You did it! After years of living under someone else's household rule, you finally have a place of your very own. A place where you can decorate, entertain and go about your daily business as you see fit - but before you tack up that first Gustav Klimt print, remember that along with this new found freedom comes new responsibilities (like not lording your art knowledge over innocent bystanders). With that in mind, here are few things you should know to help you get ready for living on your own.
- How to feed yourself
"Ha!" you say, "I've been feeding myself for years." While we do accept and acknowledge that you've likely developed the motor skills needed to propel food-stuffs into your mouth, that's not exactly what we're talking about. Sure, you know how to feed yourself, but do you know how to do it properly? Man cannot live on Hot Pockets and fast food alone. You'll want to at least be aware of healthy, cost-effective foods to temper your taco binges. Some things to think about:
Learn How to Cook Healthy, Inexpensive Meals
While frozen pizza and ramen noodles are cheap and easy to prepare, you shouldn't forget the health costs you incur by subsisting on items with nutritional values just slightly above salted cardboard. Contrary to popular belief, healthy eating doesn't have to break your bank, though. A one-pound bag of brown rice costs less than two bucks and makes about 10 servings, throw in a few vegetables and chopped chicken breast each time, and you've created a series of healthy meals for the approximate cost of just two Baconators. The internet is chock full of recipes based on simple, inexpensive ingredients. Pick a few that appeal to you (no DIY Baconator tutorials, that's missing the point) and use them as your go to meals each week.
Have a Strategy When Grocery shopping
The fresh -baked cookie scent wafting across the aisles and the cleverly stacked end displays of snack foods (Look, it's a pirate ship!) are just a few of the tricks grocery stores use to help separate you from your hard-earned cash. To avoid temptation, the best plan of action is to always shop with a list and make sure to stick with it. Be extra careful when checking out, those numerous impulse goodies are positioned to tempt you as you wait patiently in the inevitably long line. Don't give in. Tabloid magazines exist for no other reason than to keep you entertained in long grocery store lines in a way that doesn't involve buying candy. Stay strong by reading about celebutante cellulite and your wallet and waistline will thank you. Once you get your healthy bounty home you'll want to make sure you store food properly. Airtight containers are a worthwhile investment. Not only will food stay fresher longer, but also there's the bonus benefit of keeping pests out. Just make sure what you're storing needs the extra security. Potatoes, tomatoes, onions and garlic cloves do best at room temperature. Refrigeration can actually dull a tomato's flavor. Bacon grease should be stored directly in the garbage. The Great Depression ended a long time ago.
- How to maintain your domicile on the cheap
You've calculated how much of your budget will be eaten by rent, but be wary of incidentals. Gas, electric, cable and Internet bills add up quickly. To keep as much extra money in your pocket, you're going to need to learn how to keep utility costs down as well as learn how to be your own emergency handy person. Things break all the time and someone has to Tim the Toolman Taylor them back to life. In other words, you're Tim Allen now, act accordingly. Quick, do you know where your fuse box or circuit breaker is? We promise it will be a lot easier to learn right now while everything is on and popping (so to speak) as opposed to when the only light you have to guide you is the lightning outside (which reminds us, always have one of those hand-crank flashlights handy). If you're renting, don't let the landlord keep the location of your electric panel a mystery. While it could be in a bedroom closet or right next to your front door, there's a chance it exists in a common hallway or basement. Make sure you have emergency access and get a tutorial on what to do if you blow a fuse or trip a circuit. If you don't, you may find yourself eating the entire contents of your fridge in the dark. That is not as much of a good time as it might sound.
- How to clean your clothes
If you've gotten this far in life without ever having to do your own laundry, buckle up; things are about to get real. For example, did you know that socks don't come out of the drier paired and rolled? It's true. And no, you can't solve the problem by washing them that way. Also, if you don't already know that you shouldn't mix your reds and whites and wash them in hot water like a disgruntled roadie trying to sabotage a White Stripes concert, you shouldn't be wearing clothes at all. You're not ready for the responsibility.
Garment Tags are your friend
Those annoying tags attached to all the clothing you own have a purpose besides driving you to distraction with their itchy scratchiness. By law, all garments must have labels that disclose fiber content, country of origin and provide proper care instructions. They are there for your benefit, so use them. Most of the information is pretty self-explanatory. For example, if a garment can't be dry-cleaned, the label will state "Do Not Dry Clean." If that's math you can't do, consider moving back home with your parents.
Keep Your Home Safe and Secure Your Valuables
As renters, you are more at risk to be a victim of theft than a homeowner. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, renters are 50% more likely to experience theft than those who own their homes. We suggest purchasing renter's insurance and do the following to avoid becoming a crime statistic. Locking windows and doors is the most important thing you can do to prevent your house from being robbed. The U.S. Justice department reports that more than 40% of break-ins happen without the use of force. Don't leave your house without locking all the doors and windows, even if you will only be out for a short period of time. No matter how tempting it is to brag about your upcoming vacation, you're wise to keep your travel plans on the down-low. You don't want to alert would-be thieves that your house will be unoccupied for any length of time. Conceal Valuables
It seems like common sense, but make sure pricey electronics and jewelry aren't left lying around. Install window treatments that prevent outsiders from previewing your home's contents.
- Don't Leave a Spare Key Out
Why bother locking your doors if you are going to leave a key for the neighborhood burglar? If you need to leave a spare key outside your home, invest in a coded lockbox and don't give the combination out freely.
Oh! And congratulations again on your newly-found independence!