As we approach the first day of school at universities across the nation, more students are becoming aware of the fact that they will soon be responsible for the bulk of their own living expenses. Those of us who tried to guess our potential living costs prior to taking the leap and moving out on our own probably know that those estimates fell a bit flat when the first bill came and reality hit.
If you’re currently in the process of moving out on your own, there are some cool tech tools available that can help you come up with more accurate estimates for the expenses you will need to budget for after making your move. Check out the following tech tools and tips to help you ease into living life away from home.
1. Cost of living calculator
A solid first step in identifying potential living costs could be to understand the average cost of living in the city where you’re planning to make your move. Even if you’re moving from a suburb of the city you plan to move to, costs could vary greatly due to market demand. To get a better idea of what your expenses might look like, I recommend running your information through a cost of living calculator.
This will help you get a general number in mind before you dive deeper into more personalized estimate tools.
2. Utility cost calculator
Utilities are an essential cost no matter who you are or where you move to. This is why calculating costs for things like water, gas, and electricity prior to leaving the nest is an important step in determining what your monthly spending will look like. Utility costs vary depending on the time of year, your intended usage, and where you live. Smart energy habits like moderately setting AC and heat settings and turning off lights when you leave a room can help, but it can still be tough to control how much you will be spending.
You can use a utility cost calculator to calculate the average cost of electricity in your home based on the information you provide about your location, usage, and number of people in the household.
3. Insurance calculation tools
Renter/home insurance is not only an important part of protecting your home but also required by most rental situations and necessary to secure a loan for purchasing a home. Although the cost of insuring your home is usually pretty low, it’s worth your while to at least get an estimate for the service that you can figure in to your estimated living costs. If leaving the home means you’ll also be required to pick up your auto insurance, you’ll want to factor in costs for that as well. Fortunately, most insurance companies allow you to bundle home/renter insurance with your car insurance plan.
To determine how much your insurance might cost you per month, you can use an insurance calculator to determine your potential needs based on the coverage your specific situation requires.
4. “Should you cut the cord?” Tool
Internet and cable are likely to yield the highest monthly cost of all of your bills. Some rental situations will require that you sign up for their preferred cable/Internet package, but if you have an option, you might want to consider cutting the cord on cable. Depending on the cost of cable and the services you’d like to sign up for in its place, sticking to Internet alone could save you some money.
You’ll want to call the Internet/Internet and cable providers in your area to get quotes. Calling will give you a more accurate quote of what your price per month would be as most companies end up charging a different price than they advertise online. Once you have price points for your Internet and your potential cable services, plug this information into a cord cutting calculator to determine whether or not cutting the cord would be your best option.
5. Gas Buddy
Another monthly expense you’ll want to figure in to your overall spending is gas. Although it can be difficult to predict exactly how much you’ll be driving/spending on fuel, a rough estimate can help you at least get an idea of how much you will be spending on your daily commute to work and school in a new town. You can use apps like Gas Buddy to generate fuel cost estimates for the routes you will be taking regularly. This will help you get a better idea of how much you should add to your monthly expenses in terms of fuel.
6. Numbeo food cost calculator
The amount you’ll be spending on food each month might surprise you. Although $40 here and there at the grocery store doesn’t seem like much, it all adds up. To get a better idea of how much you might be spending on food, run your information through Numbeo’s food cost calculator. Although it won’t be completely accurate as your dietary preferences will more than likely differ from the default groceries selected, it can offer a good range of what you might expect your spending to look like based on the national average.
7. Level Money App
Once you have all of your estimated numbers for monthly bills, use the Level Money app to add them up and compare them against your monthly income. From here, the app will generate a monthly budget that can guide your financial decisions for budgeting expenses for things like entertainment, leisure, and shopping.
Hopefully these tips will help you get a better idea of what your monthly expenses will look like when you move. If you have questions or perhaps a tip for other readers, comment below!