The day you spend your own money on paper towels, cleaning supplies, and the utility bill is the day money takes on a whole new meaning.

Time to Budget

Create a budget before you move out to make sure you can hack it on your own. Determine how much monthly income you’ll have, and then add up your expenses, including: rent and utilities (gas, water, and/or electricity), insurance (renters, car, and health), transportation (gas, car maintenance, and/or public transport), food, phone, and household items (necessities like toilet paper and toothpaste).


Housing will be your largest expense, but there are lots of options; consider getting a roommate or starting out with a studio apartment to cut costs.

Paying the Bills

First-hand experience: If you misplace the electricity bill, you may not get a reminder until the power company is about to kill the lights. Make sure to pay bills on time to avoid service delays. Keep track of due dates.

All Accounted for

You’re going to need money with your name on it, so set up a personal checking account. Look for a credit union or bank with free checking, low fees (if any), and conveniences like online bill pay, debit cards, and direct deposit. Make sure the institution is an FDIC (for banks) or NCUA (for credit unions) member. Your deposits are insured if it fails.

Once you have your account you’ll need to monitor it to make sure no one’s ripping you off. Check for purchases you didn’t make, and keep an eye on the account balance.

Credit Watch

If you’re swipe-happy, finance charges and debt will catch up with you. So if you get a card, only charge what you can afford to pay off each month. If you overspend, pay down as much as you can to keep the balance under 30% of your total credit limit. Anything higher can hurt your credit score.

Health Care

As an adult, it is now your responsibility to take care of your health. With the Affordable Care Act, you are probably covered under your parents’ health insurance plan or are eligible for your own coverage. Check your state’s health care exchange website for more information.

Housewares & Furnishings

You can’t avoid it — you’ve got to have “stuff” to live on your own — furniture, dishes, silverware, sheets, toothpaste, toilet paper, food. Discount and big box stores are great places to stock up on home basics, and thrift shops are even better for furniture.

A Sense of Adventure

Life’s responsibilities don’t have to be boring. Mundane tasks like choosing the right car, finding affordable housing, or researching jobs are as fun as you make them.

Home Is Where the Wallet Is

You might stay at home for a while after high school, and you’re not alone. According to the New York Times, one in five 20- to 30-year-olds are living at home. This is a good time to plan and save money for whatever comes next. Either way, you’re an adult now and want to be treated like one. How do you transition from teenager to independent adult while still living at home? Boundaries.

Sit down with your parents or guardians and set new expectations for your relationship. First, think about what you want to be different. Second, consider what you are willing to do or change to achieve that — you’ve got to be willing to bend.

  • Chip in on chores. Roommates share household duties. Get used to it.
  • Want to come and go as you please without permission? Show a little forethought and consideration by communicating in advance that you’ll be home late or staying out at night.
  • Excited about having friends over? Discuss the possible pitfalls and make concessions. If anything in the house is damaged during a gathering, your wallet should be willing to recover the loss.

Following through on your commitments and acting responsibly will pay off in the long run.

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