8. If you received $500.00 as a gift, you would most likely:

a. I’d take a look at my upcoming bills and try to get ahead by paying some off early, and save at least a portion of it.
b. I’d likely save less than half of it and spend the rest.
c. $500.00 will pay for that TV I’ve been eyeing for my bedroom!

9. You are looking to rent an apartment for about $700.00 once you move out. In your opinion, how much extra money should you have in your savings account, as an “emergency fund” before making the move?

a. Over $3,000. I’d want my emergency fund able to cover rent and utilities for at least a few months in case I suddenly lose my job or need to make a large, unexpected purchase.
b. $1000-$3,000. I figure doubling the amount my rent costs per month in savings will be enough to cover anything major.
c. Less than $1,000. If anything goes wrong, I know Mom and Dad have my back.

10. Do you keep a budget?

a. Yes, I decide in advance how to spend my money.
b. I rarely overspend but I don’t actually keep track of what I spend. Sometimes I wonder where my money goes.
c. No

If you answered mostly A’s: Only you can know if you are truly “ready,” but it sounds like you are on track to make the move! We recommend having an “emergency fund” with a minimum of three months’ worth of expenses saved up. This money should cover living expenses for a few months in case of job loss, emergency repairs, unexpected doctor visits, etc. Try to remember that as you’re just starting out, you might not be able to live like your parents are living now—start slowly and take saving money seriously!  

If you answered mostly B’s: Sounds like you are in the process of building the right habits for living on your own, but are still fairly dependent on your parents. Start out by “practice play,” where you track your expenses and how much you are making. A budgeting tool can help you visualize how much you are making verses how much you spend. Then try factoring in rent and other bills (depending on your situation) including a car payment, gas, water, electric, cell phone, etc. Before you leave the nest, be sure to talk with your parents or a trusted source about how they save and spend their money, and unexpected expenses they’ve faced that you might not be aware of.

If you answered mostly C’s: There’s nothing wrong with Mom and Dad treating to dinner, then a movie, then filling up your tank with gas, right? If this is a frequent occurrence, you might be more dependent on your parents than you realize. Before you think about leaving the nest, consider taking on some smaller expenses to get a better feel of how much money you’ll need to keep up your current pace of life. Remember, moving out on your own changes things and you might need to downgrade the space or lifestyle you are accustom to living. For now, set a short-term goal (4-6 months) of saving on a regular basis for an “emergency fund.” This will get you in the habit of consistently saving, and prepare you financially for when you’re ready to leave the nest in the future.

Megan is one of the new additions to the Finicity (provider of Mvelopes and Money4Life Coaching) team. She comes with over 13 years of experience in the Biblical Finances area. Her content has been published by Money Matters, Do Well and Lifeway's More than Living. She is a mom of two young boys, and lives with her husband David in the Atlanta area.

Publication date: June 28, 2013