Last Updated on August 15, 2023 by Angela Vaz
Living alone can be challenging – especially if you are a single woman and have no choice but to live alone.
If you’re tired of living with roommates or are living alone for the first time, then there are certain habits that you need to adopt to live a good life financially and save enough money for your future.
In this post, I want to discuss how to afford to live alone.
I’ve lived alone with my two dogs for a long time, and it took me some time to adopt good financial habits, and I’ve learned most of them myself.
But before that really quick, get my free guide on how to really reset your life.
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How to afford to live alone – 13 easy tips
1. Know your net income
It is essential to know how much you earn yearly in order to set a budget or even start to educate yourself financially.
Knowing this figure will give you a good idea of how much you can spend and how much you need to set aside.
So, first, look at your salary and multiply that by 12 if you’re earning monthly or by 52 if you are earning it weekly.
Remember to minus taxes when calculating your income – otherwise, you will not have the exact amount you earn per year.
Once you have a figure, write it down on a piece of paper or an Excel sheet.
All your calculations will involve this figure now, so you should know how much you have.
2. Curb your rent and utility spending to 50-60%
You shouldn’t be spending more than 50-60% of your earnings on rent and utilities.
Utilities include water, electricity, gas, etc.
This means you should find a place for rent that is about 20-30% of your monthly earnings.
Understand what your fixed expenses are and keep a note of all this.
This will help you analyze how to work with the remaining money you have each month.
3. Cook your meals at home
Living within your means becomes very hard when you add food to the list.
We all want to go out and eat gourmet food all the time or order pizza or Chinese pretty much all the time.
But eating outside is very expensive.
And if you do it every day or every other day, you’re going to find it very difficult to save.
Learn how to cook your meals at home and meal prep for a whole week so that you can save not only money but also save time!
To save time, you can also do all of your grocery shopping on the weekend.
Remember to make a list of groceries so that you don’t buy more than what is necessary.
And allow yourself 1-2 cheat meals during the week if you are truly craving something unique.
Do not go crazy buying fancy kitchen equipment.
Pay more attention to quality than quantity. Invest in some sturdy pots and pans so that you can cook your meals healthily and for a long time.
Here are somethings you will definitely need in your kitchen:
- Stainless steel pots and pans
- A basic microwave
- A food chopper (to help you save time cutting vegetables)
- An instant pot (to help you cook several meals)
4. Adopt minimalism
Try to avoid buying things you don’t need.
Minimalism is something everybody should adopt. I spent a lot of money on books, stationery, and cups.
But minimalism changed all of that.
I even learned how to maintain a capsule wardrobe.
And this has not only led me to save so much money, but it has also helped me declutter my home and left me with so much breathing space.
Look into understanding minimalism.
Here are some books to help you understand what it is all about.
Minimalism has also helped me focus more on experiences rather than things.
This will help you live a better social life because minimalism teaches you to pay more importance to relationships and hobbies rather than items.
My entire life and perspective on happiness changed once I adopted minimalism.
Saving money was just an extra outcome I received.
Try to move towards sustainable living. I keep all my food in glass storage boxes because these are so much healthier and make your food taste great and last longer.
It also is only a 1-time expense.
5. Create a personal budget
I write down all my expenses on the Pocket Expense app.
It’s such a handy tool because it allows me to understand where my money is going.
Once you write down your expense, you can also select a category like (medicine/groceries/eating out/pets/etc.), and this will help you understand how much money is going to which category monthly.
This app shows you pie charts to see how much money is going into fuel, phone bills, etc.
Once you figure out your spending, try crafting a budget for yourself so that you can live within your means.
You can also look at your expenses and decide what costs you want to eliminate entirely so that you can live better.
For instance, I noticed that I was spending a lot of money on fuel and car maintenance, so I sold my car and travel by public transport now.
I even noticed that I spend a lot of money ordering take-out. So, I signed up for a meal delivery service that delivers lunch and dinner every day for a great value.
This will take a few months to set up and optimize, but this one habit of recording your expenses is a great way for you to save money and be able to afford to live alone.
6. Go digital as much as possible
A lot of my life surrounded books, paper, and stationery.
This was my weakness and I realized it is not only costing me money but also taking up massive space in my house.
I started focusing on getting rid of old sketchbooks, paper, and unnecessary clutter, and I switched to using my Notes app instead of physical planners.
I write everything I need to remember on my simple Notes app and I am so grateful for it because my life is so organized.
It is difficult to forget anything because I can always look at my Notes app. I use it for my personal and work use.
7. Invest in a good mattress
Apart from your mattress, you can get your furniture at local thrift shops or even buy it online -secondhand.
Make a list of the most important furniture you require like:
- A couch
- 2-3 chairs if you have guests
- A bed
You don’t need everything right away.
Keep your initial moving expenses and setting up costs low to use that money for other essential expenses like rent and food.
But if possible, do not compromise on a mattress unless your finances are really stretched to the limit.
This is because your sleep is essential.
The quality of your sleep will determine the quality of your work. And buying a good mattress is necessary.
8. See if you can get a roommate
Getting a roommate will help you share living expenses and bring down your overall monthly expenditure.
There are a lot of pros to getting a roommate:
- You will have someone to count on for emergencies
- Both of you can share monthly costs
- You can take turns cooking
- You will have a friend (if you are staying alone)
It might take some time to find someone who is compatible with your living style, but it’s worth looking into if you want to save on living expenses.
However, if you are extremely uncomfortable sharing your home with someone else, then you will have to look at your income and try to find a more affordable place to stay.
This will involve a lot of house-hunting and moving.
9. Take public transport as much as possible
Try to live closer to your workplace or see if they have work-form-home options available so that you can work from home and avoid commuting as much as possible.
Staying close to your work place will not only save you money but also save you so much time commuting.
