Moving Out: A Manual for Living within Your Means

By Shelby Haffey  •  January 15, 2014

We want independence and we want it now! We are at or quickly approaching the age where we need to take that giant step out from under our parents’ wing and spread our own. I’m talking about moving out. But slow down eager birdies, there is some serious planning that needs to go down.  You do not want to end up in over your head and ultimately back under your parents’ roof.  I have compiled a few tips to help you start to survive the expenses of living on your own and prepare for those large initial costs. So you think it’s time to leave the nest, but are you sure you’re ready? Like really ready? Here's a manual for moving out to avoid any serious financial mistakes:


Save, Save, Save

The first thing you need to do is prepare and save.  I cannot stress this part enough. This should be anyone’s initial step to moving out. Not only is it good to have a nice cushion of savings when you move, but it is also great when it comes to all those unexpected expenses you will undoubtedly encounter. It is good to always be saving in general, but you do not want to just save for the initial move out and then have nothing left.

This can be done very simply. If you have a full-time job and you are still living with your parents, save 10 to 15 percent of each paycheck you receive in a month. Make a budget for your entertainment and only give yourself a certain amount of money for the month to spend on movies, dining out, concerts, etc. This will also be a big help when you actually do move out and have to budget. After you save that initial 30 percent of your monthly income and you have paid all your other bills for the month (if you have any), you may have room to put a little more away if you please. You can never over save while still living with your parents. Grow that savings account.


Find a Place you Can Afford

You have been saving for a while, now it is time to look for a place to live. Whether you are moving into an apartment with friends, an apartment alone, renting a room, or purchasing a home, you must always make sure that you find a place you can afford. A good rule of thumb is to spend no more than 30 percent of your take home income. Aren’t you glad you have already been saving 30 percent?



This 30 percent should ideally include utilities as well. Spending 30 percent of your income will leave you a nice cushion to handle other monthly bills, expenses, and allow you to keep up that savings account. Remember that you will have to fork over the first and last month’s rent as well as a security deposit leaving you, or you and your roommates, with a hefty move-in cost. Saving for this initial move in cost is key. You must also take into account where you are planning on living. Big cities tend to have high rent so you might need to spend a little more than 30 percent. This is also where budgeting comes in handy.


Be Resourceful

My friend and her boyfriend just bought a house. (Boy, does that make me feel behind in life.)  While checking out her new home she told me that she never realized how many essential things you need to have when you move out and how those things really start to add up cost-wise. I could relate because I went through similar discoveries when I moved out. You never really know when some tape, a screwdriver, or something else you never thought of would come in handy.



First off, you do not need brand new things when it comes to furnishing your place. Just get it out of your head. Take what you can with you from home: beds, old couches, dressers, lamps, nightstands, desks, TV etc. Ask your family or friends if they have any unused or unwanted furniture, electronics, or appliances. If you and your roommates do this you could save so much money and acquire a large amount of house ware needs. Accumulate the brand new fancy stuff over time. It is a major cost you do not need to take on when you are first moving out.


All the Extras

There are sure to be some extra things that cannot be provided by friends and family. Kitchen utensils, pots and pans, towels, shower curtains, tools, little things around the house. Discount stores and thrift shops are a great place to buy accents and finishing touches for your new place. My first roommate and I went to Good Will and bought vases, pictures, a dining room table, a George foreman grill, and many other things for about $30 total.



If thrift shops are not your thing then make sure to find every possible coupon, discount, sale, or deal from your favorite retailers. Also be aware that there will always be little odds and ends that will come up that you need to buy for your new place. But having that nice savings will prepare you for those unexpected costs.



Once all the initial move in costs are spent, the place furnished, and all the necessities acquired the only thing left to do is to keep yourself on a budget.  Since you have been saving and budgeting to move into this new place, it should be fairly simple. Know the amount of your bills each month, set an amount for fun, and always, always find the best deals around to save more and spend less.

The good thing about initially moving out is that you will have most of the necessities you need if you move to another place. You will also be aware of the cost of moving, what you can afford, and how to live and budget on your own. The first move is always the most difficult, but it is the best learning experience. Now that you know what you are in for, go on and spread those little wings.  Good luck leaving the nest; I believe in you!

Shelby Haffey Shelby Haffey Shelby Haffey is always looking for ways to save, for herself and others. When she is not seeking out the latest deal or writing up a storm she is relaxing with a book, taking her dog to the beach, spending time with family, or exploring the city.

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