Kids moving out? This new book has everything they need to know!
Time to get the kids out of the house but don't want them on the phone every 5 minutes and certainly don't want to go over to cook and clean?
A new book by Anni Grimwade is full of every practical skill and handy tip that children finishing school or leaving home need to know. Moving Out! has 14 chapters covering topics from renting an apartment, budgeting, cooking, cleaning, and more. It is designed as a perfect gift for 18-25 year olds who are heading off to university or finally moving to their own place.
'I've always been very conscious of the number of things we try to teach our children as there's a lot to learn. One of my sons even said that he was never going to move out because he wasn't sure that he could learn how to do everything! This made me think that there's a need for a handbook with all the practical advice and information young adults need to live independently," Ms Grimwade said.
This 240 page soft-cover book is written for young adults aged from 18-25 years old heading to an independent life away from their parents.
It covers all those skills that parents have been trying to teach their children - how to cook something better than cup noodles and cereal, how to find a place to live in, and how to clean it, how to care for their clothes, look after their health, manage their finances and look after a car. A quick read of selected chapters will teach them how to sew on a button, look after a drunk friend, prepare a CV, cook a perfect steak and how to know when they really need to see a doctor.
Chapters include: Renting, Money, Jobs, Cooking, Health, Clothes, Cleaning, Pets, Etiquette, and what to do in an emergency.
Anni Grimwade has had input from a whole series of experts in different fields including a GP, a Vet, a rental agent, a retail banker and a dentist, and most importantly - mothers!
A Melbourne mother of three teenagers, Anni Grimwade trained as a physiotherapist, has a Masters degree in Business and has had a number of positions in consulting and management. She is a qualified cake decorator and teaches dressmaking to teenagers.
Author: Anni Grimwade
Question: What inspired you to write Moving Out!?
Anni Grimwade: There are two reasons I wrote Moving Out! The first is that I could see that all my friends and their children were outsourcing a lot of tasks that a generation ago would have been done at home. This included things like buying pre-cooked meals, getting someone to wash the windows, ordering a gorgeous cake for a swish dinner. But one thing that made me sad was that sewing was a dying art – people were paying professionals to do things like take up hems, sew on numbers to the back of football jumpers, and (unbelievably) kids were going home to get their mums to sew on buttons. So, I opened a sewing school for teenagers and it was so popular that I had mothers stopping me in the school-ground begging me to squeeze their daughters into an already over-full class. It was extraordinary and it made me think that it wasn't that people didn't want to do these things but that perhaps they didn't know how to. There didn't seem to be a resource that could be handed on to children to keep some of these skills alive.
The second reason was that my husband Tim had always said that our children had to leave home at 18. My youngest son asked 'But what happens if I don't know how to do everything when I turn 18?" It made me think that there's a lot we try to teach our children before they leave home (and about the same amount that they totally ignore), so I got the idea of putting it all in a book.
Question: What are your top renting tips, for teenagers moving out of home?
Anni Grimwade: Moving out is expensive! Don't just think about the weekly rental, but add in the cost of the bond, moving expenses, furniture and utilities and you'll be amazed.
A lease is a legal contract. Once you sign it, you can't change your mind because you decide to stay at home, because your friends decide they don't want to move out with you or because you find a place you like better.
If you don't have a rental history, see if your parents will act as guarantors. Happy landlord, happy real estate agent, happy you!
Choose your flat-mates carefully. Make sure you know them well and have similar lifestyles otherwise you can have a year (at least) of misery. In particular, make sure that they:
Can be relied upon to contribute financially as your credit rating might be affected by their late payments
Will contribute to the running of the house or flat – the cleaning, the shopping and the general maintenance
Have the same hours as you – don't live with a night shift worker when you like to have friends around for breakfast
Have the same habits as you – if you are a neat freak and they like to live in a bomb site it will only lead to unhappiness
Feel the same way as you about smoking, alcohol, illicit drugs and overnight visitors
Is similarly social – if you love a big chat at the end of the day and your co-tenant wants to be left alone, this can cause friction
And have similar feelings about ethical issues. For example did you grow up on a cattle farm and your flat mate is a vegan? Do you feel strongly about the environment and your flat mate thinks that all greens are loonies?
Read the condition report VERY CAREFULLY when you move in. Take photos of broken, marked or soiled areas of the rental property and attach them to the signed report when you return it to the agent, keeping a copy for yourself
Establish the ground rules with your co-tenants early on. At a minimum, work out how you will share money, cleaning and food
Get your own contents insurance – the landlord (owner) won't cover your computer or other valuables, even if damage is caused by a leak from an apartment upstairs. If you share one insurance plan with your co-tenants, remember this will be tricky when you go your separate ways
Use a connection company to connect your gas, electricity and water. It's free, they will guarantee the date that everything will be connected, you can choose your preferred suppliers and you avoid the prospect of moving in and living in the dark for 24 hours
Put a list of your agent's preferred repairers as well as your utility suppliers on the fridge. Don't lose it, as that'll be the day that the power goes out
Don't sign up for a landline or Internet plan that is longer than your lease (e.g. a 24 month Internet plan on a 12 month lease)
Keep your place clean. This is not just because it's nicer to live in, but you can get evicted if it's too dirty.
