BANKRUPTCY! It came quickly in the form of a virus, eating me up bit by bit in the first few weeks of moving into my own house. I was a shopaholic. I loved beautiful things and my taste was very high. The reality that I was going to be solely responsible and accountable for my expenses hadn’t dawned on me until I began running my own house. I became cash–strapped and things got quite bad. I couldn’t call my parents to help me out of my situation for fear that they would order me to come back home. So, it turned out that I had to carry my bag of problems alone. I began to trace the source of the problem and it all boiled down to the fact that there was something wrong with “ME”.
It is not hard to spot sisters who can’t take their eyes off their favourite things. Shopping malls, credit cards, exotic food in classy restaurants, latest movies in cinemas; the list may be endless for some. Fortunately, most of us get away with all these easily while staying in our parents’ houses. But what happens when we eventually get our own places? There are a lot of reasons you would want to live on your own; more privacy, more focus on your studies or career and you don’t have to answer to anyone. It’s your place so it’s your rules. You’ve started living on your own. The question is “how will you handle this big change?” You may think you know exactly how you are going to handle your finances and how you’re going to live or you might have no idea. Following these guidelines will help smoothen out the bumpy road that is often encountered by those of you who are living on your own for the first time.
1. Keep your expectations low
Living with your parents is not the same as living on your own. So, when setting out to start your own life, you have to lower your expectations. You can’t expect that you’re going to have money to pay your bills, get all of the food you want and still have money left for things you really want such as buying movies and going out to nice places all the time. Keep your expectations low or else you may be unhappy with how you end up living. You are going to have to make some sacrifices to live on your own. If you’re used to seeing movies several times in a week or eating out every night, you are going to have to give that up since you probably won’t have the money for it.
2. Create a realistic projected budget
It is very important that, to avoid financial breakdown, you need to draft a realistic projected budget. Pull out a pen and paper and make a list of everything you are going to need not just in a typical month but also throughout the year. Make sure you do not leave out expenses, such as your car expenses (including a car payment, money for future repairs and insurance), as well as groceries, clothing, utilities and even things such as medical and dental expenses. Do not forget to include your entertainment allowance.
Having calculated the total budget for the year, you may then compare it with your income. If your income is more than sufficient to cover your projected budget, then you are good to go. But if it is less, you may need to put things in order of importance. Take note that if you are finding it difficult to make your budget work on paper, then it will be even more difficult to make it work in reality.
3. Keep track of your finances
I remember the many times I had to look into my purse to find it was empty. The question I usually always asked was “how come?” This was because I spent money without bothering to know how much I had and how much was left. It is very important that you don’t get caught in the same web. So, the simple solution is keep track of your finances. It’s necessary that you always know how much money you have, how much you need to spend and how much you have to spend. Keep a finance folder or notebook and write down all the bills you need to pay and the amount you have to save for the month. You may then subtract it from your income to find out how much you actually have. You should also write down everything you spend every day. This way you know how much you are spending and whether you are starting to spend too much.
4. Get a savings account
As Muslimahs, one thing we need to remind ourselves of constantly is that nothing is certain in life and only Allah knows the future. You may have a seemingly stable job, but it may soon come to an end unexpectedly. So, you should start saving for a rainy day. If you become unemployed while living with mum and dad, you will still have a roof over your head and enough food to eat. But since you are now on your own, you may find yourself unable to pay your bills, unless you have a good-sized savings account that can tide you over until you find a new job. Therefore, it is advisable that you have at least five months of living expenses based on your projected budget locked away in a savings account before you move out on your own. The simple way to do this is to earmark a considerable size of your income for your savings account. This way, you will always have something to fall back on.
5. Improve your housekeeping skills
We are all naturally expected to have basic housekeeping skills as Muslimahs. Now that you are living on your own, dishwashing, cooking, laundry, mopping floors and hosting of other house chores will be done by YOU. This will increase your confidence in your ability to truly live independently and not rely on others.
6. Maintain a good relationship with your family
If you are presently on bad terms with any of your family members, this may be the best time to make up with him or her. Living on your own, when you are on bad terms with either your parents or any other family member, will likely increase the rift between you and them. You may not be able to see it now, but maintaining a positive relationship with your parents and other family members is really important. Remember what the Prophet r said about maintaining the tie of kinship and what happens to whoever breaks it. If you don’t have family, what else do you have?
O Allah, I seek refuge in You from anxiety and sorrow, weakness and laziness, miserliness and cowardice, the burden of debts and from being overpowered by men. (Bukhari)
Read: From Leaving Your Parents’ House to Running Your Own – Part 3
Wardah Abbas is a graduate of law from the University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria. She is a passionate Muslimah and a budding writer who believes in intellectualism as a prerequisite to change. You can read more of her writings on therosespen.wordpress.com.