How To Survive Moving Out On Your Own

How do people afford to live alone? It’s one of the many hesitations I hear when someone ponders about moving out of their parents’ house. The rule of thumb is to not leave the nest unless you have enough savings and a stable income. But I understand there are myriad of reasons that could push us out of the house before we even set up a solid financial foundation. Some reasons may include:

  • Toxic relationships.
  • Quarrel in the family.
  • Boundary issues.
  • Growing family.
  • Health problems.

Thanks to God, the first time I left home wasn’t because of these matters. I generally have a healthy relationship with my parents. But that perhaps is the problem. My relationship with them may have been too healthy; I became overly dependent on them. Everything I need is being met by mom and dad, and I felt like I was not growing as a person. I see myself getting married in two or three years, yet I still didn’t know how to live on my own.

It was after my twenty-eighth birthday when I decided to leave home. I didn’t have anything when I moved out except my struggling business. There were no plans of coming back, but I returned home after six months because I could no longer sustain myself financially. It was short, but I learned many lessons from the experience.

Fast-forward, I’m now thirty-seven, and I have been living away from home with my wife and children for three years. In this post I intend to share with you the game plan my wife and I had to successfully move out and survive living on our own.

Disclaimer: I wrote this post based on personal opinions and experiences. It’s not meant to give professional advice.

Grey Hatchback Car in the forest
Grey hatchback SUV driving on a street full of dried leaves.

Opportunity Cost

How do most people go broke? By saying yes all the time! To appreciate the strategy I’m about to tell you, you need to understand the idea of opportunity cost. It’s among the most profound lessons I have learned when I lived on my own for the first time. It simply means the choices we make aren’t free. When we say yes to one thing, we are technically saying no to another; and vice-versa. When you agree to go out with your friends tonight, you will be losing on other opportunities like: Having a nice dinner with your family, story time with the kids, doing extra work, or getting in bed early.

It’s the same with our finances. Getting the latest smartphone means we have less money to save, to invest, or to buy the things we need. Being aware and being able to apply the concept of opportunity costs in our life is crucial, especially when we are in survival mode. The margin of error is slim, thus focusing on choosing the options that will improve our survivability is the key to surviving living on our own.

Turtle-Up And Farm

Now let’s go to the overarching strategy: Turtle-up and farm. If you are a gamer, I’m sure you’ll have no trouble grasping this tactic. For non-gamers, I’ll do my best to make this as simple as possible.

Turtle-up is the term my friends and I use in gaming when our health is low. It simply means going into a defensive mode. Imagine you are only one hit away from game over, what will you do? One strategy is to stay in one corner and shoot the enemy when they pass by. Another way is to flee or hide from the high-level enemies and focus instead on the weak ones. The essence behind this tactic is to stay on the game as long as possible while you farm.

Farming is the act of strengthening your character. You do this by defeating lots of weaker enemies to get experience and gold that are used to level-up and upgrade your weapons. I hope you now see where this plan is going. The strategy to survive on your own is to stay defensive while you work your way towards improving yourself little by little.

We should focus our choices more on the things that will keep us on the game and personal growth. Forgo anything that does not contribute to this mission. Now how do we apply this practically? Let’s talk about it in the next section.

Girl with glasses studying on the floor with her laptop, books, and coffee.

Practical Ways To Turtle-Up

Simplify your lifestyle

The cheapest way to live alone is to manage your desires. Simplifying your lifestyle means you focus on the essentials. Track where your money is going and cut those that aren’t necessary. Delay your wants. Concentrate on your needs. Choose only to spend on what will increase your character’s health. One Bible verse summed this up beautifully:

“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.” — Isaiah 55:2 ESV

Here are some things Lalaine and I gave up when we moved out on our own:

  • Junk food and sugary beverages.
  • Watching movies in theaters.
  • Netflix and other TV-related subscription services.
  • Home decorations.
  • Eating in eat-all-you-can buffets.

I wrote about this more in detail in a separate post. You can check it out here: Assets and Liabilities. To be fair, simplifying our lives doesn’t mean we should deprive ourselves. Having fun is also essential. Just do it moderately. Maybe 90% needs, 10% wants.

Save Ten To Twenty Percent Of Your Income

Overconsumption is a poor way of living. Many people are stuck in 9 to 5 jobs because they don’t have enough margin. One hit, and they’re dead. Living paycheck to paycheck is normal to many individuals, but it isn’t the situation you want to be in. Another practical way to turtle-up is to save ten to twenty percent of your income. This helps you prepare for emergencies or secure profitable opportunities.

The Bible says in Proverbs 21:20, “Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it.” You need to build a cushion if you want to survive living on your own. You want to have that extra health potion in your belt when you go into enemy territory to increase your chances of success – and the way to do this is manage your consumption.

Pay Your Bills On Time

Believe it or not, paying your bills on time is another way to defend yourself. Late payments will cost you added charges from penalties. It’s like giving your enemies the ammo to shoot at you. If you always end up feeling broke, check how much interest you are paying, especially on credit cards.

