Ahh…freedom. Now that you’re living on your own, you can make your own rules, set your own schedule and maybe eat pancakes for dinner and pizza for breakfast. But, freedom is a two-way street. You’re also free to pay your own way, perhaps for the first time. Here are some tips to help with the financial transition:
1. Set Up a Spending Plan
You’ve probably already figured out how much you’ll need to pay each month for rent and utilities, but have you considered the cost of things like laundry detergent, toilet paper and shampoo? Are you paying your own cell phone bill for the first time? What about cable or satellite TV, internet, food, gas and entertainment? Write down all your expenses, compare them to your income and make adjustments where necessary.
Remember to account for bills that don’t come due every month, like car insurance. Check out these budgeting tips to see how you can better manage your money.
2. Build Your Credit History
Responsible use of a credit card can help you obtain credit and take advantage of the best rates for auto or mortgage loans. Pay your balance off each month if possible. If not, try to pay more than the minimum due. If you don’t qualify for a conventional credit card, consider applying for a Navy Federal Credit Union nRewards® Secured credit card. It can help you build your credit history.
3. Save for Emergencies
Many experts suggest you have an emergency savings fund of at least three months’ worth of living expenses—more if you work in an industry with frequent layoffs. That way you’ll be prepared to cover unexpected costs such as car repairs or replacement lenses when you accidentally flush your contacts. Your emergency fund can also help see you through temporary unemployment. Consider having part of your pay automatically diverted to a savings account.
4. Learn to Cook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average 25- to 34-year-old consumer spends more than $3,100 a year eating out. You can eat for less—and stay more healthy—when you shop for and cook your own food.
5. Shop Thrift Stores
Rather than shell out thousands of dollars on new furniture and kitchenware, consider second-hand shops or buying used items. Second-hand shops can offer a treasure trove of household items at low prices. Also check out yard sales and appeal to your parents, neighbors and family members for household hand-me-downs. However, you probably will want to buy a new mattress. A bargain isn’t a bargain if it comes with bedbugs.
6. Share and Share Alike
If you’re just a casual user, do you really need to own your own camping, skiing or boating equipment? Consider buying stuff you’ll need only once or twice a year with a group of like-minded and responsible friends.
7. Protect Your Stuff
You never know when a windstorm, a fire or the upstairs neighbor’s overflowing bathtub will damage the belongings in your apartment, or when sticky fingers will take off with your things. Renters insurance is inexpensive protection for your laptop, flat screen TV and other possessions.
Time to enjoy your new independence! No matter where you are in life, Navy Federal is here to support your financial success.