Can’t Afford to Live on My Own? [Do These 35 Tips]

So, you’ve decided it’s time to live on your own and gain independence. Deciding is a great first step, but what do you do to make this happen?

And what if you’d like to, but are thinking, “I can’t afford to live on my own”? Try these 35 tips to help.

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How much do you truly need to live on your own?

Before you can move out, you need to know how much money you’ll need to live on. Since it will be just you, you need to have enough money to pay for everything without anyone’s help. 

Your moving out “number” depends on your individual situation. Calculate the cost of living, debt that you’re paying off, and how much money you need to feel comfortable. 

Before moving, check out prices for apartments and homes to see what you can afford. Then, make a budget that includes all the costs you’ll be paying, including rent, utilities, groceries, internet, your phone, insurance, and transportation.

If you can cover all of these costs comfortably and have some money left, then you may be ready to live on your own.

How do people afford to live alone, without roommates?

Depending on location and how much money you make, living alone can be extremely costly, and many choose to have roommates instead. But here are some tips for affording this if you truly want to be independent.

1. Be resolved

Consider all of your options first, and if you decide that living on your own is right for you, stick by your decision. Be resolved to do what you need to do to be able to afford it.

This may mean working more hours or taking on side jobs, but go for it, and you won’t regret it.

2. Seek out wise counsel

Talk to wise people that you trust to give you good information and help you with your decision. Tell the supportive people in your life about your goals, and ask for their ideas.

This doesn’t mean you have to take everyone’s suggestion but getting different perspectives from people who are good with money is a great start.

3. Set goals

When you decide to move out, you don’t have to do so immediately. You can set goals to meet beforehand, such as saving up a certain amount of money or finding the right apartment.

Decide on a few goals and work towards those with all of your time and energy.

4. Get accountability

If you decide to do this, get a trusted friend to hold you accountable. Get them to ask you periodically if you’re meeting your goals and getting ready for your move.

5. Get a job

This is pretty obvious; if you want to live on your own, you need an income. Secure an income that will allow you to live on your own, or be willing to take on multiple jobs.

And you’ll probably need a job to save up money if you don’t have anything in savings yet. 

Related: High-Income Skills You Can Teach Yourself Without College

6. Find a job with living quarters included

You may be able to live on your own if you find a job that includes a place to stay. For example, sometimes live-in housekeepers or nannies can find jobs that also include a room.

Professional house sitters or jobs in remote locations also may include housing but may also require you to move frequently. Check out job listings in the location you want to live in to see what’s included. 

7. Set a budget

Figure out what your expenses will cost each month and then set a budget. Your budget will be your guide to make sure you can cover expenses and save money.

Anything that isn’t going towards bills can be saved for your move.

8. Cut your expenses

Cutting expenses will help you save up money, and it will mean you have less to pay for later. Try cutting unnecessary purchases from your regular budget for a while.

Related: Most Common Needs vs Wants

9. Automate your savings into the highest yield account you can 

Automating your savings will help you to save enough money to move out on your own easily. And getting the highest yield account possible will allow interest to grow more, earning you more money.

10. Make easy money

Discover ways to make extra cash that don’t take a lot of time. Think cash back apps, freelance work, and other jobs to help you earn.

Related: Ultimate Guide to Making Money Online

11. Manage your money

Don’t let your money boss you around! Be sure to manage your money and keep it organized when you’re getting ready for a move.

That way you’ll keep track of savings and what you’ve paid for.

12. Work a side hustle

Consider taking on a second job like delivery driving, dog walking, or blogging to earn extra. That way, you diversify your income and make sure you can afford to live on your own.

Here are some side hustle ideas you can do anywhere:

13. Pay off your debt

If you’re making payments for debt, pay it off before striking out on your own. Your cost of living will be lower and you will feel better.

14. Stop eating out

This is something you can cut from your budget when working to move out on your own. After all, if it’s a choice between restaurants and living on your own, what will you choose?

Give up eating out for now, and use the money for savings. This was the biggest money leak for me. After tallying up my expenses, I was spending hundreds of dollars every month on takeaway.

15. Cut your grocery budget

Try to make simple meals that only require a few ingredients. Look for deals and use coupons to cut your grocery budget by at least a little bit. Then save the difference.

Here are my best grocery savings tips:

16. Don’t eat meat

Meat is more expensive than some other items. If you choose to plan meals that are vegetarian, you can save some money on your grocery bill. Think pasta, beans, sandwiches, and other foods that don’t need meat to be delicious.

17. Meal plan

Don’t just eat whatever, because not having a plan can cost you grocery money and cash spent eating out. Plan your meals for each day, so you spend less on convenience fees.

18. Sell your car

This is extreme, but if you truly want to live on your own, sell something big that will get you some savings, like your car. Then use public transportation instead, which is cheaper by far.

19. Cut out all subscriptions

Subscriptions are almost always optional things that you can live without. Get rid of subscriptions to magazines and tv for the time being.

20. Cut down on gift buying

Birthdays and holidays can be costly, but the good news is that you don’t have to overspend. Send out thoughtful cards instead, and stop yourself from buying expensive gifts.

