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Financial Planning at Every Stage: Preparing for Independence

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One of the many mysteries of moving out on your own and preparing for independence is what the actual costs are. Here are a few tips to help make moving out a bit more affordable.

Create a budget.

The sheer number of things that you’re suddenly responsible for can be overwhelming, and you might be amazed at how fast cash disappears if you’ve never lived on your own before. A budget helps you break up the costs and divide your money responsibly. One of the easiest ways to create a budget is using the 50/30/20 rule where 50% of your monthly income is spent on necessities, 30% is for wants, and 20% is allotted to savings and debt.

Your needs include the everyday things that you need to survive, like food, furniture, utilities, toiletries, small appliances and laundry. Your wants are the other things that can make life fun but can be cut in a pinch, like hobbies, shopping and vacations. It’s important to start saving early and often for financial independence. Dedicate part of your budget to an emergency fund and long-term savings every month.

You can also check out this interactive budgeting worksheet to calculate your monthly expenses and set some goals.

Spread out start-up costs.

This is a whole new phase of life, so you’ll need to buy a lot of stuff at the beginning. It’s likely you’ll need school supplies, specialized equipment for trade school, or professional attire if you’re going straight into the workforce. Try to spread the costs out so that you don’t have to buy it all at once. Just be careful that you don’t buy things you don’t end up needing. Focus first on things you know for sure will be useful (a laptop, uniform etc.), and then move to the things you might use (a fancy calculator, a special lab coat, nicer shoes, etc.).

Reduce the cost of college.

If you’re going to college after high school, reducing college costs may be a big concern. Scholarships, grants, and work-study programs can significantly alleviate the financial burden of tuition and related expenses. Scholarships and grants are types of financial aid awarded to students, often based on academic or other achievements, that do not need to be repaid. Work-study is a federally and sometimes state-funded program in the U.S. that helps students earn financial funding through a part-time work program while attending college. You can also consider attending community college for general education requirements before transferring to a four-year institution, offering a cost-effective approach to earning a degree.

Visit www.ecu.com/for-students for tools and resources, like our College Planning Center, college search tool and scholarship search tool.

Share the load.

If you’re moving out, consider getting roommates. This gives you people to share laughs, memories and expenses with. If you do live with roommates, make a plan for who will buy what before you move in. That way you can avoid ending up with two mini-fridges and no coffee maker.

It may also benefit you to share certain foods and dinners. It’s hard for one person to get through a gallon of milk or loaf of bread before it expires, but it’s pretty easy for three people. You may also ask about rotating dinner nights. For instance, one roommate makes dinner for everyone on Monday, the next on Tuesday, etc. It usually doesn’t cost much more to make a meal for two than it does for one and doing so saves money and time.

These tips were shared by our team at Educators Credit Union and our partners at Banzai and GreenPath Financial Wellness.

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