Living alone for the first time can be liberating. Not having to worry about your roommates or family invading your privacy is a definite perk. However, budgeting for this lifestyle can be challenging.
There’s no longer someone else to help with the cost of internet, rent, food and other amenities, so living alone for the first time can be a difficult transition.
We got advice from personal finance authors, speakers and entrepreneurs Stefanie O’Connell and Jason Vitug for money-saving solutions and tips on how to cut costs to stay within your budget when you’re no longer living with your parents and don’t have roommates.
Don’t Fear the Cost of Living Alone
Although living alone can be more expensive than sharing accommodations with roommates, you may be able to make living by yourself feasible by creating a budget.
According to money expert and author of “The Broke and Beautiful Life,” Stefanie O’Connell, living alone doesn’t mean you can’t share certain expenses with friends and family.
“Just because you’re single, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the financial benefits of shared expenses,” says O’Connell. As one example, she recommends teaming up with friends to share the cost of wedding gifts.
You can cut your housing costs by trying out alternative living situations, rather than a traditional house. For example, you could find a guesthouse that’s part of someone’s home or a unique efficiency apartment. If you’re self-employed or work from home, you can even combine your living space with your workspace.
Don’t Wait Around for Others
Be proud of your independence. Don’t assume that your only option is to live with others just because you don’t have a large income. In many cases, proper budgeting techniques can help you to make it happen.
“Whether you hope to partner up in the future or not, it’s best practice to use your own income as the sole parameter for funding your life,” states O’Connell.
You can easily start doing this by planning ahead and budgeting for food and transportation costs by yourself.
“Don’t wait around for the perfect partner to figure out how and when you’ll be able to afford it,” O’Connell recommends.
Budgeting for Food Expenses
A great way to cut your food costs is to cook your own food at home, rather than going out to eat. For example, if you make pasta for dinner one night, you’ll likely have leftovers that you can eat for the next few days. Try planning out your day in advance so you’re not constantly spending money on every meal.
“While an additional income stream from a future partner may be likely, it should not be counted on as a contingency for insufficient personal income or savings,” said O’Connell.
Budgeting for Transportation Expenses
Gas, car insurance and repairs all add up over time and can make your transportation budget fairly sizable. However, you can cut down on these costs by carpooling to work or using public transportation.
Or, if you live fairly close to work, you can walk or bike, helping you to sustain a healthy lifestyle, reduce your carbon footprint and save money on gas.
Create an Emergency Fund
Life’s unexpected moments, such as accidents and medical emergencies, happen when you least expect them. So create an emergency fund that you can use for these crises. This is a crucial step, because if an emergency strikes, you don’t want to have to pull money out of your other budgets.
According to O’Connell, “If you’re serious about your dream life, commit to doing what it takes to bring yourself closer to achieving it today.”
By taking the necessary precaution of saving for an emergency fund, you can potentially avoid having to dip into your monthly budget to pay for unexpected expenses.
Decide What You Value Most
In his book “You Only Live Once: The Roadmap to Financial Wellness and a Purposeful Life,” Jason Vitug describes a conversation he had with a college student. Vitug wanted to see what the student valued, which, he discovered, included living alone.
“To figure out what you value, begin by describing your ideal lifestyle. Start with the basics such as shelter, food, health and clothing,” says Vitug. “Why do you value this item? Why do you need it? Why is the desire to own or have this item so strong? Why will you choose this over something else?”
By asking yourself these questions, Vitug believes you will get a better understanding of your values and improve your financial decision-making. This ultimately will ensure that you’re preparing your budget for living alone.
Make Rational Spending Decisions
Vitug explains in “You Only Live Once” that he’s used the YOLO mindset as an excuse to make irrational financial decisions. However, he has now learned the true value of YOLO – having a stress-free lifestyle, which means making rational decisions.
“The YOLO mindset is ideal when applied to the understanding that today is the best day to start saving, investing and spending mindfully in order to live a purposeful life,” said Vitug.
For example, if living alone is your goal, consider saving money by getting rid of your costly cable service and using other streaming services, such as Netflix, instead. And turn off the air conditioning when you’re gone for the day – it’ll be humid when you first come home, but the money you’ll save will be worth it!
“If we only live once, let’s make decisions that support a healthy and financially stress-free lifestyle,” Vitug encourages.
So don’t let your income keep you from looking into the possibility of living alone! Your preferred lifestyle isn’t necessarily too expensive. And if what you can afford now isn’t your dream home – take a deep breath and remember that it’s not permanent.
Take O’Connell’s and Vitug’s advice and learn the importance of saving and budgeting to prepare for all of life’s expenses. Do you have any tips on how to budget so that you can afford to live alone? Share in the comments below!
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