As the nice and concise title suggests these are tips that may help you without your parent’s help. I’ve lived on my own for a short while now and have hit many rough patches, and because of that I’ve learned a lot and want to share my knowledge.
If you’re the type of person who doesn’t have time for TV since they’re either working or going to school, then might I recommend you not getting cable and just stick with internet. With great services like Hulu and Netflix, they can do a great job of replacing that $50+ charge a month that is Cable. Now if you’re a sports fan you’re kind of out of luck, but if sports isn’t appealing then only spending about $16 a month might be better for you. Don’t get talked into bundling, since that’s crap too. It always ends up not being as good of a deal as they would like you to think. The annoying thing with Netflix is that since movie studios have been cutting down on their support for the company, they’ve been rather lacking in selection and it seems that most of the things I wanted were only on DVD, which to get those you need to pay another $7.99/month, just keep that in mind.
Unless you really need a land line, buy it but until then your cell phone should more than be enough.
If you’re the type of person who leaves lights on, then this can become a really expensive habit if you’re using incandescent bulbs. That’s because the electrical company bills you for wattage hour, or how many watts you expel within a month period. My solution is investing in CFLs, they’re slightly more expensive but they usually last up to 5-6 years under normal use which is better than the 3 years you’d average with traditional bulbs. The only downside to CFLs are that they aren’t as bright as they claim to be, but on the plus side the brightest bulb is still only 23W which is still about 2.5x less than your average 60W. A good rule of thumb for trying to figure out how bright a CFL actually is, is that they are about 20% less bright than they claim to be. Take the 23W, which is said to be as bright as a 100W bulb when in reality it is closer to their 75W incandescent counterpart. Another annoying thing you have to consider is that CFLs are gas based, so as it gets colder they get weaker. This can become a problem with a drafty home.
If you have to pay for your own gas, since it’s not part of your condo/apartment’s monthly fees then remember to turn off your heater if you’re going to be gone for a long time or at the least turn it down to around 70 degrees (Fahrenheit). I keep mine at that temperature, and just layer it up when it gets cold. You should also invest in some vinyl for the winter to cover your windows to prevent heat escaping and cold entering, especially if your place is drafty.
Now for summer you might want to invest in window fans, they’re expensive but they could save you on utilities. They have fans out there that have two fans in them, one that blows in and the other that blows out. The purpose of the two fans is to suck out the hot air in a room and blow in the cooler air from outside, they usually have a switch to turn each on individually. Turn the fan on that blows out of your place when it gets really hot so as to suck out the heat from inside the room. You’d be surprised how much cooler this can make a room, more so than just cranking up the AC. It’s also more feasible even though the dual window fans are a little pricey coming in about $40 dollars, but given how long they last, they’ll quickly make up for the cost.
There is really one simple rule, get used to eating in. If you don’t know how to cook, I recommend learning the basics. A box of pasta, meat and some sauce can go a long way. $100 dollars in groceries can last you a month easily, especially if you’re living by yourself. Fast food gets expensive fast, especially when you do it 3+ times a week at about $7 to $8 dollars a day. Also, relying on your mother to feed you may not be financially sound, since you have to take gas wasted into consideration. I usually choose to go to Wal-Mart for my food, their cheap and they have the basics; I’ve been told Super Targets are great too, if your town doesn’t have a Wal-Mart then they might have a Super Target. The only problem with both options is they lack the variety in certain foods such as produce, deli meats, and meats in general. Keep that in mind, if you think the food you’re looking for is a little too specific then you might have to go to a grocery store.
One thing you might want to do is get the weekly sales flyers for your local area and compare prices, remember Wal-Mart has “Price Matching” so you don’t have to go to every store just to save on deals, since the money you’d be saving would get lost in the gas spent driving to those places. The best way (usually) to procure these flyers are through your Sunday paper.
Watch your accounts daily at most, just to make sure there aren’t any suspicious charges made to it. I have been screwed over many times since I let double payments go through without my knowledge, which has proven time and time again to be a pricey mistake, especially if it causes your account to be negative in balance. Be careful with auto-pay bills, sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. They tend to be the biggest culprit of double billing. Currently I had to deal with a Comcast issue that involved in double billing since their online auto-pay system decided to finally work at a very inconvenient time for me and caused me to overdraft my account since I paid them manually.
Hope these tips helped. Remember to save up money where you can and don’t impulse buy, it has a nasty way of really getting you into trouble.
Heather Green is a freelance writer for several regional magazines in North Carolina as well as a resident blogger for onlinenursingdegrees dot org. Her writing experience includes fashion, business, health, technology and a wide range of other topics. Heather has just completed research on online physical therapy assistant programs.