21. Don’t spend money on hobbies

Instead of spending on expensive hobbies, find free ones for now, like yoga, hiking, cooking, and other fun pastimes. Don’t spend on gear, classes, or anything that will cost you extra right now.

22. Use budget grooming options

Maybe it seems crazy to live without luxury grooming products, but the cheaper versions will work for now. Cut back on expensive grooming and opt for budget ones, including simple hair care and learning to trim your hair yourself. 

Related: 27 Tips for Spending Less Money on Makeup

23. Get a cheaper phone plan

For now, put unlimited phone plans on hold and get just what you need to get by. You can always upgrade later. After you get a cheaper plan, save the difference.

24. Don’t shop

Shopping is an expensive hobby. If you can’t afford to live on your own, stop recreational shopping and only buy essentials.

25. Stay home

It might seem a little bit dull, but going out is expensive. You might wind up buying food, drinks, or tickets for events.

Stay home and read, cook, watch tv, and hang out with your friends instead of blowing money on the weekends. 

26. Save all windfalls

If you happen to get a work bonus or get some unexpected money, don’t blow it. Instead, save it for your moving-out fund. Store all your savings in one place, and it will be encouraging to watch it grow.

27. Pay your bills on time

Paying your bills on time is good practice for rent, and it looks good for your credit, which you’ll need in most cases when you live on your own. Set reminders on your phone or write bill payments in your planner, so you don’t forget.

Related: Tips for Keeping Bills and Payments Organized

28. Build your credit

Your credit is vitally important when you’re trying to move out on your own. Don’t be late paying your bills, don’t carry a balance on your credit cards, and check out your credit score.

29. Consider splitting expenses with a temporary roommate(s)

If you want to get out on your own right away but can’t afford it, consider lowering your costs by taking on a roommate or two temporarily. Find out if anyone you know needs a place to stay for a few months or so, and that way, you can save money and move out. 

If you find short-term roommates, don’t renew when their stay is over. This is a great stepping stone to completely living on your own.

30. Consider renting a MIL suite

A mother-in-law suite is a small suite that’s part of a larger house. It’s typically a bedroom with a kitchen and maybe a bit more room, too.

You might also consider a pool house or garage apartment. This may be less costly than renting your own apartment, but it will get you on the road to independence.

31. Look for cheap accommodations to start in

Your first place by yourself isn’t the time for something fancy. You need a safe place to live that is clean and comfortable, but it doesn’t have to be large or expensive.

Going for cheap accommodations can save you money and help you out.

32. Have a minimalist approach to possessions to make moving cheaper

The less stuff you have, the less expensive it is to move. Become a minimalist before you start packing and selling or giving away things you won’t need or won’t have room for.

33. Plan to move yourself and not hire a service

Instead of hiring movers, handle the packing and moving yourself. This can save you cash in your moving fund.

So, use boxes or crates that you already have, pack up your stuff, and throw it in your car to move to its new location.

34. Use buy nothing groups to source things you need

Join your local buy-nothing group on Facebook if there are things that you need. You might be able to get some necessary items for your new place without paying anything.

Related: How to Live Without Money

35. Be creative

To get out on your own, be willing to look at things differently. Figure out what you can do without, find ways to save more, and be willing to work hard and think outside the box. 

How much cash should you save before moving out?

Good question! After all, you need a target amount to save for. Here’s my advice.

At least 3 months of living expenses.

If you have this much, you’ll have a nice-sized emergency fund to use if needed. And it can help you with anything unexpected during or shortly after your move.

Even if it takes some time, build up your living expenses by saving the same amount every month, and watch your savings get larger.

Moving expenses.

While an emergency fund can help in a pinch, it’s much better to have moving expenses saved up. Calculate how much you need for the first and last month’s rent and anything else you need to buy when moving out.

Money for deposits

Don’t forget to save up the money you’ll need for your deposit. The exact amount will vary depending on where you’re moving to, although it’s generally the cost of one month’s rent, so get the information far in advance and plan ahead.

Being able to afford to live on your own is an attainable goal but requires planning and determination. 

Living on your own is very achievable, and it’s a good thing to work towards. This can be more challenging if you live in an area where the cost of living and rent is high, but it’s still possible.

Some of the tips suggested are restrictive and extreme but they’re meant to be done only for a short amount of time while you save up moving costs and the associated expenses.

Before moving, make sure to plan everything out and be determined about pursuing your goals. If you do this, with some time and commitment, you’ll be able to live on your own. 

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Want somewhere to track your money across all accounts?  Grab this free financial dashboard to track your savings, retirement, net worth, and more!

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Steffa Mantilla

Certified Financial Education Instructor

Steffa is a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) and the founder behind Money Tamer. Her 12-year background in operant conditioning and positive behavioral change training is used to help people find effective motivators to change their harmful money behaviors. Steffa explains the reasons “why” behind people’s financial behaviors and how to successfully change them. After paying off over $80,000 in debt through budgeting, she now teaches families how to get their own finances in order. You can learn more about her here.

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