There is a misconception about newly-graduated millennials. The older generations would argue that millennials are having the time of their lives: living with little to no care, going to parties every night and eating delicious, unhealthy food. Though that may be true for some, the reality for most can be stark.
For most millennials fresh out of college, finding cheap enough rent and a good paying job is like finding Waldo in Where’s Waldo: The Adults Addition. Cost of living in urban areas keeps rising and, with that rise, comes a deeper struggle. All in all, it’s a tedious and gregarious process that can often leave them floundering.
However, there is hope!
Not many graduate college with their dream job in hand and a six-figure salary. This means you have to budget! If you’ve already found a place to live, calculate your fixed payments (i.e. rent, utilities, loan payments, car payments, etc.) and whatever is left over is what will be used for groceries, extra activities and, hopefully, savings.
If you’re still looking for a place to live, calculate your current fixed payments and whatever you have available afterward is what will determine how much you can afford for living expenses. From there, ascertain how much you intend to spend on groceries—this may mean going out and pricing the foods you like—how much you intend to spend on extra curricular activities and how much you like to save each month. The remaining funds are what can be used for rent. There’s a chance you’ll come out in the negative, in which case re-evaluate what’s essential and what isn’t. Be rational.
Find a roommate.
Although it’s not the first thing a millennial wants to hear when offered the first taste of independence, it will save you in the long run. Finding a roommate not only cuts down on the cost of rent, utilities and groceries, it also permits additional time to save more and save quickly. That way the “delicious, unhealthy” nightly dinner of ramen is only a passing fad and not a lifetime commitment.
And, if all else fails:
Stay home for a year.
When in doubt, or out of luck, go home! You may dread the idea, but sometimes living at home for a year or more is the best option. Not only does this give you time to save funds and possibly pay a little more each month toward loans, it can save you the hassle of trying to find a place to live with a difficult budget.
Trying to claim or maintain independence after college can be difficult, and saving can seem impossible, but with a little finagling it is doable. First and foremost, budget. Make sure you know your debits versus credits and realize that some compromises need to be made in order to maintain your budget. Consider having a roommate. It doesn’t need to be forever, just until you’ve saved up enough to move out on your own. And, as a last resort, stay home for a year. It may not be the most appealing option, but you’ll reap the reward by saving those extra expenses.