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Getting Started After College

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Pocket Change

An increase in the average age that people are marrying is partially attributed to young people living at home longer than their parents did. In 1970, the median age for first marriages was 20.8 for women and 22.5 for men. In 2002, it was 25.1 for women and 26.8 for men, according to U.S. Census figures.

Money Pit

If you're considering a lifestyle change, be sure you take time to figure out how it will affect your wallet. If you make a decision based strictly on emotion, you could compound your woes by ending up in financial trouble.

It's a Big, Cold World Out Here

If you have made it out of your parents' house, you don't expect life on your own to be perfect. Still, you didn't realize it would be so much hassle. If living independently isn't turning out to be what you had expected, try to relax.

No two people want to live exactly the same way. Some prefer living with a group of roommates; others just want to be by themselves. Some follow orderly, strict schedules; others eat and sleep when the mood strikes. There are as many lifestyles as there are people. The trick is to find out how you want to live and how it's most financially feasible for you to live in that way.

If you live by yourself and are lonely or worried about your safety or your financial situation, maybe you should think about getting a roommate. Even if you have to move to a bigger place and don't end up saving much money, you may be more comfortable and happier living with someone.

If, on the other hand, you live with someone or with a group and are unhappy be-cause of that, it's time to start looking for your own place. You'll probably have to move to a smaller, less expensive apartment, but you'll probably think it's worthwhile to be able to live by yourself. Only you can know what's best for you both personally and financially. You must reach a balance between the two in order to achieve maximum happiness.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Personal Finance in your 20s and 30s © 2005 by Susan Shelly and Sarah Young Fisher. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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