How to Afford Living Alone: Top 7 Tips

Posted on July 20, 2021 in Money

Sometimes being on your own can be scary.  The more you think about it, however, the scarier scenario is never having that option.  There’s nothing antisocial or misanthropic about wanting to live alone.  As much as it’s a part of human nature to want to live in groups, it’s just as natural to crave your private time.  More importantly, there are phases in any life, and knowing how to afford living alone can help you learn more and become more productive on your own.

The one factor that keeps most people from living on their own is affordability.  Monthly bills are unforgiving and a salary only goes so far.  If you can’t find a way to make those two things match, then living alone feels like an unattainable goal. Most people would be surprised to discover there are simple steps you can take to strike out on your own.  You probably don’t have to change your salary, but you will have to change some behavior and habits.  Here are seven basic steps that will put you on the road to single living.  Follow them and you’ll be amazed to discover independence was closer than you thought when initially researching how to afford living alone. 

1. Learn The Importance Of Money Management

Begin your journey towards single living by figuring out how to manage your money.  Understanding why money management is important and how to control your finances is a crucial step towards living alone. Whether it’s your income or your savings, you need to be levelheaded and clear-minded when thinking about finance.  That may sound deceptively simple, but it’s remarkable how many people are overly optimistic when it comes to managing money.  There’s a tendency to stretch beyond your means and a reasonable cost of living, because you anticipate money that has yet to arrive.  Living in a credit-bound culture has taught most people to factor in next week’s paycheck or next year’s salary bump as if it were guaranteed, or in fact already here.  Assume the money you have is all you’ll ever have (amazingly, within each particular moment, that fact is true!).  Deal with your finances as they are; not as you wish them to be.  If you make your decisions starting from that premise, the rest of your plans begin to fall in line. 

2. Create a Monthly Budget Plan to Afford Living Alone

Three major expenses increase drastically when you live on your own.

  • Rent – You obviously expect this cost to increase, but pay close attention to the disparities in rental prices as dictated by location and size.  In some areas a single bedroom apartment costs more then a three bedroom house elsewhere.  Make good decisions about where you move, with stable rents and mortgages in mind. 
  • Utilities – Even though your home will consume less when you live alone, you’ll be paying all the bills, so you’ll probably still have to change habits (like cutting off air or heat when you’re away from home) to see an actual decrease in costs. 
  • Furnishings – If the people who lived with you owned any of the furniture, you’ll have to replace it or learn to do without.  Some apartments come furnished, but these don’t often save you money, and there’s usually a cleaning/damage deposit.  Factor in that cost, as you make your plans to live singly. 

To be ready for these expenses you should practice budgeting, and you should do so formally.  Plan your monthly expenses by looking at your income soberly.  See what you have to spend week to week, and what non-negotiable expenses have to be paid each month.  Most people understand the undeniable importance of paying the rent, but do you feel the same about your car, your utilities and your food?  Imagining yourself without either of those is unpleasant; not to mention unsustainable.  The same goes for your phone.  Try doing without a mobile in today’s world, and you realize quickly how essential they are. 

Use credible paid or free budgeting apps and devices to help you keep a manageable budget.  There are plenty of free programs like the Google or Yahoo calendars and schedulers. These tools give you a format to leave notes and reference those notes to applicable dates.  If you’re feeling really daring you can try apps like Truebill or Mint.  They actively find ways to help you lower your bills and expenses, but take a percentage of the money they help you to save. 

Whatever method you use to get your bills in line, the money you save will put you a step closer to living on your own.  Set a target amount for your monthly expenses that equals the monthly amount you must have in order to live alone.  When you reach that target, you’re that much nearer to your goal of independence. 

3. Pay Off Debt to Help Afford Living Alone

If you’re going to take that step of increased responsibility you absolutely must bring down your debt. 

When you’re on your own your credit rating is one of your major assets.  It affects your rent, your utility bills and every credit purchase you have to make.  If you pay off debt, you improve your credit score and can live on your own more successfully.  Begin with smaller debts.  Use money you set aside for ‘luxury items’ to rid yourself of outstanding balances.  Do you currently pay for more than one streaming service?  Take that monthly cost and apply it to a bill.  Buy bargain food instead of name brands for a few weeks.  These may seem like nickel and dime choices, but if they get rid of nickel and dime debts, so much the better. 

For your major debts look into debt settlement or debt consolidation to pay off your primary creditors. These two methods are defined below

  1. Debt Settlement – This repayment method involves paying a creditor a lump sum that is less than the full amount you owe.  The creditor accepts the amount in lieu of the total and considers the full debt to be paid. 
  2. Debt Consolidation – Debt consolidation involves rolling several debts into a single larger payment.  This may not cut down the total debt in the long run, but it does reduce your number of creditors and usually lowers your monthly payment substantially. 

