I moved out when I was 18 years old to start college. I lived on campus and while I was technically “on my own,” I still spent the summers at my parents, and always had them to fall back on if I needed.
Although I took care of my normal expenses while in college, I didn’t carry the emotional weight of being on my own.
For me, officially getting out from under my parents coincided with my marriage.
I moved from my campus dorm into an apartment with my new wife in the Summer of 2014. My wife and I wanted to be totally independent and didn’t get married until we had the ability to do so.
And while we did it, I’d be lying if I said it was easy. Doing life without your parents help to lean on is tough. There’s so much stuff you don’t think about until it happens.
That’s what I want to share today.
Here are 7 things I learned about money after moving out.
1. Groceries Are Insanely Expensive
When I was in college I bought my own groceries. But I also lived on campus. This means I ate over half of my meals at school because it was included in my tuition.
Even though I technically paid for my groceries through my school bills, I didn’t feel this money in the same way I did when Hanna and I started buying groceries on our own.
If you’re still living at home, you really shouldn’t underestimate the magnitude of this expense.
I used to take for granted all of the food my parents just had on hand. At any given time I could walk into the pantry and find just about anything I wanted.
And if it wasn’t in there, we had enough ingredients that we could cook just about anything imaginable.
In the first few months of my wife and I together, I can only imagine how much we spent on just getting ingredients. You’ve got to build up a stockpile of flour, rice, beans, and of course cream of mushroom soup (because literally, every recipe ever calls for it).
But food isn’t it.
There’s toilet paper, cleaning supplies, dish detergent, paper towels, water filters, and all sorts of other things that need to get bought every single month. And believe me, this stuff adds up.
2. Actually, Life, In General, Is Expensive
And most of it isn’t fun.
There’s just all kinds of things you don’t think about when you’re parents are footing the bill.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of obnoxious things that you need in life. Like , vacuums, shampoo, oil changes, tire rotations, car insurance, renter’s insurance, hair cuts, underwear, socks, and deodorant.
No one wants to spend money on deodorant, but you’ve gotta have it.
And don’t even get me started on cleaning supplies. We spent $200 on a vacuum in our first year of marriage.
Like, that sucks.
I coulda bought 3 Xbox games, a 2-day snowboarding pass, a new longboard, a bunch of new clothes, or heck even 200 tacos at taco bell and that would’ve been more exciting than a stinking vacuum.
But you gotta have it.
And that’s what life is like as an Adult.
3. Dealing With Insurance Companies Is Complicated
I kind of alluded to this one earlier, but it bears repeating.
As an adult, you have to deal with all sorts of insurance companies. You’ve got health insurance, car insurance, renter’s insurance, pet insurance, and maybe home insurance.
All of these are complicated and very few people you know can help you understand them.
Which leaves you struggling and alone when it comes to figuring out what the best options are, what decisions to make, and how to file a claim.
This is one of those skills you wish you would’ve learned in high school. You know, practical stuff like how to fix and toilet or navigate an airport.
That would’ve been much more useful than memorizing the presidents or learning that the scientific symbol for Gadolinium is Gd.
4. The Birthday/Christmas/Holiday Gift Change
Christmas and birthdays are super exciting when you’re a kid.
But as a broke twenty-something, these events can be extremely difficult and actually become dreadful.
My wife and I spent over $800 buying Christmas gifts last year for the people in our life.
Now don’t get me wrong, I wanted to do that, but there’s no doubt that it’s very expensive.
All of sudden once you’re an “Adult” and on your own, you’re also expected to start getting Christmas presents for people you never bought for before.
On top of that, your Aunts and Uncles all stop buying you stuff and move on to your nieces and nephews instead. After all, you’re an Aunt or Uncle now too.
To deal with this, I’ve learned to start saving monthly for this stuff. At least this way I’m not scrounging for loose change beneath the couch cushions come December.
5. Vacations… Holy Crap
The amount of money my parents spent over the years on just a beach trip is now extremely apparent to me. I never realized this as a kid, but now I realize how much I took for granted.
Taking the expected yearly vacations that are so prevalent in the middle class is freaking expensive.
My wife and I have been married for two years and we’ve tried our best to take a few short vacations when we can.
We use Groupon, cash back credit card bonuses, go in off-seasons and travel to modest places where we don’t have to fly. Yet, these trips are still insanely expensive.
The bottom line is that my life growing up was very comfortable, but also expensive. And it’s been tough for me to try and replicate that comfort.
Which brings me to my next point.
6. I Can’t Expect To Live How I Did Before I Moved
Speaking of vacations, the other thing I’ve learned is that my quality of life and the things I get to do has gone down since moving out.
I simply can’t afford to live like my parents.
And this makes sense, right?
I mean I haven’t saved up any money and I make a lot less than they do because I’m early in my career.
How in the world could I expect to live like them?
Yet I do.
And you probably do too.
It’s hard because we get accustomed to a certain lifestyle growing up that we simply can’t afford in our early twenties. We get used to eating out regularly, buying whatever groceries we want, driving all over town in nice cars, and living in big homes.
It’s a real problem and many of us feel entitled to this lifestyle.
But I’ve had to learn how to push these feelings to the side. I’ve been trying to keep things in perspective.
My parents didn’t live how they do now when they were newly married, I can’t either, and that’s okay. It’s part of life.
7. It’s Hard… But There Are Few Things More Satisfying
Moving out is tough, especially in big cities. Luckily I live in a relatively low cost of living area, and it’s still hard. I can’t imagine living in San Francisco or New York.
Being an Adult in America is expensive and there’s a lot of pressure to live a certain way and buy certain things. On top of that, everyday necessities are just expensive.
As teenagers and young adults, we’re used to spending what little money we have on fun things we want. When we have to start buying “adult” stuff, the fun goes away.
But despite the difficulties, moving out has been one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done.
Paying rent, buying groceries, and simply making it through a month of bills is extremely fulfilling. There’s something to be said for feeling independent and that you can actually take care of yourself.
It’s huge. And it really makes you feel like an actual Adult.
In an age where we’re told that Gen Y is one of the worst, ungrateful, and spoiled generations, there’s a satisfying “I told you so” about paying your own bills.
There’s nothing quite like it.
What About You?
These are the things I’ve learned, if you haven’t moved out yet, maybe this will help you think about what you should consider before you make the leap.
But if you’ve have already struck out on your own, what things have you learned that I missed? I’d love to hear in the comments below.