarre stereotype; the unmarried man living in his parent's basement. It's one of today's realities.

It used to be that a guy graduated from high school, worked during the summer to earn money, lived with a roommate in college until he married, and then the happy couple lived in the cheapest place available until they had saved enough money for a down payment on a home.

However, fewer and fewer teens are finishing high school. When they do they gravitate toward community colleges and next-city-over universities. Those fresh out of high school may already be enrolled in college classes before they graduate, or have a trade school picked out - the one across from the mall.

Living at home for today's young adult children; once a social "no" is becoming a "Yeah, OK." They are not moving back when things get tough. They aren't leaving to begin with.

To today's teens contemplating a move: a few signs that it's time to go

You have a stable job, and you don't pay anything to cover room and board.

You spend your money on upgrades to your entertainment system.

Your mother folds your underwear.

You think you should. After all, you're close to, if not officially an adult now. Sometimes you just know when it's right.

If moving out looks good

Prepare, research, and look things up

Compare. Don't sign anything until you have read it thoroughly and talked it over with someone you trust. Acting rashly means you are making a mess that will have to be cleaned up later.

Um... can you cook?

You might want to consider how you are going to survive. You see how it behooves you to prepare? Ask your mom for a few easy recipes. Better yet, help her in the kitchen and learn by doing.

Speaking of doing, do you know what thelaundry basket is for? Whites and darks and hot and cold and stains? Good, because you are going to need it.

It's always best to have stored in a savings account three months of living expenses in case of the unexpected - like losing a job.

Be ready to live below your current standard

Your family has a nice TV and granite countertops, you say? Lovely LED state of the art (or as close to it as you can get at House and Garden Depot) illuminates warm carpeting on a real wood floor? Don't even think about it.

You aren't going to be able to afford living to your current standard. You may not really have them yet; you have been living under mom and dad's standards of living. Yours has yet to be decided.

It's a wonderful dream to rent a beautiful condo with a pool and the latest furniture right out of "Beautiful and Rich" magazine. Chances are that you are not going to be able to afford this kind of living without maxing out the new credit cards in your wallet given to you by companies that want you to pay outrageous interest.

Sacrifice is an ugly word, but consider the word for a moment. It means giving something up for something better in return. Settling for less now and having nice things in the future.

Make and keep a budget

Being financially disciplined is something that you may have learned from your parents. But not all is lost if you haven't learned to keep a budget. Hop on the Internet and run over some basics. Make a plan, keep records and receipts and write it down. If it doesn't work on paper, it is not going to work.

You will have expenses: Rent, electric, gas and water, cable, Internet and the can't do-without-cell-phone. And we haven't yet mentioned a car, insurance and gas.

Clothes shopping becomes a whole new experience. Take care of what you have now because chances are that's it for a year or two. And comfortable shoes will serve you better than those that aren't.

A roommate

that can help you with bills and splitting the apartment expenses is appealing. What a good thing! Unless it isn't. Have written contracts and agreements about when the bills are paid and what will happen when one of you doesn't live up to the agreement.

Moving out can be a real challenge. Get some help from your family if you can. Your mother might have an old set of dinnerware in the closet, and dad may be sitting on a set of tools he would be willing to part with.

Don't assume the folks are happy to give you their stuff. Ask, and be grateful for what they can do. In fact keep them on speed dial. You'd be surprised the ways they can help you get yourself established in a new place.

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