Living on your own for the first time can be an exciting time in your life. Whether you’re moving into your own apartment (with or without roommates) or settling into a college dorm room, this might be your first real taste of adulthood.
With new freedom comes fresh responsibilities. From everyday tasks to the financial affairs that underpin our lives, there can be a lot to learn. Here are some helpful tips for living on your own.
1. Build a sound budget
If you’re looking for guidance on living independently, the most important principle is to spend your money wisely. Start by creating a budget to help you stay on track financially — a habit that can serve you well throughout life. Add up your regular, fixed expenses such as rent, utilities and car insurance, and subtract the total from your monthly income.
The money you have left is for expenses that are more flexible, such as food, clothing and transportation. It may take some trial and error at first, but after a few shopping trips you’ll learn what you can afford and how much you want to spend in each category.
By staying on budget and saving some money each month, you’ll have extra funds for special occasions, such as travel or concert tickets. There are also several online tools you can take advantage of that help you track your expenses, such as a monthly budget calculator.
2. Pay bills promptly
Another important lesson is staying on top of your financial obligations. Paying bills on time, including rent and credit cards, will save you from paying costly late fees and help build a good credit score. Good credit can help you secure a loan at more favorable terms if you decide to purchase a car or home or open a small business.
Create a system for paying bills that works best for you, such as with a paper or online calendar. By keeping a running balance of your checking account after each payment, you’ll get a more accurate view of how much money is in your account as well as insight into your spending. You can also set up online bill reminders via text or email that alert you when a payment deadline is approaching.
3. Save each month
Try to save some money each month, no matter how small the sum. Getting into the habit of saving will build a foundation for financial stability. It’s important to build up a rainy-day fund that ideally covers up to six months of living expenses. Deposit money in a savings account each month, or have a percentage automatically sent from your paycheck into savings.
4. Get comfortable being alone
Find something to fill the quiet time, because there’s a chance you’ll have a lot of it. This is a great time to work on healthy habits and nurture your interests. Activities you put your effort into now have the potential to turn into lifelong hobbies.
If you budget well, you can make investments in your hobbies that will leave you grateful for years to come.
5. Accept responsibility—and help
When you’re on your own, you have to rely on yourself, but that doesn’t mean you’re completely alone. Set up safety nets for yourself, like getting to know your neighbors. An observant neighbor is a great asset in safeguarding your wellbeing.
So is proper insurance. If you can’t afford to replace everything you own, share the burden with us. A Nationwide agent will be happy to help find the best coverage for you. Or, use that newfound independence and do some research yourself.