It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of moving out on your own for the first time. Maybe you’re headed to college, or finally moving beyond dorm life and out into the “real world” — apartments! Rent! Landlords! Electric bills! Suddenly excitement turns to dread. How the heck are you supposed to manage all those details?! MOM! DAD! HELP! Before you go running back to your childhood bedroom in your parents’ house (you’re a bit beyond those Ninja Turtles sheets, don’t you think?), read through these 6 tips for moving out on your own for the first time. With a little bit of focus and a few fairly easy tricks, it won’t seem quite so daunting.
1. Invest in a good bed
It can be tempting to skimp on your furniture purchases when you’re outfitting your first place, but even if you buy everything else second-hand or for cheap, you should at least buy a good mattress. If you’re not sleeping well, the rest of your life will suffer. Nothing makes you feel older, grumpier, and less excited about your new life than back pain and chronic fatigue. Unless you’re willing to spend time bargain hunting at your local furniture stores, you’re likely to find the best deals online. Amazon.com, for example, has mega deals on high-quality mattresses for under $300 — and if you want to go with Memory Foam, it’ll show up vacuum packed into a box on your doorstep. Your only job? Build yourself a platform, a DIY project that can be done on the cheap.
2. Let someone else do the heavy lifting
Hiring movers might seem like a decadent choice, but you won’t regret it. You have enough to worry about with your move without having to figure out how to get that sofa up the staircase or straining your back with heavy boxes. A well qualified team will make your move quick, easy, and relatively painless — at least, until you have to figure out where to put all of those knick knacks you decided to take with you. Be sure to hire movers who are professional, insured, and experienced, and read their reviews on a third-party site before handing over your cash! Using online tools is a great way to prepare for your move, as it will save you time and money, and help you stay organized. Price comparison and booking tools make finding and booking a mover much easier. You can find information about movers in your area, all in one place, and make inquiries directly in the platform – no need to make endless phone calls. Most of these online moving tools let you see real reviews from past customers, too.
3. Learn to cook simple, healthy things
One of the expenditures Americans spend a whole lot of money is on food. Pre-made meals, takeout, and frozen pizzas cost way more than preparing simple meals for yourself, and are generally full of preservatives or other unpronounceable ingredients that you don’t really want to put in your body. Start by getting to know your local grocery store — and stick to the periphery as much as possible. That’s where you’ll find foods in their most natural form. Make friends with the Bulk Section as well, where you can find large amounts of rice, oats, and other staples typically at lower prices.
There are plenty of amazing blogs out there with an abundance of recipes, all downloadable for free. ThugKitchen.com delivers clean eating with some mega sass and humor (steer clear if swear words bother you!). You can also check out Allrecipes.com and The Food Network for easy, quick and healthy recipes. Choose a few recipes that appeal to you, and master them before you worry about becoming any sort of world class chef.
4. Ditch the fancy cleaning supplies
All of those different spray bottles of cleaners for wood, porcelain and glass are a waste of money, and generally full of chemicals and synthetic fragrances. You can make your own cleaners for less money and sans chemicals with a few easy ingredients: white vinegar, baking soda, and castile soap. Need to scour your tub? Mix castile soap with baking soda and scrub away the grime. A 50/50 mix of vinegar and water, wiped with a microfiber cloth, will remove the minerals from sink fixtures, the streaks from mirrors, and clean your windows. Pour baking soda into the toilet to coat the bowl, then spray with vinegar and scrub with your toilet brush. And if you’ve got really tough stains, Borax is a natural but really effective powder you can add to your baking soda-castile soap mix.
5. Unplug to save electricity
There’s this thing called the “Phantom Load” – an energy draw that happens when your electronics are plugged in, but not on. That means that the electric meter is still ticking away, racking up your bill, even though you thought you were being good by turning everything off. If you’d really like to keep the electric bill down, unplug your electronics when you’re not using them. Make this easy by plugging things into a power strip/surge protector that has an on/off switch so that you can kill the electricity to your entertainment system, for example, with one flick of a switch.
6. Make a budget you can follow
With the technology available these days, it’s really not that difficult to get a picture of your spending habits and create a budget that will help you stay on track. You can either do this yourself by using an Excel sheet, or you can opt to use a mobile app. Mint.com is one such app that, year after year, has raked in the accolades for being easy to use and free — It links to your bank and credit card accounts to seamlessly import all of your purchases and spending. The program categorizes everything the best it can, but you can easily program it to categorize certain locations or purchases under specific budget categories. From there, you can track your spending by category or overall, set savings goals, and even get alerts if you’re nearing your budget limit. With this handy tool in your pocket, there’s no room for overdrafting or missing rent payments! There are plenty of budget apps out there, so do your research, and choose one that is right for you. Moving out on your own for the first time is a huge milestone in your life. With these simple hacks and tips, not only will it be a positive next step, but they will help you pave the way for future success in your adult life, for years to come.