The initial period after moving out for the first time is always the most expensive. Initial moving costs aside, it’s pretty damn tough to adjust without your ‘rents picking up after you. Even if you’ve spent time developing some independence at home, it’s likely that just living in their house has meant that they’ve at least covered some of your costs. And because you’ll be new at it, you’re probably going to be hopeless at looking after yourself, and the easiest ways to satisfying basic survival needs are generally the most expensive. But don’t get too down on yourself; there are some simple ways to live a little cheaper.
1. Find out where most of your money goes
The first thing you should do is find out where you’re spending the bulk of your money, and cutting that shit down. After all, there’s no point in ordering less takeaway meals if you’re actually spending half your pay check on UberBLACKs everywhere. If you’re not prepared to simply purchase less of your particular vice, you can also get creative in minimising this expense. If it’s clothes, set up a market stall and sell some older items. If it’s booze, buy wine from ALDI, and if it’s on rent, maybe you shouldn’t be living in fucking Pyrmont.
2. Shop well
Actually, you shouldn’t just buy wine from ALDI – you should buy everything from ALDI. Not only are their camemberts bloody délicieux, but you even end up saving up to 59% when shopping for pretty much the same items. You should also set up a grocery budget relative to your weekly income, and stick to it, even if it means spending some time snooping around for cheaper alternatives. Buy things in bulk if you can, and try to bring things from home; a chocolate bar from a packet bought at the grocery store is gonna be tonnes cheaper than buying a muffin from a café on the go.
3. Eat cheap
When I was living with my parents, the only time I would spend my own money on food was when I was eating out or getting delivery. That means that when I was living on my own and I got hungry, my initial reaction was to whip out Deliveroo and order myself a mean gyros. I’m not saying I don’t do that anymore, but training myself to cook most of my meals is the single best money-wise thing I’ve ever done. The next best thing was to learn how to cook cheaply (hint: you don’t need meat and cheese in every meal).
4. Communal living
If you’re living with housemates, then you better act like it. Sharing resources with the person sleeping near you is how we thrived as a damn species, and at the very least it’s gonna save you some bucks here and there. It can be as simple as sharing a spice rack and cooking utensils, or something as large as carpooling to work every day. Other things you should share: sauces and condiments, hardware and tools, taxis and lifts, secrets. Things you shouldn’t share: toothbrushes, underwear, boyfriends (unless you’ve got it really figured out).
5. Reclaim your debts
A problem that can arise with communal living is finding yourself doing all the purchasing and getting no reimbursement from your housemates. Most of the time it isn’t even because they’re setting out to put you out of pocket; it’s really easy for some purchases to slip through the cracks, and it can be a pain chasing up multiple instances of $3 or $4 at a time. But it all adds up, and you’re definitely entitled to these debts, so don’t let up. These days, apps like Splitr and Splitwise can streamline the entire process.
6. Keep in contact with your parents
Apart from being just good advice in general (show some damn appreciation to them for putting up with you!!) visiting your parents often can have a convenient side-effect of cutting some expenses out of your life. At the very least it could be a weekly home-cooked meal, or access to a free washing machine, and if you’re extra nice they might even send you home with a bag full of groceries.
Header image: @marlee_harrison