Skip To Content
  • New Money Mindset badge

People Are Sharing Tips For Living On Your Own For The First Time, And I Wish Someone Had Told Me This Stuff

"You need to be emotionally and financially prepared for some serious 'oh god, this one time…' stories."

Living on your own for the first time is really exciting! But it can also be a little scary, or confusing — especially when you run into problems that you never even thought about planning for.

People moving boxes into an empty apartment
Professionalstudioimages / Getty Images

I learned so much in my first couple of years on my own. From figuring out how to even choose an apartment to fixing my toilet myself (thanks, YouTube), it was truly a crash course in grown-up stuff. My advice? Even if you *think* all your bills are set to arrive via email, don't forget to check your physical mailbox too. Most of your mail might be junk, but you don't want to miss an actually important letter, like a reminder to pay that parking ticket you kinda forgot about. Ugh.

So when someone asked Reddit for tips and tricks for a young adult living on their own for the first time, responses came flooding in. Here are some of the top comments:

1. "Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice from parents, family, or friends. No one expects you to instantly be successful at living on your own, and they'll most likely be happy to offer help or advice. Don’t needlessly struggle out of fear or embarrassment."

CBS / Via giphy.com

2. "A plunger and a fire extinguisher are better to have before you need them."

u/colin__mockery

"See also: some basic first-aid supplies."

u/helicoptordyktynski

3. "You're not going to clean it up later. Just do it now and get it over with."

u/admirable-ocelot

"Came to say this. Cleaning up a day's worth of mess is easy; cleaning up a month's worth of mess is the worst."

u/secure_perception758

4. "Meal prep and meal planning are your friends. Not only will this save you money because you won't be wasting the food you get at the store, but you'll be less likely to order takeout."

Person making soup at home
Gmvozd / Getty Images

5. "Everything is more expensive than you think it is and will only ever get more expensive."

u/piper_loved_that

"It’s all the little things you don’t always think of: paper goods, soap, common food staples, garbage bags, etc. You won’t buy them every time you go to the store, but you’ll feel the impact when you run out."

u/demurist

6. "There are tons of good-quality furniture available on Facebook Marketplace. Secondhand furniture of good quality is way better than some Ikea stuff. And it’s usually cheaper, too, sometimes free."

u/inevitable-ad-331

"Also, look into your local Buy Nothing group on Facebook. As long as you’re honest and polite, it’s a great way to get stuff you need and offload things someone else might need."

u/mokayemo

Note: I'm big on free stuff (I got the desk I'm writing from now via the free section of Craigslist), but it's also important to know how to avoid bringing bedbugs and other pests home with you. Dealing with an infestation can be hellish, so you might want to consider buying any upholstered items new, just to be on the safe side.

7. "Be prepared for expenses. Try to sock a few bucks away each month for emergencies. Even if all you can afford to squeeze out of the budget is $10 a month, DO IT! And don't touch that money unless it's a legit emergency. Needing pizza/beer/new video game/new clothes/etc. is not an emergency."

Person holding a jar of coins labeled savings
Natnan Srisuwan / Getty Images

u/123throwawaybanana

Note: Personal finance experts often recommend saving up enough in your emergency fund to cover three to six months worth of your necessary expenses (think: rent, utilities, food, and anything else that you 100% need in order to live). 

If you don't have savings yet, set smaller goals and work your way up to a full emergency fund. You might start by saving $5 a week until you get to $100; then, when you hit that goal, take another look at your budget, and set a new goal. Keep saving consistently, and even small amounts can add up over time.

8. "Talk to extended family and friends of the family. Many people over age 40 own an extra set of place mats, some towels they no longer use, and a few mismatched dishes. Offer to do chores and errands in exchange for their extras."

"Good cookware and bakeware turn up all the time in estate sales and thrift shops. Bring someone who can recognize quality if you shop that route. If you're on a moderate budget and you want to buy new, then two safe choices are cast iron and borosilicate glass. The XOXO brand makes borosilicate glass bakeware. Vintage Pyrex from the 1990s and earlier is also borosilicate (new Pyrex isn't)."

u/doublestitch

9. "If you are in a new area, make sure to figure out where need-to-know places are. An urgent care or hospital for emergencies is the main one."

u/lotsofcheesycorn

Note: If you're a pet parent, this includes finding a vet for your little pal before they absolutely need to go.

10. "Buy a can opener. When I first moved out, I didn't have a car, took a cab to Target, got a bunch of stuff including food (tuna, soup, canned goods)…and I forgot the can opener."

11. "Renter's insurance: Get some."

u/philemonslady

FYI, renter's insurance can cover replacing your stuff in the event of theft or a fire, and it offers other useful protections like covering a hotel stay if your place is suddenly uninhabitable. On average, it costs about $15 a month.

12. "Hang art and pictures to make it feel like home. You can get frames at thrift stores dirt cheap. Plants also add life to a space."

"And give a local friend a spare key, if possible."

u/b4rkingfr0g

13. "Don’t spend more than you can pay off each month on a credit card. Debt is suffocating. If you’re unsure about something, sleep on it. Not all decisions have to be made immediately."

Person paying at a cafe with a credit card
Jordi Salas / Getty Images

u/animalsaremyfriends

BTW, if you're not 100% on how credit cards work, I put together these credit card tips that we really should be learning about in school to help bring you up to speed.

14. "Get some basic tools. My dad bought me a very cheap tool kit and told me to buy only quality tools to replace them. I still have my super-cheap pliers and screwdrivers but have upgraded a few of my Allen wrenches and drill bits."

u/whyyesiamblonde

15. "Assume that things will go bad. You need to be emotionally and financially prepared for some serious 'oh god, this one time…' stories."

u/taste_the__rainbow

16. "If you can, start building your credit. I know it sucks to do, but a lot of things start getting easier if you can take out loans if you need them. The fastest way I got to 700+ credit was using a secured credit card, and taking out a joint car loan with my father."

some goober in mesopotamia invented agriculture and now I have to have a credit score, how is that fair

Twitter: @lolennui

"Secured credit cards are safe, and build credit with what you have. You put in an amount, and that's the limit on your credit card. If you miss a payment, they just take your deposit, and the card gets deactivated. Much easier to deal with than defaulting on a real card.

I know this is boring advice, but trust me, it's important. I don't like the system either, but I kind of need it to get anywhere in life."

u/killer10312

17. "Keep some medicine on hand. Nothing worse than having to go to the store when you feel like crap. And for the love of god, make sure you have working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors."

u/nawmynameisclarence

18. "Budget, budget, budget! You can save a lot if you budget well and then maybe have something left over at the end of the month for a little treat."

u/fats33

Note: If you've never made a budget before, don't worry — it doesn't have to be restrictive or painful. For some tips to get you started, check out what happened when another BuzzFeeder made her first budget with help from a financial pro.

19. And finally, "Enjoy these years!! Don't worry so much. Make and keep quality friends. Some of my happiest memories are of the times when I had just started living on my own in a tiny place with next to nothing. I had no idea what I was doing, but it all turned out. Trust your ability to navigate life."

Apple TV+ / Via giphy.com

Got any tips that we missed? Share yours in the comments!

And for more stories about life and money, check out the rest of our personal finance posts