For the past two years, I have lived rent-free at home whilst studying at university. This is something that I’m aware makes me incredibly lucky. I decided to move back home after two months in halls, and returned to a loving, welcoming family, happy to accommodate whatever I chose to do and support me through it. I bought a car to enable me to maintain my independence, and have since then been living without the worry of rent, bills, or an empty fridge. This is something that I’m only just beginning to fully appreciate, because next month I move out again, and move into a flat with my boyfriend. I still have one year left of university, have a part-time job where I’m grabbing as many shifts as possible, and have been doing all sorts of maths for the first time in years with multiple budget planners. The result – realistically, this is going to be a tight squeeze to be able to afford living independently.
I never wanted an overdraft. I thought they were dangerous, provided a false sense of security, and enabled students to live beyond their means. As such, I live off my student loan and sporadic earnings from my job (which can vary from £100 to £500 a month). My budget is telling me that shelling out at least £450pcm for rent and bills is going to be doable, but will leave me little to no room for socialising, emergencies, or extras. So, logically, I probably should stay at home for this final year, and wait till my earnings increase come graduation before moving out. Right?
For the first time in my life, I’ve decided that logic is wrong. I’ve always been safe, never risking much in life, staying comfortable. I’ve had a direct debit into a savings account since I was 16 and have dipped into it as sparingly as possible. But from the beginning of the summer, my attitude to money changed. With the opportunity to hike up Mount Kilimanjaro, all money worries vanished and all I saw was the chance of a lifetime to build amazing memories, friendships, and discover more of myself. Money facilitated that, and as such I’ve drained all my savings and pretty much started from zero again last month.
And so I have decided – it is the right time in myself to move out. It is opportune as my boyfriend has just a month left in his current lodgings, and I’ve managed to nab just enough shifts to tilt my budget planner from yellow to green (oh the joys of cell formatting!). It might not be as wise as waiting, saving, and being comfortable. But it’s a choice that every adult faces at least once, and it’s one that I’m willing to risk on. I’m not frivolous; I’m not expecting a palatial penthouse filled with beautiful things. But it’ll be my space, my first step towards true independence, and a wonderful welcome into what I can enjoy after graduation. I still value money as an amazing commodity, which can ensure security and help eliminate any nasty surprises that can leave you in real trouble. But it’s also a facilitator – it allows you to explore, enjoy life, and do amazing things. That, I’m beginning to believe, is far more important.