|Mandy doing her Maid of Honor duties|
My sister, Mandy, is moving into her first post-school pad this week. She found the place in a hip neighborhood in the city that's near her work and friends. I was thinking about my past apartments in Arizona and Washington, D.C., and what I wish I had known back then. I have the best roommates ever now, which makes life a lot easier, but it wasn't always that way. Here are a few lessons I learned from living on my own.
- Pay yourself first. Sign up for a 401K as soon as possible and contribute as much as you get a match for.
- Start saving now. Beyond a 401K, which is a long-term savings solution, you need at least two other savings accounts. Set aside $1,000 for emergencies so when something breaks or goes wrong, you're not in a panic. Next, set aside at least another $500 so that when a friend gets married, you need something like a suit or want to take a vacation, you have the resources to do so.
- Set a budget. It sounds not fun, but many parts of adulthood are. You choose your hard: what's harder, living within your means or having to pay someone else back later?
- Take care of yourself. Keep up-to-date with your dentist and doctor. You body is the only place you have to live.
- Find a way to workout. Closely related to No. 4, a little activity helps any number of maladies, from boredom to blood pressure.
- Pay for insurance. You may think nothing in your place is valuable, but when your apartment floods or someone breaks in, you'll realize how wrong you are.
My Tucson apartment
- Discover a passion - a hobby that you love. Living by yourself can be lonely. Figure out how you want to spend your downtime, because you can only watch so much TV.
- Always, always, ALWAYS lock the doors. It should be the first thing you do when you get in your car or in your home. Just do it.
- YouTube is your friend. Whenever something breaks, just search on YouTube. Chances are, you will find a video that will tell you exactly how to repair it for free.
- Give yourself a mandatory waiting period for big purchases. If you're going to buy something over a certain dollar amount, write it down and wait 30 days to decide if you still need it. Also, put out the word that you're looking for something. I was able to borrow a circular saw from a friend when I posted about it on Facebook, and found a dehydrator on Craigslist for a fourth of the price.