Making the most out of multigenerational households

Current economic conditions have changed the way Americans think about housing. High unemployment, foreclosures, rising living costs and increasing rental rates have make it difficult for many consumers of all ages and family sizes to make ends meet. In response, many families are doubling up and creating multigenerational households to save money on housing costs.

Census Bureau data reveals 4.4 million households had at least three generations living together in 2010, up from 3.8 million in 2008. Separate data from the Pew Research Center also reveals that multigenerational households are expected to grow in the next few years. While living in a small home with a large family can be cramped, a recent CNN Money report highlighted the financial benefits of this living scenario, and demonstrated how it may help some adults get a better handle in their debt.

The most immediate benefit to this type of arrangement is additional income around the house. Even part-time workers can help provide money toward rent or a mortgage, groceries and utilities. Whether consumers own the home that is housing other family members or living with relatives who own property, this living situation can free up more income to pay off credit card debt, save money or get ahead on other obligations, CNN Money explains. In addition, families with children get the added benefit of more help with their children, which can be especially helpful if parents are unemployed and out hunting for a job.

"We not only save money by having a joined household, but we save on stress, time and other resources by having in-home day care," Alicia Moura, who lives with her husband, children and in-laws, told CNN Money.

There may come a day when families want a home of their own or a recent graduate gets a job and has the money for an apartment. But in the meantime, it's important to use the situation as a way to get back in financial shape and seek out financial counseling to utilize money management tools and resources to accomplish this goal. Many credit counseling services also provide housing counseling, which can be helpful for families who are only living with relatives as a stepping stone to purchasing a new home.