The Financial Realities of Living Alone
Living alone is liberating, exciting, intimate, and mature.
Living alone is scary, expensive, stressful, and quiet.
Choosing to embark on a lease without roommates is a big decision. It takes a lot of careful consideration and planning; you can’t just charge into it blind. Even if it’s something you want and feel 100% prepared to do, actually paying every bill and handling every issue on your own is a little overwhelming. Honestly, living alone is similar to walking on a tightrope. One misstep or slight shift in balance and you’re (financially) dead.
Before you formally say goodbye to your roommates and sign on the dotted line, you need to be prepared for what it’s really like to live alone. And by live alone, I mean foot the bill alone.
Say Goodbye to Buffers
…between you and the landlord, between you and the cleaning, and between you and the bills. You can no longer push the scary or gross things off onto a roommate. You can’t find financial solace in splitting the utilities and rent. Those happy days are gone.
There’s no roommate to ask to pay a little more on the months when you’re just running short. You can’t be short of money to pay your bills when you live alone. Now you have to pay every single penny on your own. You also have to do the dishes every time because no one else is around to cave to your passive-aggressive avoidance.
The Bills Don’t Get Cheaper
This goes back to the fact that you have no one to split things with or to blame when the utility bill is higher than normal. The bills won’t be cheaper every now and then when your roommate is out of town. The bills will be the same—or more expensive—each month, and the responsibility will sit heavily on your shoulders.
You’ll be amazed at how much you worry whether or not the lights were turned off before you rushed out of the door for work. Those minor issues become bigger when you have no one else to blame for taking an hour-long shower, and each extra dollar you pay for that will piss you off.
You Have to Replace Everything
Broken coffee cups? You have to buy them yourself. Busted Keurig? There’s no one to split it with. Any item you replace or fix is entirely paid for by you when you ditch the roommate life. This is one of those things you don’t really anticipate before moving into a solo abode, but it is an eventuality you’ll deal with. Even if it’s something small, like a new trash can, you’ll miss the days of splitting everything like you miss your high school abs and glutes.
Oh, and you can’t avoid buying new shampoo by using your roommate’s anymore, either. If you run out of something, you’ll be forced to purchase some more because there’s no one to casually “borrow” from.
Budgeting Becomes a Daily Habit
No, really. You have to watch your money much closer when you live alone than you did living with roommates. It costs a lot just to live, and even more to live alone. Since you never know when something could break or come up, you have to keep a little cushion in the bank.
Every single cup of Starbucks or impulse sock purchase has to be budgeted for. Otherwise, you could find yourself with a whopping $20 to eat off of for a week in order to pay your bills—which is not a situation you want to find yourself in, because a) it’s stressful, and b) you’ll be hangry.
You’ll Learn How to Compromise
The chances of you being able to own everything you want is pretty slim when you live alone in your twenties. Internet, heat, and air are essentials (obviously), but they aren’t cheap. That means you’ll have to give something up, like cable or curtains—both of which I’ve foregone in order to live alone.
Living alone teaches you the difference between what you want and what you need. What you need will always win out, by the way. If you want to live solo, then go ahead and accept the fact you’ll have to give something up in some area of your life sooner or later.
Living alone is difficult on your bank account, but it’s also a very rewarding experience. Even though you’ll be stressed out about your money, you’ll be just as proud of yourself for pulling it off. As long as you prepare yourself for the financial responsibility and surprises before moving into your own place, you’ll be able to handle everything. Make sure you have a nice amount of savings just in case something major breaks, and budget diligently to keep yourself in check. It’s a nice feeling to know you’re footing your own bill and standing on your own two feet in every way.
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Last modified on July 13th, 2017