You can cook and keep everything ready for the next day even if you’re able to save 30 minutes to an hour commuting.
So, think of your time and your money when considering a place to live.
Cars are expensive – there are taxes, maintenance, services, and overall, extremely cumbersome.
Try to use public transport as much as possible, and only get a car if the pros outweigh the cons.
This is a decision that you should make by yourself.
If a car is really going to help you out and you really need to move a lot, then you should get one.
10. Keep a limit on your social life
It’s fun socializing every day but if you live just to party with your friends, then it’s going to drain you physically, mentally and financially.
Learn to enjoy your own company.
You can live alone and not be lonely.
Socializing is expensive especially if you are going to restaurants, bars and pubs all the time.
There are so many other ways to socialize, have fun and still spend close to nothing.
Consider looking into making friends who love to communicate and talk about similar interests.
Think about playing board games – those are a lot of fun.
But most of all, know that it is possible to live in a big city and be alone and enjoy your own company.
You can keep your socializing for the weekend or a weekday.
My friends and I meet up on Wednesdays every week because it’s nice to take a break during the middle of the week.
Here are some more posts that you might enjoy:
- 45 fun things to do on a Friday night alone by yourself
- 45 fun things to do with your friends on a Friday night
- How to be alone (after a breakup) and not feel lonely
- 13 tips to remember when staying alone for the first time
11. Understand how money works
It is important to understand how money works in order to live in today’s society.
Unfortunately, schools and colleges don’t often teach this to today’s growing children and we need this information more than over.
No matter where you are in the world, understand how earning, spending and saving money works.
Here are a few books to help you with this:
Additionally, once you learn about money, stringently maintain excel sheets in your computer keeping note of how much you earn and how much you’re putting back into your saving accounts.
It is important to save for a rainy day.
You can never predict when an emergency can happen.
Maybe you may get hurt and you may need to spend from your pocket. Or your car might fail and you may need to pay for service.
Or your dog may get sick.
The possibilities are endless.
It is important to save for those occasions.
The time you have now to work, you’re never going to get back.
So, spend time increasing your savings.
A basic concept that not many people understand is that to increase your savings, you need to earn more than you spend.
Your credit cards are not going to save you if you keep putting your debt on them.
It is important to build your nest egg and avoid debt as much as possible.
Even if you have student loans to clear, try to clear it as fast as possible so that you can start building your nest egg.
You have to increase your savings in order to afford to live alone because you never know when you might need to tap into an emergency fund for yourself.
And knowing more about money will help you learn how to afford to live alone.
12. Focus more on experiences
The best way to live life is to focus on experiences rather than things.
Take it from someone who’s spent most of her life buying things that things are not the answer.
They give you temporary happiness as opposed to experiences.
Shifting from physical things to making memories with friends and family has been a wonderful decision from day 1.
I am still decluttering my house because there are just that many things to get rid of.
It’s so easy to buy and acquire new stuff but it’s hard to give it away or find sellers for your stuff.
You don’t really need all that much to be happy.
When you are free, focus on hobbies that personally give you joy and make your heart sing.
Or find ways to have fun without throwing your money away.
These basic life skills will help you learn to afford to live alone.
Whenever you are buying something, ask yourself the following:
- Do I really need this? How is it going to change my life?
- Am I going to use this 1 month or 1 year from now?
If it is a big spend, then I mull over it for a month. I add the item to my shopping cart and let it sit there.
Usually by the end of the month, I realize that it is not important.
There have been very few times when I have genuinely felt like I had to buy the thing.
So, take some time to think about your expenses and see how you can curb it down.
Freelancing equals freedom.
I was working long hours making websites for a living when I first moved to Bangalore.
It was a tough job with a meagre pay and it was tiring and thankless.
But I kept taking multiple jobs online related to graphic designing, coding, and slowly saved up enough to buy a drawing tablet.
That changed my life forever.
Once I had enough saved up, I was able to slowly transition to my dream job – drawing and illustrating.
Taking up clients and getting work online can make you some seriously good money.
That is why it is so important to work on your skills and so that you can earn extra money in other ways.
Once I had figured out how to make money online, I did several things including building blogs.
Keep freelancing and making money on the side. This will give you the freedom to focus on your side-hustle.
Side hustles are a great way to test the waters and see if you can earn a living doing what you love doing.
Once your side hustle starts earning enough money to support yourself, you can think of quitting your job and working full-time on your side-hustle or online business.
Starting and working on a side hustle is a great way to afford to live alone.
Frequently asked questions
What is the cheapest way to live alone?
Here are a few ways you can cut down on living expenses:
- Look at apartments or houses that have low rents.
- Find roommates so that you can share your expenses and save money.
- Cook your own meals at home. Meal planning and prepping is a great way to save money.
- Buy all your groceries in advance: This will help you stock up on your necessities and save money.
- Switch off appliances when you aren’t using them – Turn off appliances to save electricity and money.
How much money do you need to live by yourself?
Obviously, this amount will vary based on where you are situated and your earnings.
But if you can spend about 40-50% on your rent and utilities and have at least half of that left over for your expenses, then you can live by yourself.
Is it worth living alone?
Living alone gives you so much freedom. You aren’t answerable to anyone and you can do the things you like to do without question.
It also gives you so much time to focus on your wants and hobbies.
I can work late into the nights and keep the music on while I work on different projects. I can also meditate or read whenever I want to without disturbances.
It’s fun and I honestly enjoy having all these responsibilities.
I do live with my 2 dogs but the freedom I have is unparalleled.
Conclusion on how to afford to live alone
Living alone can be a really fulfilling and beautiful experience.
It teaches you a lot about life.
And living alone is the best way to learn more about yourself and become a better person.
I hope this post has helped you understand how to afford to live alone while still being yourself and having fun.