Monday, January 28, 2008

Are You Ready to Move Out of Your Parents' House?

They just don't get you anymore. Your parents don't understand your friends, don't approve of your choices, hate the way you dress, wish you'd go to school, join the military, get a real job. Maybe it's all of those, maybe it's none of those. But for reasons of your own, you want to move out, and you want to do it now.

Are you ready? Yes, I see that you've already packed up your stuff and are taking it out to your car's trunk, but are you really ready?

Understand your budget. Whether you work for minimum wage at McDonald's or have just graduated from med school as a doctor, you are on a budget whether you like it or not. Balancing your bills against your paycheck and figuring out how much is left over is a good place to start. Consider your car payment, auto insurance, student loans if you have them, any credit cards you may have, and that cell phone that until now your parents have been providing for you, and you'll have a small idea of how much a month you can spend on rent.

But before you go rent a place that's out of your budget, you need to ask a few questions of your potential landlord. Are utilities included in the rent? If so, which ones? If not, what do utilities run on average? If the landlord has no idea, consider running away from the location, but if you just love it, then ask for the names of the water, electric and gas companies that the place usually does business with, and call them and ask them for a rough estimate.

For the entertainment portion of your budget, how much do you have to spend on internet or Netflix or purchasing X-Box games? It's very good to know the answer to this question before ordering DSL internet and a premium subscription to cable.

Not to be forgotten is fuel for your vehicle, and a plan for oil changes and tire rotations and even tire replacement. Such maintenance is fairly predictable, and can be easily included into a budget so that you don't find yourself unable to take care of your transportation.

Can you even afford a place on your own? If not, do you have friends that you plan on sharing a place and therefore rent with? Can you trust them? What I mean is, are they the types of roommates that will pony up their portion of the bills religiously, or will you get stuck working overtime to make sure you all don't get evicted? If they are the latter and not the former, let them rent the apartment in their name and not yours.

If you are moving in with anyone else - be it a significant other or a best friend - know before hand who's name the utilities are going in. It's your social security number that will be tied to this stuff... protect your credit. Friendships have been lost over much less.

Don't forget that you'll be buying your own food and clothes now. How much is left in your budget so far? Remember to make a place for groceries and household goods as well as eating out. Sooner or later you will get sick of Ramen noodles and want a nice juicy quarter pounder. Likewise, sooner or later you'll just want to go home and make a pb&j. If you're getting a roomie, how will foodstuffs be accounted for? It sucks when your roommate drinks all your soda and eats all your Pop-Tarts and doesn't replace them, leaving you to go fork out the money twice for the same food.

And have you considered that tattoo you want to get? Good tattoo artists aren't cheap. Do you have a savings plan for this and that trip to Cancun you want to take on your time off next year? Planning for the future is an important part of moving out. Getting married, having kids, needing a bigger place and a mini-van... it's always good to consider that you will not be where you are right now in another five or ten years.

And even if you are in the same place, chances are your beer budget will be bigger.

The bottom line is that being fully autonomous demands that you pay attention to the details that your parents took care of up till now, like medical insurance and renters' insurance and car repairs. Be prepared by knowing exactly what you have and exactly what you can spend. Live by a budget and live within your means. If all your i's are dotted and all your t's crossed, then spread your wings and fly, little bird. There's a whole new world waiting for you.

1 comment:

Little Bald Bastard said...

I love that you included "Tattoo Planning" as a budget item.

Also, I think it's worth pointing out that living with anyone is a trying experience. If your pal is great at parties, trying to sleep through his drunken carousing when you have to get up early for work can put a strain on even the BFF-iest of friendships. Be realistic about whose habits you can stand, and be prepared for your relationship with your new roomie to change in unexpected, and maybe permanent, ways.

Oh crap. We're giving advice to the kids now, aren't we? While we're at it, tell 'em to get off my lawn.