Perhaps you brought a car, and didn’t plan properly, resulting in a loan default.  Large credit card bills may be out of hand and piling up.  Look into the methods above and you may be able to make your debt more manageable. 

4. Increase Savings to Afford Living Alone

This is another important step to being ready to live on your own.  Most financial consultants believe savings are the greatest indicator of financial stability.  You should have more than a week or a month’s worth of ‘rainy day’ funds.  Some financial planners, such as financier Suze Orman, believe you should have an emergency savings that allows you to live for six months without additional income.  Almost every planner suggests you follow something along the lines of the 50/30/20 rule.  This rule breaks down as follows:

  • 50% of your income goes to things you require, i.e. the things you simply must have (rent, food, etc.).
  • 30% of your income goes to things you merely want (entertainment, vacation, etc.).
  • 20% of your income goes to savings and debt. 

Following this system may seem difficult, especially if you’re barely managing on the income you have.  Don’t treat the percentages as targets you must hit immediately.  Set these rates as financial goals and work your way towards them.  Obviously you can build your savings if twenty percent of your monthly income contributes to it.  It’s best to make savings deposits as automatic as your bills.  Have a set amount come from your income and let it be directly deposited into an emergency fund or savings account without exception. 

5. Earn More, Spend Less

Increasing income is possibly the hardest goal to reach on your road to independence, but it is one that is completely under your control.  It’s difficult, if not impossible, to convince the average employer to increase your salary.  It is possible, however, to take on more work at your own discretion to earn more money.  Even if your main job doesn’t have overtime work, you can create a side hustle that can augment your income.  If you have a particular skill, chances are there’s a venue willing to pay you for it.  Freelance sites like Fiverr and Upwork allow freelancers to create profiles and bid for work.  Job sites like Indeed and Zip Recruiter post jobs that are permanent, part-time or temporary.  You can create a free website on platforms such as Wix or WordPress.  Support platforms like Patreon or Youtube will help you monetize posted videos with a following.  Any of these sources may provide you with extra net income and bring you closer to your dream of moving on your own. 

6. Look For Deals When You Move

You must remain money conscious when you plan your actual move.  Look for bargains.  Many rental properties have move-in specials and discounts.  Some of them may forgive the first month’s rent.  Sometimes they reduce the price for the first three to six months.  Moving companies may have special deals as well.  Look for rates that drop if you schedule your move for non-peak hours.  In terms of furniture, go to bargain shops and flea markets.  Look for special deals online and search private listings for bargains.  All these savings add to your total, and will help you afford living alone.  The less you spend, the more you keep, and the better you will live your single life.  

7. Live Frugally But Well

We’ve been talking a lot about making sacrifices, but don’t forget to live along the way.  You don’t need to splurge or break your good habits, but creating a happy lifestyle is a part of living on your own.  What good is independence if you’re miserable?  You’ll still buy things and entertain yourself occasionally, and you may as well do so properly.  When you spend your money on pleasure, always try to get the best.  Go to the finer theaters or take a day trip to a beautiful retreat.  You can do a lot of wonderful things inexpensively.  Buy a great office chair or the computer monitor you always wanted.  However you treat yourself, it’s a reminder that you remember how to live well and can trust yourself to live alone properly. 

FAQ’s About How to Afford Living Alone

Lets look at some frequently asked questions about being able to live on your own.  We’ve answered a few of them along the way, but its good to go over a single list, so the answers are all in one place. 

What salary do you need to live alone?

The costs vary, but your salary should dictate your living choices.  Don’t live beyond your means, and you’ll find practically any living wage allows you to live on your own. 

What is the cheapest way to live alone?

The cheapest way to live alone is with as few expenses as possible.  Don’t pay for the largest cable package when you move out.  Have a reasonable mobile plan.  Try to move somewhere near your job, to cut down on your commute. 

How do people afford living without roommates?

Get into the habit of handling and paying for everything yourself before you actually move on your own.  You won’t miss other people in your house, if you’re accustomed to doing everything yourself. 

How can I make enough money to live by myself?

You may already be making enough to live alone.  Find a way to live completely within your means and your income will, by definition, be enough to take care of you. 

How do I live alone with no money?

You can’t live anywhere with NO money.  If you’re on your own, you dictate what is acceptable or not.  Let your lifestyle grow according to your own capability.  You don’t need to impress or be judged by anybody but yourself. 

How do I afford an apartment by myself?

Establish credit and save money, then move on a timetable that works for you. 

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