As foreclosures increase, so do the number of extended families who are sharing the same house to save their homes and their cash.

Large extended families living together in the same house is nothing new. In many countries, this is the norm. In some African nations, when a young woman marries, she moves into the home of her husband's family. Many Italian families all share the same roof, as do many Asian and Hispanic families. In these cultures, family unity is extremely important and grown children moving out of the house as soon as they marry or hit the age of 18 is not as widespread as it is here in the U.S.

Now this practice is spreading in the U.S. as the cost of rental housing increases and older Americans struggle with rising mortgages. Saving on housing costs isn't the only benefit. Sharing a house also saves families on the cost of:

Food: It's cheaper per-person to stock up on food and serve one-dish meals than it is to cook individual portions for one or two people.

Utilities: With family members sharing one house, they are only paying one utility bill.

Child care: Why send the kids to a day care if you have family members available willing to watch each others children?

Transportation: Now that the family all lives together, they save on the cost of traveling to visit each other. Also, they have more opportunities to carpool.

Of course, shacking up with your whole family and their spouses and children isn't for everyone. Not all family members get along, whether they are related or not. Also, zoning laws in some communities may limit the number of people who live together, and rental properties set limits on the number of people who can share a home or apartment, so be sure to check those leases.

The Today Show also spotlighted the trend of extended families living together:

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