I only moved on my own a couple of years ago, and when I say “on my own”, I mean I moved in with my boyfriend. Now, don’t get me wrong, while it is a little bit easier to move in with someone, it is still a huge change of scenery, habits and, most of all, view on life.
1. Buying groceries is more complicated than I imagined
Who thought that the simple task of buying groceries could become such a horrifying chore? When I was young, my mom and dad were so organized and precise when going to the market, that the whole ordeal would only take them about an hour. However, when my boyfriend and I started shopping for food, we realized that we had no list, no meal plan, no clue where our “usual stuff” were placed in the shop and, most of all, we grossly underestimated the costs.
This is how, instead of spending roughly an hour in the supermarket, we spent double that (and then some), we were exhausted from all the different choices (should we buy this brand, or that? Is this healthier? Is this cheaper?), our cart was half full and, when we got to the cash register, we realized that we spent WAY more than we planned (keep in mind that, when we first moved in together, we were only making minimum wage, from which I paid my college tuition and he paid the gas for the car we shared with his dad).
Not to mention that, when we got home and started unpacking, we came to the shocking realization that we forgot to buy a lot of things we needed (like toilet paper) and we bought a lot of junk food, from which you couldn’t possibly make a meal.
2. It is vital to have a toolbox at hand
What is the first thing you do when something breaks in your house? You tell your dad and ask him for help. At least, this is what I did when I was living with my parents. The good thing is that, when something broke and my dad was fixing it, I had a never-ending curiosity, so I stayed by his side and watched him fix it.
I read somewhere that everything you learn will be of use to you, at some point in your life. And damn, that was true. If I hadn’t stayed by my father’s side, I’d be lost when it comes to any kind of repairing around the house.
And, since with knowledge comes responsibility, we decided we should invest in some sort of a toolbox we would have around the house. We couldn’t afford to buy a fully-equipped toolbox, so we started gathering items, here and there, until we managed to have a pretty decent tool set.
A few items worth mentioning are wrenches (super useful in the kitchen and bathroom), a set of screwdrivers (we found a great deal for a set of 30 screwdriver heads which fit a master handle), industrial duct tape (because you never know when you need something this powerful and, when you do need it, it’s already too late to buy it), 2 hammers (an iron one and a rubber one), a level(goes without saying), work gloves – trust me, your hands will appreciate it, and a heavy duty flashlight – we bought a LED flashlight, because we initially needed it for the car, but eventually, it remained in our house toolbox.
Back when I was living with my parents, I only had my room to clean and, maybe, if my mom asked, I would clean the hallway and the stairs. Generally, it wasn’t such a hard job, which is why I never thought much of it. But come the first year of college, when I moved in with my boyfriend, the story changed a little bit.
When that day came, when I was standing in front of the cleaning aisle at the supermarket, I realized I took it all for granted. I didn’t know which type of floor cleaner was better, I was perplexed at how many brands of disinfectant there are and, most of all, I wasn’t prepared for those price tags. It was a dark day, but I left the supermarket with a full set of cleaning supplies, one product for each surface or purpose, and with a heavy heart.
Later, I realized that there are products which can be used for multiple surfaces…
4. Cooking takes more than 3 eggs and a whisk
Let me tell you from the start, I’m not exactly a menace in the kitchen. While I may not know very complex recipes, I can make just enough to survive. That is, of course, if I’m working with a semi-equipped kitchen. This was not the case, when I moved in with my boyfriend. His mother didn’t really use spices, flavors, or appropriate pans and tools, so I basically had to start from scratch.
I’m going to spare you the gory details of how my face looked when I started adding items and how much they cost, so I will just tell you that we also took it slow, and gradually built up our pantry.
First and foremost, we needed a non-stick pan, preferably ceramic, because neither of us likes greasy foods, and this was a great way to ensure we would cook with less oil. We found one at a reasonable price, on sale before Christmas. While we were on that aisle, we also got a non-stick pot, for soups, and a set of cooking utensils made of plastic and silicone, because the fastest way to ruin a non-stick pan is to use metal utensils on it.
Moving on to the spices rack (I always wanted one in my home, and I always had one, when I was living with my parents – this is how I learned most of my “seasoning matching” skills. I knew we had to have some oregano, some coriander, black and red pepper – red pepper gives a whole new flavor to your food; also, we got the ones that came with grinders on top, because pre-grinded pepper is just sad and dull.
We also got some pre-mixed seasonings for chicken meat, grill and fish, because sometimes we are just lazy and prefer to take the easy way. We didn’t skip soy sauce, because I’m a fan of Asian cuisine and, when I get the cravings for some Asian rice, I want to already have the ingredients in my home.
Last, but not least, we got a bottle of olive oil (granted, we might have splurged on this, but the taste is clearly better), sunflower seed oil, apple cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar (if you haven’t tried it, do it – it’s a game changer), butter and… drum roll please … wine. Not for drinking though (that’s a whole other story), but for cooking. Honestly, nothing compares to a steak cooked in wine – try it.
5. Budgeting is a *must*, not a *should*
I said this before, in an earlier post, and I will say it again: budgeting apps are a lifesaver for those of us who are new to this adulting stuff. You may not need to use it for the rest of your life, but it is a great start to figuring out where your money goes, where your money shouldgo, and where you could save a little.
For the first few months, I didn’t use a budgeting app, and by the end of each month I kept asking myself “okay, where did all my money go?”. It wasn’t fun, and most of all, it was frustrating and anxiety-inducing, because I was constantly worrying if I had enough money to last me through the month.
The app I used was Spendee, and I chose it because it had a friendly user interface and it seemed user-friendly. Later on, when my boyfriend and I decided to have all of our money together in a joint account, this app was pure gold, because two users could share a “wallet” (in Spendee terms, that meant a shared budget), and we could both see all the purchases, sources of income and we could manage the economy fund.
While writing this post, I realized I have so much more to add when it comes to moving on my own, so I’m thinking I will write another post about this topic, in the future 🙂