How To Afford Living On Your Own: A Singles Guide to Budgeting
We’ve all been there, especially if you are a 20-something. You’ve lived with roommates long enough, and you now want to experience living on your own. Or, you’ve just broken up with your significant other and you don’t know what your next steps will be. In a tough job market with sticky wages, how can you afford to rent a place on your own? How you achieve this boils down to your planning and the action of working your plan.
Learn Your Budget
You need to know how much money you are bringing in, and how much money is going out. A lot of people think they have a handle on their money, but when they go to check their bank account, there is nothing in there.
A simple way to start is to get on the computer, whether your own or one at the library, follow these steps to get the ball rolling:
- Create a Gmail account and login to Google Docs.
- Open up Google Sheets and create a file called, ‘Budget.’
- Log into your bank account and import your transactions into Google Sheets. Here is a video on the process.
- Sort your transactions.
- Your first part of the budget will be your income statement. You will want to start making ways to build multiple streams of income.
- The second part of your budget will be your expenses. You want to list your fixed expenses first. Those are your rent, utilities, car and student loan payments.
- The third part of your budget will be your disposable income. This is the money you have left over for food, gas, and entertainment. Most people who are working to get ahead save 10% of their income and put it in an interest earning account. You will want to do your best to save as much as you can, especially at a young age.
- Compare your income versus your expenses. This is called a cash flow statement. If you are in the red, meaning your expenses are greater than your income, then you need to create a plan of action to increase your income and decrease your expenses.
Photo Via: Negative Space
Cut Your Expenses
You may have necessary items you need to pay for monthly, but there are a lot of items you can do without. It may be as simple as canceling your Netflix subscription or lowering your data plan on your phone. You might also want to cut the cord on your cable bill. If you are living with roommates, find a fair way to opt out. Ask your landlord if you can do extra work for free around the rental space to lower your rent. You can also ask for lower rent if you sign a longer lease.
Plan meetings with your friends once a week, versus multiple times a week and on the weekend. You will cut down your ‘eating out and drinking’ expenses. This will give you a little extra money to save while rewarding yourself once a week by allowing yourself to go out. To keep your food expenses low, eat before you go out, order smaller plates, and even stick to one drink – you can pace yourself by drinking slowly, so you will always have a drink in hand. Enjoy going out in moderation by allowing yourself one special night a week. It is necessary to have money in the bank for survival. Saving is a huge key.
One way you can work to cut your expenses is to negotiate lower prices and interest rates. If you have a student loan, shop around and see where you can find the best interest rates. Ask your current provider if they are willing to compete for your business. If you have an internet bill, ask for a smaller rate. See if you can cut your data back for a lower monthly cost.
In some states, you can sign up for ‘Non-Peak Hours’. Through Xcel Energy, there is a sign up to do your laundry, dishes, and showering between 9 pm and 9 am which are the ‘Non-Peak Hours’. Your kwh usage is literally cut in half. This includes lighting and internet usage during the day. Your energy bill can be cut in half, and this will put more money in your pocket.
Depending on your bank, you can set up automatic transfers to save your money for every deposit. Generally, you want to save 10% of everything you own. This comes from ancient scripts.
If you have student loans, you most likely can consolidate and shop for a lower interest rate. Companies like SoFi and DRB are helping students refinance their loans and get a better rate. To pay down your loans faster, take the extra money you squeeze out of your budget, and put it towards the principal each month.
All steps can help you get out on your own, and to afford a place of your own. It may seem hard to do right now, especially when you are a 20-something with low cash flow, but if you work hard at building additional income, paying down debt, and saving money, but you will be in a much better financial position to take care of yourself. stick to the steps above, you may be in a better financial position. Keep yourself financially literate and up to date on where your money is going. For more information on budgeting and getting out of debt,m check out Dave Ramsey.
The principal is simple: lower your expenses, save money, and work towards making more money to pay down loans. Not only will this help you build up cash reserves for yourself, but it will also allow you to have more money to go towards a single apartment you can rent all by yourself. Being financially independent is possible, plan your work, then work your plan!
|Danielle E. Brockman|