How to afford living on your own for the first time.

Congratulations! You are moving out on your own for the first time. It’s a big step, and may seem a little scary, but if you take things in small steps, you will be set up for success in no time.

Getting your own place may mean renting an apartment or a room in someone’s house. Maybe it’s even going away to college or school.

Here’s where to start: Create a budget

The place to start when making moving plans is with your budget. This word will be in your vocabulary from now on. A budget is a plan for spending of money to pay bills and afford things you want.

In preparing for your own place, gather your income information – how much do you make after taxes each month, when do you get paid, and if you have any other form of income. Then, make a list of all monthly expenses and the things you may need to buy.

Check out some budgeting apps or look online for some tips to break down a budget. If you don’t have access, you can jot financial notes down on a piece of paper.

Make note of all the things you will need to pay each month like rent, electricity, gas, cable, internet, cellphone, water, trash, sewer, parking, transportation costs (car fuel, bus passes, etc.), groceries, cleaning supplies, clothing, medical costs, insurance, and entertainment. If you have credit cards or any other bills, write them down, too.

Next, write how much each item costs, and when you must pay them each month. The due dates are important because being late could lead to fees. Add up all the amounts to get a monthly debt total.

Now, add up how much you get paid after taxes and deductions. This is your total income.

Subtract the total debt from your total income and you will have the amount of money you’ll have leftover each month to put into savings.

Making Adjustments

Let’s say you do this and there is very little left. Don’t be discouraged. The next step to affording to live on your own is figuring out how to reduce expenses and/or how to increase income.

If you like eating fast food because it’s convenient, you may want to consider buying groceries and cooking for yourself. There are a lot of fun videos on the internet that will show you how to eat on a budget. When you buy your groceries, shop at places known for lower prices like Walmart, Aldi or LIDL. Don’t be ashamed to clip coupons or download shopper reward apps at the local grocery stores. Ask your friends or roommates if they’d like to go in on groceries with you if you do the cooking.

The dollar store will be your best friend for household supplies like cleaning supplies, toilet paper, etc. Thrift stores are a goldmine for dishes, silverware, furniture and other kitchenware.

Apps like Craigslist and NextDoor often advertise free items that people give away when they move. There are even grocery websites like that will send you a box of groceries just for the cost of shipping.

Many utility companies (Dominion Energy’s program) will set you up on an interest-free budget plan where you pay the same thing every month.  Even phone carriers offer low-budget plans if you can find places to use WIFI instead of using data.

Now you’ve reigned in your expenses, look at your income and see if you can find a way to make more. Maybe there’s overtime at work? Maybe you can train for another position that will pay more.

Living on your own for the first time is exciting. Having a budget will lead to years of success.

Congratulations on your new place, this is an exciting start!

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