Moving into your first apartment is exciting, but it also requires financial planning and preparation. (&istockphoto.com/Gene Chutka)
By Lauren Brown Provided by WorldNow
For young adults living on their own for the first time, independence can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. The safety of a parent's home or dorm no longer offer the protection that many take for granted.
One of the biggest transitions most grads have to make is with regards to money. Paying for rent, groceries, transportation and a social life can be very eye opening, especially for those who've never handled finances before.
Many young adults are burdened with student loans to pay off or move to cities with high costs of living. While food and gas prices rise and unemployment is up, there are some easy ways to save money, while still enjoying your new freedom and an independent lifestyle.
Look in different neighborhoods to get a feel for the areas.
Looking through apartment listings on the internet can be deceiving; if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Consider finding a roommate in order to save money. Craigslist and other online services are a good place to look for a roommate, but be sure to take some time to meet the person first and make sure that you feel comfortable with them and can establish some common house rules.
You might want to live in the center of all of the action, but it will undoubtedly be more expensive. If you choose to live a little farther out you can save money, but make sure that there is sufficient transportation to work, grocery stores, pharmacies, etc. Do a trial commute to work to see what is actually feasible.
Take your time furnishing and setting up your apartment. You don't need to get everything right away, and you won't necessarily be sure what you need until you spend some time there and get into a routine.
Though you may want to explore the new restaurants in your area and should, cooking for yourself does save money.
Take the time to go grocery shopping for foods that you like and feel comfortable cooking. Frozen dinners and processed foods may seem convenient but there is a flip side - they are sometimes more expensive and can pack on the pounds.
In the summer, look for farmer's markets in your area where you can get fresh produce.
Pricey lunches during the work week also drain your funds. It may not be as exciting but if you bring your lunch but you'll be making that salary count.
Cook for your friends and let them cook for you. This is a great way to socialize that will not break your bank. Pasta and a salad, with some good bread and wine are not terribly expensive and easy for a chef of any caliber. When you cook at your place you can bring in the leftovers for lunch.
Invite your parents to come see your new place and let them take you out to dinner. The good meal will be a treat and your family will be happy to see you getting fed well.
A car may seem like a necessity but in most urban settings it isn't. Public transportation is more than likely cheaper than the money you would devote to gas, car insurance, and maintenance.
When you start your job inquire with the Human Resources department if they have a program for transportation that takes pre-tax dollars out of your pay check. This is another great way to save.
In the summer try walking. It's a good way to get exercise and sometimes faster than buses or subway trains.
You can have fun on a budget. There are tons of free and cheap things to do if you keep your eyes and ears on alert.
During the summer, many cities and towns have free concerts and movies.
If you're a fan of bars, have a bottle of wine or some drinks at home, rather than spending your money on overpriced drinks while you're out.
Often museums are free on Friday nights. You can make an event out of it and splurge for dinner since you'll be saving on what can be expensive entrance fees.
Art openings usually serve free drinks and end up having a party-type atmosphere.
If you enjoy the movies, look for the older less popular theaters, discount nights, or matinees which tend to be cheaper. And sneak in your own snacks, movie popcorn costs a small fortune.
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