Be vigilant of any obligations that cost you to pay extra recurring fees each month. This is like being poisoned by your enemy. Your character’s health will slowly dwindle until it dies. You can drink more health potions, but it will only be a waste of resources as your health will continue to go down until you find a remedy. Paying off your debts and paying your bills on time are the two most powerful antidotes to this type of venom.

Three happy students in a library carrying a bunch of paper materials.

Practical Ways To Farm

Don’t Compare

Farming may feel like you are a loser. Waiting for the weaker enemies to come while you see other players being aggressive is like looking at your friends’ new cars and travel photos on Instagram. How come he already has five cars and I can’t even afford to buy one? She travelled again?! Didn’t she just come home from Japan? Poor me, I can’t even go on a local trip!

I feel you. That’s my internal monologue many years ago. But you should defend yourself from this mentality. Focusing on others is detrimental to our overall strategy. Comparison will discourage us from playing the game. Surviving on our own takes time and patience. Winning is not yet the goal, staying in the game and bettering ourselves is. As long as you are playing the game, you still have the chance to eventually win.

This is what the book, The Tortoise And The Hare, taught me. The tortoise didn’t care how far the hare was. He didn’t even know whether his opponent had already won or not. He just stayed in the game and moved forward according to his pace.

What to do if you are feeling poor? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Be grateful for what you have now. What you appreciate, appreciates.
  • Look back and celebrate how far you’ve come.
  • Share your loot. Be generous.
  • Keep working, work is always part of the equation.
  • Compare down. See how blessed you are.

Get A Second Job

In most games there’s what we call the main quests and the side quests. You beat the game when you complete all the main quests. But that doesn’t mean side quests aren’t important. It’s in the side quests where you usually unlock special items and abilities that can aid you in finishing the main quest.

Treat farming as a side quest. Be involved in something that will contribute to your main quest.

I love writing. I am excited about the idea of being able to support my family through publishing articles. Becoming a full-time blogger is my “main quest.” But a blogging business takes a significant amount of time to build, and it’s not even a guarantee I will succeed. Being aware of my risks, I took on a side-quest. I started an online business where I sell Chromebooks, and this allowed me to continue writing and put food on the table at the same time. By the way, I highly recommend you to check out SpreadSimple if you are also considering opening your own e-commerce site.

What are good side hustle jobs? Below are a few ideas:

  • Buy and sell online.
  • Rent out unused space on Airbnb.
  • Do freelance work on Fiverr.
  • Make a course about something you are good at on Udemy.
  • Publish and sell your own e-book with Designrr.

If you want to start a business but have no ideas, I highly recommend you check out this post: How To Start A Business With No Idea (A 4-Step Guide)

Learn The Necessary Skills

We learn new skills as we level up. But not all skills are equal. Some have a better impact on your main quest than the others. Remember opportunity cost? It’s much more shrewd to spend time honing three to five skills than learning ten that do not really have much contribution to your goal. Here are five essential skills you need to focus on:

  1. Cooking. Cooking? Yes, cooking. Food is one of the biggest cost of living expenses for most people I’ve talked to. When you learn how to prepare your own meal, or make your own coffee, you will be cutting your food costs by about 30% to 40%.
  2. Selling. Many people are afraid of sales. I also used to hate this job. But if you want to make good and quick money, you should learn how to sell.
  3. Financial management. Making money is useless if you don’t know how to manage them. You’ll only spend everything you’ve earned.
  4. Truthfulness. Based on the book, The Millionaire Mind by Thomas J. Stanley, integrity or being honest and truthful is the number one factor to success. Good things happen when people trust you.
  5. Social skills. We need people to succeed. We cannot do this on our own. Learning how to talk and work with others is vital to our success.

Team-up With People You Trust

We mentioned social skills. One strategy that could speed up our farming process is to team up with other players. Teaming up will allow us to defeat tougher enemies or complete a more challenging quest which in return can give us a much higher experience and better quality equipment. There are several ways to do this, such as being plugged into a community, partnering with a friend, or getting married. But please note that teaming-up with others does not always go well. It’s better to move forward alone than be with people you don’t trust.

Is being single harder financially? Technically, it should be easier in your pocket living on your own. But based on experience, my finances got better in marriage. And this is also true based on the data Thomas J. Stanley gathered after interviewing one thousand American millionaires. They said 92% of them are married, and having a supportive spouse is among the top 5 factors for their financial success.

Related: How Can Family Life Impact Work?

Closing Thoughts

Understanding opportunity costs, being defensive, and improving ourselves each day will help us survive moving out on our own. But there’s another practice we should not forget. It’s prayer. In the game, this can be considered “Luck”.

Many people underestimate the power of luck in the game. They prefer to level-up strength, agility, or their durability. But luck is the x-factor in developing your character. The higher the luck, the better your chances of hitting critical damages, evading attacks, or even getting ultra rare weapons and items. I personally do not believe in luck in real-life. My belief is there is a God who loves me and is in control of everything. As long as I am being in fellowship with Him, there is nothing I have to worry about.

More From The Learning Dad Blog

Jed Chan

Jed Chan is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to providing helpful resources on fatherhood. He is a passionate learner who would normally immerse himself in topics of his interest. Jed carefully studied the subjects of finance, e-business, and parenting before becoming a full-time stay-at-home dad.

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