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Home Alone, Paying Alone

The Lowdown on Living on Your Own


By Joyce Reyes-Aguila


Kevin McCallister is probably the only human being who enjoyed being home alone. A lot of it was due to the fact that he didn’t have to worry about being mindful of his expenses. He, of course, needed to protect the family abode from two very persistent burglars in the blockbuster movie series Home Alone. But Kevin never had to consider the cost of damage to property or think of how much his parents’ electricity bill would be after all his stunts. In the real world, being home alone means budgeting to pay for bills, maintain a household, and save for future needs.

Having a go at finances by yourself makes us miss Mom and Dad even more, or even the housemate you regularly sat down with to compute household expenses. You are on your own in many ways. Income is limited; expenses seem limitless. Preparation is key, so consider these tips before you make the big move.

  • Here and now.

Consider the type of arrangement you want vis-à-vis the amount of money you have saved and are making.  Are you renting? How much will the down payment and monthly payment of buying property take off your savings and income? List the anticipated expenses, such as electricity, water, phone bills, and even association dues. Do you already have a credit card or two that should be added to your list? Account for needs like internet and cable connections.

  • Daily essentials.

Living on your own means you will have to pay for the water you will drink, food you will eat, your soap and shampoo, and even the sponge for your kitchen sink. First-time independents usually enjoy their triumph before realizing they missed purchasing a towel (or asking their parents for a couple). Assessing these expenses and your capacity to afford them regularly along with the rest of your financial responsibilities will help you prioritize what to put on your budget first.

  • Choose your filters.

The start of anything is never easy, so open yourself to options. Purchase second-hand items, consider furniture your parents are offering for you, and accept that you will not be able to build your dream home right away. You could live without a television for a while if it means you can invest on a good bed. Items you need may often be priced cheap at malls but always think of quality or else you may have to buy a water kettle every six months.

  • Establish a system.

In doing so, you impose discipline in being able to afford living alone. Have a calendar that reminds you when bills are due. Assign a day ahead of your payday to budget. And spend the day of your payday or the day after to pay for your bills first. You should treat your personal savings like any other obligatory bill – a must-pay so you can have money for emergency expenses like paying for the services of an electrician, plumber, or fees for your television set to be fixed.

  • What can you give up?

Whether you are planning to live by yourself soon or are already learning to do so, you can always do more. You can use your car less if commuting entails less spending. You can give up a gym membership and divert the money for pay for necessary things on your budget. Be creative with fitness for the meantime. See what you can sell online, including items you have at your parents’ place, to add to your purchasing power.

  • Learn some house rules.

You are not the first to go through “adulting.” What’s good is that many of these brave souls share wisdom online. Read about their experiences and best practices. You will learn that some items at the grocery are best bought in bulk, or that opening your windows or blinds can lower your electricity bill. They will help you measure if you are ready to take on a loan and be able to pay for it. Learning from them will help you measure if you are ready to manage your own space.

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