So you’ve taken the leap, venturing out on your own for the first time or perhaps starting again from scratch. Either way it can be a daunting task, there’s the furnishing, the utility bills, the rent and/or the mortgage to consider.
So how does one manage all this on a budget and still maintain their sanity? From someone who has done this at least three times now here are the basics:
Have a plan to save money
It can’t be said enough that we don’t plan to fail, we fail to plan. Before you leap, first consider what sort of housing will best suit you and your needs? Are you the kind of person that loves your personal space and don’t like sharing your toys or do you prefer the company of others and occasional devouring of that last piece of forbidden chocolate cake in your housemate’s fridge?
Sharing a house can be one of the most affordable options when it comes to accommodation, but it only suits some personalities. So if you prefer to strut the house naked, leave your bowls in the sink till they’re sprouting a new kind of penicillin or fancy yourself a Guitar hero god at 2am, then perhaps consider renting a granny flat or townhouse.
Know your fortnightly income and expenditure
In other words; understand the basics of budgeting. Rent or mortgage have to come first in the list of financial priorities. Having been a landlord I can tell you right now “sorry I blew my pay on the horses/pub/birthday and can’t pay rent this week” is never an acceptable excuse, not to the landlord and not to the bank.
Write a list of all necessary expenditure putting the mortgage or rent at top, followed by anticipated utility bills and if you need help estimating these, try asking family. Find out what their utility bills are per annum and divide by 26 to work out how much to put aside each fortnight. Add all of this up and subtract it from your pay – if you have money left over – these are your fun tickets, if there is none left over it may be necessary to re-assess your accommodation expense and/or type/location of accommodation.
Alternatively you can look at our Budget Spreadsheet product for an easier management of your bills and expenses.
Furnishing while saving money
If you have the restraint to put on clothes in common areas and managed to limit Guitar hero to the hours of 6pm to 9pm, then share housing can also be the easiest way to furnish a house.
In most share accommodation one or more tenants will already have at least a couch and a fridge so at most you will need a bed and maybe a desk. These items are available cheaply on eBay/allclassifieds/op shops second hand or if you prefer new try IKEA or Fantastic furniture.
If the thought of parting with your beloved alone time is too hard to bear and have a whole flat/townhouse to furnish, start with the before mentioned stores and also consider “freecycle” groups – check out yahoo.com for more details on one in your area.
Social life and still saving money
Starting over again can be temporarily damaging to your social life, particularly if you’re cash poor from setting up house. To avoid becoming a social outcast the best thing to do is tell your friends what’s going on. If they are aware you are struggling financially even though it’s temporary, maybe you can skip your round at the pub, have them over to your new place for poker/board games, have dinner at their place or even score some of their un-needed furniture.
If they’re good friends they will understand and want to help, if they’re not – you won’t be losing anything that won’t eventually cost you in the long run. Housemates can also be great company, if you do choose share accommodation, look for a place with like-minded people, you might make some wonderful new friends.