I feel like the majority of high school students can’t wait until the day they move out. They can’t wait for the freedom from their parents and the ability to do what they want, when they want. I moved out a little before I finished high school and learned what it’s like to have roommates, spend too much at the grocery store, and be frustrated every other day.
If you’re about to move out, learn from these mistakes and save yourself from endless frustrations.
1. Everything Costs Money
And they cost more than you think. Once you move out, buying toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, groceries, etc. is all on you. You learn quickly why your mom bought that off brand 2-ply toilet paper instead of the thick Charmin and why she bought Berryhill grape jelly and not Smuckers. You learn why she always said, “We have food at home,” instead of stopping at Cook Out on the way home from church. There’s a lot to learn about shopping, but the good news is that you figure it out within the first month.
That first grocery trip you go on is the one where you’ll by everything you’re used to having around. My version of this was buying 5 different fruits. My boyfriend’s version of this was buying fancy lunch meats and cheeses.
$50 is pretty much all you need to spend on groceries for yourself for a week. On my first trip, I spent $70, and most of it went bad before I could eat it.
Nearly a year and a half later, my standard grocery trip costs me around $20. That covers berries and Greek yogurt for breakfast, ham and cheese sandwiches for lunches with carrots and a granola bar, chicken and vegetables for dinners, and a snack or two that all lasts me the week.
The big shift in how much I spend started when I stopped shopping at Publix and went to Aldi instead when a new one opened up near me. I realize not everyone has an Aldi, but even buying the store brand versions of the food you want will save you money.
Whatever you find you eat in a week, you learn how much money to set aside and what to buy. You learn when you can splurge and when you need to stick to the basics. And you learn that it sucks to run out of everything at the same time.
If you thought the last section was the most about budgeting that you needed, you’re in for a surprise. Without a budget, you might think spending your normal amount on groceries and necessities will keep you afloat. The trouble with that is you don’t think about the couple bucks you spent here and there are a big deal until your couple bucks that week turned into $50, and then you need to get gas and pay rent. The next thing you know, you’re out of money, and it’s another week until you get paid.
Oh yeah, and don’t forget your mom’s birthday, Christmas, etc. Before you had bills, you may have been able to buy her that $40 robe she wanted, but after bills, your online shopping turns into the “under $20” section.
When you move out, your money disappears quickly, but it’s more important than ever to save your money. I call my savings my Emergency Fund, mostly due to the fact that my mom taught me the Dave Ramsey principles of money. But it’s a fitting name.
Three months after I moved out, I totaled my car and had to buy a new one. With my settlement check, my Emergency Fund, and a surprise gift from my grandparents, I was able to buy a new one a couple weeks later without having to finance it. If you take my Emergency Fund out of that equation, I would not have been able to afford a reliable car.
That savings still saves me in situations that I don’t expect, hence the name “emergency.”
3. You Have No Time
Between working, errands, and school, it’ll be a couple weeks before you realize you haven’t seen any of your friends recently. You’ll want to schedule time with them, but you and your friends are all busy and your free time never lines up.
The weekend comes and you look forward to not having time restrictions for a couple of days until you remember you’re out of food, toilet paper, and toothpaste. Running errands takes too long, but you still think you’ll have time afterwards. When you get home, you do have time, but you use it to clean up after your messy self.
If you don’t plan to do things, you won’t do them. You’ll tell yourself you’re too tired, or if you’re like me, you were around people all week and want to stay inside all weekend.
This is especially true if you have roommates because inviting people over is awkward, and the common area will most likely be occupied already. That leaves you with the options of hanging out in your room with nowhere to sit or you and your friends hang out with your roommates.
4. Don’t Live With Your Friends
When I was younger, someone told me to never let your first roommate be your best friend. It sounds like a good idea because you know you get along well, but that will all change. My first roommates were a girl I had known a little bit for a couple of years and her best friend. They met when they became roommates and then became friends, but it still didn’t solve the drama.
My experience living with two girls was not what I thought it would be. At all. We talked sometimes when we were in the kitchen together, but all three of us had very different views on just about everything. Religious and political differences aside, the biggest problem was that we each had different definitions of clean.
I thought my view was just fine: If it’s a little messy, it’s okay because I’ll clean up on the weekend. One roommate admitted she had a high standard of clean– everything should be spotless at all times. The other would let things get really messy, but she always cleaned up eventually. This would have been okay if we were just talking about how we each kept our rooms, but it was also how we each kept the common areas. Eventually, there was a chore chart, but that died quickly. To make matters worse, 3 cats and a big, hairy dog lived in the house too.
Sometimes roommate problems don’t end there. We each had boyfriends who would come over often, and no one seemed to get along with mine. Every time he came over, there was more drama. One of the roommates broke up with her long distance boyfriend and started dating a mutual friend of mine and my other roommate. You guessed it– more drama.
So when you move out, if you can’t afford a place on your own and need to move in with roommates, make sure it’s someone you feel comfortable with but aren’t close to. Because when you move again, you might not talk to them anymore.
5. You Miss Your Mom
Before I moved out, my mom and I didn’t have the best relationship. But the distance helped tremendously. First, the phone calls were “Mom, help, I’m trying to balance my budget and it’s not equaling out. Can I come over?” and “Mom, help, my toilet won’t stop running water, and I’m holding the float to make it stop. No one is home. Can you come over and fix it?”
Then the phone calls progressed to the point that I’d call her every time I saw her car on my way to work. She works down the road from me, so that happened a few times a month.
It’s to the point now that I hug my mom when I see her and tell her I love her every time I get the chance. She doesn’t have SnapChat, but she’ll text me her latest selfies, and I think it’s the cutest thing.
When you move out, you realize your mom isn’t the enemy and that she really does know a lot. She’s the friend you get to keep no matter where you go in life.
There’s a lot to learn when you move out, but it’s part of life. It’s hard, and it sucks, but it’s when you learn you don’t know anything and grow up a little bit. There are lots of ups and downs along the way, but the good news is that there are many people who have already done this that can offer you guidance.
What was your experience with moving out? Let me know in the comments!