There comes a point in everyone’s life when sharing a bathroom, dividing the fridge, or dealing with parental rules no longer seems as appealing as it once did. Although you may have loved your time at home with your family, off in the dorms with friendly strangers, or splitting the rent with a housemate (or three)—the time has come for you to “fly the coop,” as they say, and find a place for you to live on your own.
Unfortunately, the price of solitude doesn’t always come cheap, but lucky for you we have five tips to help make this move more affordable.
Live within your means
Chances are you aren’t quite ready for a penthouse or a home on a few acres; but don’t worry, that time will come. For now, you’ll want to assess your financial situation, accounting for income and current monthly bills to see what monthly payment range you would be most comfortable paying. Generally, your housing costs shouldn’t exceed 30 percent of your take-home income.
As you begin your search, be sure to look for move-in specials and ask your friends and family if they know of any great spaces opening up – you may be able to snag a great deal and home before it hits the market!
PRO TIP: Think small. Studios and one-bedroom apartments or condos can make for a great living space! Plus with some great design ideas and tricks for maximizing your space, it won’t feel so small.
PRO TIP 2: If you’re renting and your landlord seems amenable, you might be able to negotiate a lower rent in return for shoveling, mowing the lawn, or something else that would benefit both of you or the property.
Widen you search
Looking for a downtown home but don’t want to pay the sky-high prices? Expand your search to surrounding towns or neighborhoods. You might surprise yourself by finding a better fit in an unthought-of location.
PRO TIP: Try out some of the best apartment hunting apps and sites such as Zillow, Apartments.com, rent.com, or even Facebook Marketplace to scale out your search and set parameters to help you find your perfect space.
Cut back on utilities
Going from split utilities or no utility payment at all can be a rough transition as you take on the cost of setting up your new home. However, this change puts you in charge of how you use these everyday services—meaning you can cut down on usage, find new plans, and get thrifty to save a few bucks! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Lower lighting costs by flipping off the light switch and using your windows as much as possible is a simple, yet efficient way to save on electricity. You can also shop around for energy-efficient lighting that may cost a little more right out of the gate but can save you more money down the road.
- Install smart power strips so you can turn off several devices at the same time as you turn off the main device. Cutting power to things when they aren’t in use prevents you from wasting energy and will lower your monthly electrical bill.
- Cancel the cable and switch to streaming services such as Hulu or Netflix to make your at-home entertainment much more cost-efficient. Plus, each platform is loaded with bingeworthy shows.
Seek cheap thrills
COVID-19 has limited many of the go-to entertainment options, leaving you with little to no choice but to make your own fun. On the bright side, getting creative and finding cheap forms of entertainment can have less of an impact on your wallet. Try one of the options below to spice up your weekend plans.
- BYO wine tasting night and have a few of your close friends bring their favorite drink to share for an at-home wine and cheese night! You can even make it a wine and paint night and explore your artistic side.
- Pack a picnic and visit your favorite park, landmark, or view for a relaxing afternoon getaway
- Host a book club with a few friends (it can be an in-person or virtual gathering) to discuss your recent favorite reads.
Lower your transportation costs
Let’s face it, cars can be costly. From gas fill-ups, insurance, parking meters, and monthly payments—the price of transportation can quickly add up. Figuring out ways to lower these expenses can give you an extra cushion of spending to prioritize other expenses coming your way during this new move. Here are a few easy ways to save on transportation:
- Use apps like GasBuddy to find the cheapest gas in your area.
- Shop around for car insurance. Even if you think you have a pretty sweet deal on insurance, there is always room for improvement. Research various providers to see if there is a plan better suited and priced for you. Since you’re setting up housekeeping, make sure to ask about bundling your auto and renters or homeowner’s insurance. You might be able to get even better rates.
- Bike, walk, or ride! When possible, use other forms of free Not only will you be saving money, but you can also check off your daily workout!
As you can see, there are many ways you can cut back, save a penny or two, and still have enough wiggle room in your budget to fully enjoy the newfound freedom of living on your own! If you are wanting additional tips or to find out more ways you can save through your financial institution – contact a financial advisor at a credit union branch nearest you.