Disclaimer: I am not a finance person. I once took a personal finance class and sometimes did some of the homework for it. I grew up upper-middle class and went to college with an extremely generous backing from my parents. Essentially all I had to afford was shampoo and conditioner. So now that college is over, I am expected to be a self-sufficient person. Here's what I've learned so far in regards to transitioning off your parents budget onto your own:
Another Disclaimer: When I say "my own budget", that excludes my cell phone bill and car insurance, as well as a send-home traffic violation ticket, which my parents are still paying for.
Realize whose budget you're now on. When I was on my parents budget, I was used to going out to dinner and ordering whatever I wanted. Now I realize that that steak dinners are only for people that make real money.
Get in the right mindset. I constantly tell myself I am poor. If you remind yourself everyday that you don't have money, you'll end up saving A LOT of money. Even now, when my funds are not terrifyingly low, I still remind myself that I don't have a seemingly endless supply of money anymore.
Prioritize. This is the section that I take most seriously. Know what is worth spending your money on (think back to my earlier blog about being thoughtful with who to share your money with too). While I can tell you that giving priorities to your pennies is essential, I am giving out no advice on what those priorities should be, as mine are questionable. My priorities lie in consumption, fun, and being young. I spend no money on clothes or shoes because my priority is having money to go out rather than to have going out clothes without money to go out with.
Just don't buy things. This may seem obvious, but it's how I spent so little money when I moved out. I just didn't buy things. My headboard is from my parents. My mattress was a gift from my parents when they thought my free mattress was inhumane to make me sleep on. My bookshelf and cd rack is from the side of the road. And I haven't invested a penny past that for things that normal people may see as essential for a room, such as a dresser or night tables. One day, when the plastic containers and crates holding my clothes gets too tacky for me, then I might invest in real people furniture.
Coupons and happy hours (aka get a plan). I got myself a Kroger's card and now base all my purchasing decisions off of what Kroger puts on sale that week. My friends and I plan to go places where drinks are cheap at certain times on certain days. That way I can indulge, yet still remind myself that I am a young struggling professional now.
Enjoy it. Struggling isn't actually bad. We're all there, or have been. My roommates are in the same boat, and we paddle along with each other. We help each other when one is having a better week than the other and laugh about it when we're eating frozen pizza together. It's a bonding experience that reminds us we are independent young people making it work. It's fun to know I fund my own life and its exciting watching money going in and out of my account.
Life is exhilarating out here in the real world, even when it means your budget is the smallest it has ever been before.