There comes a time when you have to leave home.
Some parents are eager to empty their nests. Once their kids graduate from high school, head to college, or even turn 18, they’re ready to give them the proverbial boot.
But others are unwilling to let go. They allow their adult children to live with them for years, and keep them under the family financial umbrella.
Families are complicated, but at some point, most people want to strike out on their own.
It can be challenging emotionally, physically, and especially financially. So how do you do it?
Declaring financial independence
First, let’s define what we mean by being financially independent?
In a nutshell, it means that you’ve reached a level of financial security in which you can make your own decisions, regardless of outside factors. Getting there, of course, isn’t easy. And it often takes years, if not decades, to become fully financially autonomous.
But if you’re making the relatively small step of leaving home and simply striking out on your own, it’s much more attainable.
The step by step
Ready to take action? Here’s an annotated checklist that will put you on the right path:
- Have a source of income – Without a job, you’re not going anywhere.
If you are already working, read on. But if you need a job, start looking. Do what you can to attain a marketable and in-demand skill, which will help you get job offers and bolster your salary prospects. You could also look into starting your own business if you have the entrepreneurial itch.
- Save up an emergency fund – Before you move out, make sure you have some financial padding. An emergency fund should, ideally, have between three and six months’ worth of expenses, and used as a crutch when money is tight so that you don’t go into debt.
- Create a budget – Know how much money you’re making, and what your expenses will be. Be conservative, and expect things to be more expensive than you anticipate.
- Have the talk – If you didn’t tell your parents that you (or they) are on their own, do it. If you anticipate problems, give some notice. If you’re supporting them, they’ll need time to sort things out.
For context, nearly two-thirds of kids expect to financially support their parents as they age, according to industry data, and as many as 19% of millennials are financially supporting their parents, according to a 2015 study.
- Establish healthy financial habits – Once you’ve moved on or moved out, get in the rhythm of making smart and healthy financial decisions. Create a budget. Live within your means. Keep your emergency fund funded. And start saving for retirement and investing.
It’s easy to get started, and all you need is $5 with Stash.