Is Junior leaving for college in September? Look on the bright side: you’re not losing a child—you’re gaining an extra room! So dry your tears, grab some garbage bags and storage boxes and reclaim that extra space for your own purposes.

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How to Put the Extra Bedroom to Use After The Kids Leave

Is Junior leaving for college in September? Look on the bright side: you’re not losing a child—you’re gaining an extra room! So dry your tears, grab some garbage bags and storage boxes and reclaim that extra space for your own purposes.

According to RentersInsurance.net, the first thing you need to do is to empty out the spare room. “This means throwing out any items in there that do not have a home elsewhere…anything else that you will most likely not use again should be donated or thrown away if it is in poor condition.” However, to avoid tossing out something that has real (or even emotional) value, check with your child first. You can always put the collection of rare comic books or action figures into a self-storage unit for safekeeping.

Next, decide exactly what you want to do with that new space. The obvious choice is a guest bedroom that’s available for visitors and for your child’s temporary trips back home. Beyond that, there are dozens of other fun options with your kids going away to college.

How about a home gym? Instead of spending money on monthly dues and gasoline to drive somewhere, invest a few dollars in equipment (Check out yard sales for the best bargains.) and create your own workout space. Rehna, a blogger for Ardor New York Real Estate, says there’s no need to break your budget. “A few free weights, exercise balls, a yoga mat and some resistance bands will do the trick.” Put a TV in there and you can beat the boredom while you work out.

Other recommendations from Rehna include a hobby room or a game room complete with a poker table and a bar. You could even splurge and put in a small refrigerator to keep ice cubes and cold, frosty beverages close at hand.

Want to work on that novel or just work from home? Turn the space into a home office. All you need is a desk, a good chair, a wireless connection and a laptop, and you’re in business. And check with your accountant; your home office may even qualify for a tax deduction.

The folks at Forner – La Voy Builders, Inc., Kansas City custom home remodelers, suggest turning your spare space into a media room. “You’ll have more control over light and sound if you set up your media room in an enclosed room instead of the living room. Put in a big screen TV, a surround sound audio system and some comfortable seats and you’re ready to go.”

Having twinges of guilt about repurposing your child’s bedroom? Think of it as a wise business decision that could save you hundreds of dollars a year, says Jen Smith, the Millionaire Mommy Next Door. According to her blog, the cost of a 12-foot-by-12-foot room could be as much as $350,000 over the course of a 30-year mortgage! That’s a lot to spend on something you’ll seldom use. You can calculate your actual costs based on the typical price of housing per square foot in your area and multiplying it by the size of the room.

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Once you see how much that spare room is really worth, you might even decide to rent it out to help pay for your kid’s college tuition. It can be a great way to earn extra income as long as you know what you’re getting into, says Gary Foreman, a retired financial planner and columnist for CreditCards.com. For example, if you value your privacy, taking in a tenant is probably not for you. You also need to weigh extra expenses like utilities against the estimated extra income.

If you do decide to bring in a renter, spell out the agreement and all house rules in writing, do a background check on your prospective tenant before you agree to anything and put a time limit on the lease to make it easier for you to back out. Don’t overlook Uncle Sam either, Foreman advises. “As far as the Internal Revenue Service is concerned, the rent you receive is taxable income. You will be able to deduct expenses, but there’s a good chance that you’ll owe some taxes.” You should also check with your homeowner’s insurance agent to make sure renting out a room doesn’t impact your policy.

It’s certainly exciting to think about how you’ll use your child’s bedroom, but don’t get too comfortable. You may have to give it back. According to recent U.S. Census figures, 22.6 million adults between the age of 18 and 34 were still living at home with their parents in 2012. That’s up 27 percent from a decade ago. If this becomes a reality for your family, a self-storage unit may help you keep extra belongings during the transition periods. You can browse self-storage locations to find one in a neighborhood near you.

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