Supporting Yourself—The Challenges

When you move out on your own, you will assume responsibility for providing the basic necessities of life for yourself. Providing those necessities— shelter, food, clothing, and transportation—requires a predictable source of income. In fact, it is essential to survival in the adult world.

When you announce that you are moving out, the first question you are likely to hear is “How will you support yourself?” Behind this question lies a concern about whether you have squarely faced the realities of independent living. If you have experience in earning and handling your own money, it will be easier to answer this question realistically. Have you worked part-time or full-time, provided your own spending money, paid car expenses, or built a savings account? Have you contributed to your family’s income? On the other hand, you may find answering this question hard if the reverse is true. Did your parents prefer that you devote your time to studies and extracurricular activities instead of working or helping at home? Were your parents willing to foot all the bills while you were still in school?

You probably have several possible sources for the money you need to pay your bills. You might receive an allowance for your support from your parents. If so, they may keep some control over how you spend the money. You could work part-time or full-time or use savings from past jobs. If you are a student, be sure to consider the hours you have available to work and whether the job you are considering is well-paying and flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are still in school, perhaps you can get loans and scholarships. However, you must repay loans. You may need to pursue a specific major or keep up a certain grade average for a scholarship. Can you think of other realistic sources of money to support yourself? What are the advantages and disadvantages and how reliable is each source?

Estimating Your Expenses

Before you move out on your own, you will need to become aware of the relationship between financial responsibility and personal independence. As you prepare for independent living, ask yourself three important questions:

  • How much will living on your own cost?
  • How will you acquire the money you need to pay your bills?
  • Can you continue to meet your obligations in the future?

To estimate the cost of living on your own, list the monthly expenses you might have during your first year and the cost of each. Ask your family and friends to check your list of expenses and add any you have missed. Ask them to check the accuracy of your cost estimates and mark those that are too low or too high. Revise your estimates as needed. How much monthly income will you need to meet those expenses? Will your pay be enough to meet your expenses each month? How will you handle unforeseen expenses or emergencies?

Before you get serious about moving out of your old room, make sure you know what you’re getting into and that you are ready to take on the responsibilities that go with flying the coop. The following post by Bryan Taylor will get you started:

Have you covered the basics of living on your own? If not, you could end up being one of the 40% of young adults who find that they need to move back home.


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