I’m currently independent of my parents and am having a really hard time adjusting financially. I feel so lost!
I feel your struggle. I’ve been financially independent since I was 16, so I’ll empathize with you for a second and share the absolute honest-to-God truth: You may live off ramen, week-old socks and donated meal points for X amount of time. Sometimes, it really sucks, and always it’s going to be really, really hard. But the best way to survive it all is to organize and to get some hard fast wisdom (the way you would do Sunday night of dead week, sans Adderall).
Adjusting to being independent is hard but not impossible. Mindset and motivation are half the battle. Be confident in yourself and your ability to stand alone, but know that rewards and consequences alike fall back on you. Know the pros and cons of checking accounts, saving accounts and certificates of deposits. Buy a damn checkbook, and balance that shit (for knowledge AND for ’90s nostalgia’s sake). A credit card is both a blessing and a curse but often necessary: This great power comes with great responsibility. No spidey senses will tell you when your bank account’s about to overdraft. That’s on you.
There are tons of free resources for you to use and take advantage of. Community centers and city colleges always have financial budgeting classes, and the “Mint” iPhone app is seriously my best friend — even though I don’t like being called out for how much I spent on Alcohol & Bars/Coffee Shops.
But the best and smartest resources are the people whom you trust for advice. Ask older and wiser friends, professors, parents and The Daily Californian advice columnists for insider and common-fucking-sense tips, from investment ventures to holding balances over the minimum $2.50.
Money can be saved by spending on things that last — for example, Brita filters and bras.
DIY is COOL. Pinterest isn’t only for MILFs.
Don’t be lazy. Do your research: Refer to multiple textbook stores for every book, and compare listed prices.
Search for discount and promo codes before purchasing anything online.
Consider a timeline: Will that bike go on sale later? When will you actually use or need that extra “spare” charger? How long will it be until new Flyknits make me regret these ones?
Buy things in bulk but only if you’re sure you’ll need them. Be honest with yourself about the condoms.
Like any new Facebook-official relationship, your finances will demand time, money and effort — your time, money and effort. Recognize that shit just got real, so put in the work and reap the benefits. Never make the same mistake twice. Remember how good or bad minimum wage feels, and let it motivate you to take charge of your own life. No one can do it for you, and that’s a good thing. Put this relationship into perspective, and know that hardships can be worth any and all efforts that you put toward fixing them.
Noelle Reyes writes the advice blog. Contact her and ask her for advice at [email protected].