My mother recently told me that I have to move out after graduating high school. What steps should I take?

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by kurt_e_clothier

Are you in the United States? The mindset of my answer is based on that assumption…

Stuff you need to be in possession of:

  • social security card
  • birth certificate (must be the original, copies will have watermarks) – you can get it at the court house in the county where you were born
  • immunization / health records, medications you take, list of known allergies
  • passport, any other IDs you might have
  • Proof of any accounts (like insurance) that your parents still plan to pay for you for a while.

Stuff you have to get in your name:

  • title to your own vehicle (transfer cost ~ $100, requires signatures of all listed on title)
  • auto insurance
  • health insurance
  • cell phone plan
  • any financial accounts (banks, cards, investments, etc) – you need to be the owner of the account, and make sure your parents are not “custodians” either. Speaking of which, once you have a place to live, change your address so your bills and such go to YOU and not your mom. Set up mail forwarding with the USPS to make sure you changed everything:

Stuff you need to survive:

  • Shelter – look for a low-rent apartment with roommates, or in a dorm if you are going to college. Don’t worry if it’s not fancy, as long as you have a place to sleep out of the rain, be happy
  • Income – to pay for rent, food, insurance, etc
  • Determination & grit. This won’t be easy, but you can do it.

Budget breakdown

Depending upon where you life, $500 / wk is enough to survive, but you don’t want to settle for that long term. My first apartment (in a suburb of St Louis, MO) was $650 / month + utilities, but there were much cheaper ones that weren’t as nice. This was in 2008, so I’d imagine it’s higher now, and you can eat healthy food even on a tight budget. You’ll bring in about $2200 / month…

  • ~ 20% tax. can’t get around that (legally) -> $1760 / month left
  • $1000 / mo for rent & utilities. Again, I’ll stress, FIND ROOMMATES. Utilities will include electricity, water & sewer, trash, gas (LP), & internet. You DO NOT need cable, netflix, etc. There is plenty of entertainment on the internet, and I’d consider that an essential utility today. Try to keep your cell phone plan in this budget as well, that means low data through put, and likely, not playing on your phone much. You DO NOT need the latest, greatest phone. The low end models do just as good. You don’t need a super computer in your pocket.
  • $200 / mo for health insurance. Shop for plans on
  • $200 / mo for groceries / eating out. Use coupons, go to cheaper stores (like Aldi, although they don’t use coupons), DON’T BUY anything you don’t need, never go shopping when you’re hungry or really upset about something. I don’t recommend eating out much at all.
  • $300 / mo for car insurance, gas, payments, & maintenance. Sounds tight? It is. Don’t joy ride, get a cheap but reliable used car that gets decent gas mileage (Corolla, FTW), and get minimum coverage. Don’t speed, don’t drive recklessly, and don’t do anything that will cost you in the long run. Actually, do you need car? Can you bike to work, take public transport? Will you live on a university campus?
  • Leftover – whatever you have at the end of the month, SAVE. You will always need cash for emergencies, fixing your car, buying a new toaster, etc. DO NOT buy things or go out to eat just because you have an extra $20 in your pocket. Save that for when you need it.
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Other Advice

  • In the US, you get 1 free credit report from the government per year. Read more information about it here:
  • Learn a trade – you don’t need a college degree, but you do need to know how to do something useful (plumbing, electrician, etc). You can take online courses for free to learn how to do other things like software. Check out:
  • Get a credit card in your name with rewards, like the Cap One Quick Silver. You get 1.5% back for every dollar spent, so every $100 = $1.50 back and you can set it up to automatically pay the credit to your account. Pay for EVERYTHING with the credit card that you can, but always PAY OFF the ENTIRE bill, not just he “minimum due”. Debt comes at you hard and fast, and you don’t have the budget to be paying cc interest.
  • Get an online checking account with no fees. I use with mobile deposits (take a picture of a check in the app) and no ATM fees. It also earns something like 1.5% interest on the bank balance. But also keep some cash locally, in a safe or something, in case you need it quickly.
  • If you have extra time, get another job. My wife and I each worked around 30 hours per week during undergrad, and then around 60 hours per week for a while afterwards. No time left to wish you had netflix. It sucked. It really sucked. We also paid off our college debt within two years of graduating.
  • Don’t expect handouts; put in the work. But don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends/family if you really need it. If your mom does love you, she would rather you live in the basement until you get your life together than be begging on the street corner and sleeping on a park bench. Don’t let your pride get in the way.
  • Stay away from Multi-Level Marketing (MLMs)
  • Take care of your body. Don’t eat junk. Get plenty of sleep. Don’t drink alcohol or smoke (you don’t have the budget for that anyway). Exercise regularly. It will help your mood and give you the energy you need to push through this difficult time in your life. Brush and floss your teeth. Sometimes health insurance covers dental checkup, too.
  • Don’t worry about dating. If something happens, than go for it, but you don’t have the time or money to be actively seeking that kind of companion.
  • Get your clothes / stuff from Goodwill or other second hand stores. Sometimes, they are even really overpriced, but it’s still better than full price for things.
  • Get 1 nice suit & tie, something that makes you feel confident and fits you well. You’ll want that for any interviews/meeting you may have.
  • Track your actual budget using a spreadsheet program. You will want to fine tune how much you have available for certain expenses.
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Remember, your goal is not just to survive, but to improve. If your current situation is unchanging and is unlikely to change, then you need to take a radical approach to restructuring your life. After grad school, I couldn’t find work in my field. So my wife and I sold most of our stuff, bought a truck & 5th wheel trailer, left our friends & family behind, and traveled the country on contract work. Sometimes, you have to make the hard decisions.




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