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Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get when you open the box.

I don’t think that I really need to go into why that is both one of the truest things that anyone has ever said and why it’s absolutely wrong. Life, for the most part, is like the cheap boxes of chocolate you pick up at CVS or Walgreens at the last moment for a family member of close friend who will appreciate the gesture not so much the gift. Good boxes of chocolate have an insert that tells you exactly what each piece is and unless you’re part of the 1% born with a silver spoon in your mouth your life is like a five dollar box of chocolates. You can’t know until you bite down on it.

So let me demystify at least one of those pieces of chocolate, the piece that involves moving out on your own by giving you some real world figures for what you’re going to be looking at monthly. Mind this is going to change depending on where you’re moving to but this MAY be the thing that makes or breaks your monthly budget. If I had had this information before I move out I would have waited six months to a year and I’m hoping that I can spare someone else from that same mistake. Sure your parents have told you some of this but either didn’t go too far into what you should really expect or you didn’t listen because they’re your parents and that’s something people in their early twenties do. Our peer group is more likely to listen to a peer, so as a peer listen up.

Pull up a spreadsheet and get prepared to plug in some numbers:

1.       How much rent will actually be and plug it into the first column

a.       If you’re not sure and are doing most of your research online before going in person most websites will have a range of prices for studio, 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom, ect. apartments and find the average

b.      Prices change depending on the market so plug it into the spreadsheet and be prepared to change it if necessary but I’m going to use $585.00 for this example

2.       Determine how much you’ll pay monthly for high speed internet

a.       I don’t watch cable so I just got high speed internet from Verizon FIOS, we paid $64.98

3.       Factor in utilities

a.       Utilities in this case include water, trash pick up, recycling and similar services. Some apartments include this with the rent and it is important to remember this figure does not include power. A good baseline for this is around $75.00

4.       Factor in power

a.       Some apartment complexes offer power and some do not, my apartment allowed us to choose who we would get power through and we chose Green Mountain Energy. With three people who work at three different times all around the clock we paid an average of $135.27 monthly.

5.       Groceries

a.       Pretty self-explanatory, you can get away with about $100.00 a month if you can cook and eat well and not have to eat lean.

6.       Renters Insurance

a.       You’ve got to have it; most places won’t give you the keys until you have given them proof of renters insurance. Fortunately it’s not as expensive as it sounds like it should be, you can get renters insurance from Geico for $22.00 a month.

b.      You can also decide to pay a lump sum for the entire year but for this example we’re going to pay monthly

So what you’ve got is a math problem that looks like this:

585 + 64.98 + 75 + 135.27 + 100 + 22=X


Rent + Internet + Utilities + Power + Groceries + Insurance=  How Much An Apartment Costs


But this doesn’t include the administration fees to get the apartment which can vary greatly so you’re just going to have to ask.

Other things that you’re going to have to be able to produce are going to be pay check stubs. Landlords want to know that you CAN pay rent in hard numbers, so mowing your grandma’s lawn or other similar sources of monthly income no matter how much it is isn’t really going to cut it. Depending on the apartment complex they’re going to want to know that you make anywhere between 2.5 and 3x rent monthly after taxes and they’re going to ask for consecutive paychecks for a month.

So the next part of your spreadsheet is finding out that exact number so find out how many hours you work a week. If you don’t know when you get your paycheck or check stub, for those who get direct deposit, it’ll tell you in that part of the check that you don’t ever pay attention to. Depending on how often you get paid (e.i. monthly, biweekly, weekly) give yourself about six or so paychecks and get the average of hours you work a month and then multiply it by your hourly pay rate. That’s the gross total, you can either figure out the exact percentage of tax taken out of each check and subtract that to get the real number or just give yourself about $150.00 of wiggle room for taxes. Now divide that by how much you’re supposed to pay for rent.

So the next part of this new math problem looks something like this:

                Hours from Paycheck 1 + Hours from Paycheck 2 + …. Hours from Paycheck 6 = Y

                Y / Number of Paychecks = Z

                Z * Hourly Rate = V

                V / Rent = 3x Rent or 2x Rent


Now the last thing you need to figure out is how much you’re going to need monthly again, so go back at get that X figure (Rent + Internet + Utilities + Power + Groceries + Insurance) and then add up how much you’re paying for other things like Gas, Netflix, Hulu, Audible, Entertainment, Car Payments, Car Insurance, Health Insurance, Credit Card Payments, ect. Anything else that you pay for each month, we’re going to call this figure A.

Broken down –

                Everything else you pay for monthly = A

Now add X and A together and the multiply that by three.

                3(X + A) = How much you’re going to want saved up before you move out


Every other resource is just going to tell you what you’re going to pay for but will not necessarily give you real figures to work with and won’t have to fail first before realizing all of what you had  to be responsible for just to live on your own. Hopefully this has helped someone, even if it’s just one person.

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