Living alone for the first time in a place that you pay the bills for is a big deal. Hardcore adulting begins from the time the lease gets approved and you pay all the deposits for the utilities, such as power and gas, to realizing you really need to cut back on the Starbucks.
You need to develop a budget for saving, spending and splurging. You have to somehow afford decorating all these blank walls and elevate the life hacks you used in college to survive and thrive. Here are a few tips to make your place feel like a home and reap all the benefits of living alone without feeling lonely.
Budgeting for Surviving and Thriving
You pay the deposit and the first month’s rent. You pay for all the utilities and their deposits. You pour the champagne and celebrate, until you realize next month is coming up fast.
You’re going to need a budget to survive the chunk of change taken from your savings and paycheck. You don’t have to give up the little things that make you feel sane and happy. What percentage do your rent and utilities take up? How much do you spend on groceries, entertainment, coffee and other items?
Most financial aspects can be automated. Take your fixed expenses, such as your rent or phone bill, and have them automatically deducted from your checking account. Subscribe to your bank’s text alerts to check your balance. Budgeting tools and apps like Mint and You Need a Budget (YNAB) help you create a budget and gives every dollar a job to do. Some apps, like Mint, give you a free credit score, but you can also space your three-free annual credit reports out. Set aside some money, even if it’s $25 a week.
Save those take out containers and use them to meal plan for at least lunch. If you work for a restaurant, take advantage of those free or discount meals when you can. Invest in a French press for your coffee.
Then, decide what your must-have splurges are — check out the pool place around the corner from your apartment. Say they offer free pool on a certain evening as long as you buy a beer. There’s a $3-$5 fun evening out to blow off steam with friends. Check out the First Friday gallery hops and discount movie theater showings. Create game nights and host dinner parties with friends. Give yourself room to thrive.
Decorating Your Place Affordably, With Style
Your place doesn’t have all stainless-steel appliances, but it does have the original hardwood floors — even if there’s an awkward crack in the corner. Your home needs to resonate with your taste and personality, especially after you come home after a long day.
Are there items you want to save up for? What about a big screen TV or a sturdy bookshelf for skyscrapers of books you have going on?
Check out the basements of friends and family and see if anyone had sturdy furniture lying around. Choose what you’ll use. Can you upcycle the piece? What if your aunt has an antique brass bed in that basement? That’s a keeper.
Check out thrift stores and yard sales. Collect odd glassware and art that adds an eclectic taste to your home but try to stick with a color palette.
You can easily update your home, too. Rugs add warmth and protect your feet from the crack in the floor. Update the kitchen by replacing old cabinet knobs with new stainless steel or brass ones, and do the same with drawer pulls. Mix and match them for a fun and funky look. Add more light by mounting LED lighting in dark spaces under cabinets.
Enjoying Time Alone with Useful Life Hacks
The beauty of living solo is that you can be as messy as you like and you don’t have to live by anyone’s rules but your own. That’s also the downside.
Think of cleaning as meditation time, as you let your body relaxing into the rhythm of mopping to Madonna. Cleaning doesn’t have to be boring.
If you must set three alarms to get yourself up in the morning — do it. Use a real alarm, so that you’re not tempted to stay latched to your phone until dawn breaks. There are even alarms you have to chase around the room to turn off.
Relaxing alone can feel lonely. So, turn on background noise, such as the TV or music. Talks to yourself. Everyone does it. Call your parents and your friends.
Date yourself with a lovely night in. Cook yourself a steak dinner, break out your adult coloring book, and don’t forget the wine! Even if you forget the wine opener, hack that with flathead screwdriver — push in the cork with the screwdriver. You can also use a wooden spoon if you think you’re more likely to give yourself an unintentional piercing. Life hacks are supposed to save lives, not decapitate fingers.
Living alone for the first time is an important rite of passage, but you don’t have to feel lonely when you do. Use these tips to survive and thrive during your first year in your own place. Cheers!