If you’re like me and 36 percent of other Millennials, you’re probably living at home or have at least considered moving back in with your parents to save money. After all, moving out on your own is even more expensive than you might have originally thought.
But if you live at home, be honest with yourself: How much are you actually saving?
You might not be paying rent or utilities, but that money ends up going to your nights out because hey, you’re in your 20s and you don’t want to spend time hanging around with your parents.
If you want to move out of your childhood home, there are certain things you’ll need to give up. It’s not fun, but it’s a lot better than living at home forever.
Here’s how to make the most of your money while you’re at home.
This is the most obvious way to save money, and also what people ignore the most. Yeah, it might not be the most exciting thing to do, but if you can get yourself to forgo bar tabs and eating out for a few months, you could be saving a lot.
For example, every time I go out, I have to spend $10-$12 on a cab ride if no one feels like being the designated driver, drinks at a couple different bars, and food when I inevitably get hungry. That racks up a $30-$50 tab each time I go out.
Find free events or volunteer
Of course, staying in isn’t always an option. Sometimes you just really want to get out of the house. If you live in a larger town or city, chances are there are some free events going on during the weekend.
During the summer, that might mean concerts, art shows, and sometimes festivals (although you’ll have to pay for all the food you’ll likely end up eating).
Or, you could take up running, hiking, or biking (if you already have a bike) and spend your days outside. That way you can get exercise without paying for a costly gym membership.
If there’s nothing free, try volunteering. Businesses want volunteers for everything from data entry to setting up events. If you have a cause you’re passionate about, chances are there’s an organization out there that wants your help.
Get a side hustle
If you want to get out of the house and make money—get a side-hustle. This can be anything from another part-time job at Starbucks, cleaning offices on weekends, or starting your own side-company/business—depending on how much effort you want to put in.
A side hustle can also help you move out a lot faster since you’ll add some extra income to your savings.
Set a specific time to move out
Having a set-time to move out can help improve your savings habits. Figure out how long you can stand telling people that you live in your parents’ basement and make that the date you plan to move out. This will help get you in the mindset to spend less or find other ways to make money in order to meet that goal.
If you aren’t motivated enough, or think it’ll be to easy too keep pushing that date, have your parents give you a move-out date (although, if your mom is anything like mine, she’ll tell you to just stay forever). It’ll make things seem more official if your parents tell you you’ll have to start paying them rent on a specific date.
Realize how much you can actually save
Calculating the actual amount of money you could be saving might make you pretty grateful that you have the option to live at home.
Everyone knows that renting is expensive, especially if you live in a city and don’t have a high paying job. Even those who make a decent amount have a hard time paying rent.
Let’s think about all you aren’t spending money on when you move back home.
First of all, there’s rent and utilities—that’s already over $1,000 a month you’re saving.
Food is another big factor. While you might be buying some of your own food, you’re probably not going out to eat as much because you’d rather have home-cooked meals. Or, if you’re like me, you just use whatever your parents’ buy to make a meal for all of you in order to relieve some of the guilt of eating all their food.
Without spending on groceries, meals out, and other basic things your parents provide you with (think kitchenware, furniture, etc.) that’s another couple hundred dollars a month.
Finally, there’s (most likely) internet at your parents’. Internet is expensive and something most people who’ve never had to pay for it take for granted. If you’re lucky you pay under $50 a month—so add that to the amount you could be saving.
If you don’t take all that money and spend it on things you don’t need, you could easily save up enough to for rent and a security deposit on your own place.
Settle for living in a crappy apartment
If you need to move out for your own sanity, you might have to re-evaluate your apartment goals. If you really can’t stand living at home, you’ll need to settle for an apartment you can afford. When you’re first starting out, that might be very little.
Realize that your apartment will be far from glamorous and you might even have to do without things like cable and even internet (I know, that thought is appalling).
If you’re the kind of person that has no self-control when you don’t have to pay rent and bills, living on your own could actually be better for your spending habits than living back home.
Living at home isn’t the ideal way to live after you just got years of freedom in college, but it can save you a lot of money. This does mean you’ll likely have to reign in your spending and refrain from going out, no matter how much you might want to.
But don’t worry, it’s only for a little while—the more you save the faster you can get your own place.