Question: How did this book help your own children?
Anni Grimwade: It's helped in several ways. Firstly, it provided information when they were out of the family home and I wasn't there or they couldn't reach me – it's like a 'mum at the end of the phone".
It provided a stimulus for discussions with my children which began with them saying 'I didn't know that…." All sorts of issues arose, like tax returns and budgeting, recipes and clothes washing, the safest colour of car to drive and more.
As a parent it gave me a greater perspective on the challenges that my children were facing when they were moving out. There are a lot of trials that our children will end up facing by themselves when they move out, and this book aims to address most of them.
It also normalised my children's feelings of anxiety and helped them realise that all people moving out face the same sorts of issues.
It gave them access to non-threatening and impersonal information about sensitive issues such as sexually transmitted diseases, how to look after a drunk friend and how to party safely. Talking with a GP or parent about some of these topics can be fraught. Talking about them with friends can lead to misinformation .
And surprisingly, my kids started cooking from the recipe book…while they were still at home… Yay!
Question: How did you decide what needed to be included in Moving Out!?
Anni Grimwade: I felt it was important to include information that 18-25 year old home leavers wanted to know, and information that parents and other professionals felt they needed to know. I did this in two ways:
I spoke to a wide range of kids including school-leavers, university students, my children at home and their friends about what they were concerned with and what areas they felt they needed help with
And I spoke to professionals who deal with 18-25 year olds in their work lives, including a rental agent, a GP, a dentist (and the Australian Dental Association), the head of DARTA (Drug & Alcohol Research and Training Australia), a vet, a florist, the head of the Monash Uni Counselling service, a retail banker, a panel beater and lots and lots of mothers!
Question: What advice do you have surrounding budgeting for bills and food?
Anni Grimwade: Budgeting for Food
Make sure you go to the supermarket with a list, and stick to it.
Make sure you know what is in your fridge before you write your shopping list, and try to plan meals so you use everything you have. Be creative and don't let food go off.
Don't go food shopping when you're hungry – the theory is that you'll buy more.
Buy home brands. Most of your basic ingredients (such as sugar, flour, butter, oil, tea etc.) are indistinguishable from branded items. Be more careful with choosing unbranded prepared foods such as biscuits and cereals
Do a budget and just take the amount of cash you have allocated for supermarket shopping and leave your cards at home.
Don't EVER buy water if you can drink the local tap water. Never. Refill a bottle and take it with you.
Make out you're at school again and pack your lunch. You can save $2000 a year.
Think about not buying coffee when you're out. (Relax – I only said think about it).
Have a go at growing vegies at home. Tomatoes are a good place to start but if space and time is limited, try herbs.
Cook at home, and avoid takeaway. Don't get into the habit of setting a routine such as always having takeaway on a Friday night.
Get to know the prices of things you often buy so you can tell where they are the cheapest.
Buy non-perishables such as toilet paper and washing powder in bulk if you can afford to and have the storage space.
Instead of going out for dinner, have your friends over for a -potluck' meal – everyone brings their own drinks and a plate of food to share
Make food presents for your friends and family. A home-made cake on a birthday can be more meaningful than an expensive gift, and jams and
Buy food when it's on sale and when it's in season. For example, don't buy your strawberries in winter; they're either hot-housed or have come from a loooooooooong way away and that makes them expensive
Make use of discount food stores such as NQR (Not Quite Right) – they have cheap food because it is near its use-by date or the packaging has been damaged
Limit alcohol. Yep, lots of reasons to do it and one of them is cost
Go vegetarian, or at least try it a couple of times a week. In terms of cost of protein, meat's right up there. Try eggs or lentils. And speaking of lentils, even if you're having a meat meal, if it happens to be made of mince chuck in a handful. They're healthy, bulk the meal out and are cheap
Your freezer is your friend – did you know you can freeze bread and cakes perfectly? Just make sure they are well sealed in plastic. You can also freeze cream, milk, butter and citrus fruit for use in cooking at a later date
Meat is also good to freeze. Buy it on special and freeze it, particularly cheaper cuts which survive the cold environment brilliantly
Go to your local food market at closing time to pick up some bargains – the vendors don't really want to have to pack up their perishable food to take home
Barter with your friends and neighbours – perhaps you could swap your lemons for some eggs?
Budgeting for Bills
Don't leave appliances such as TVs and computers on standby; make sure you turn them off at the wall. According to Choice – a wireless router can use over $20 a year in electricity, a multi-function printer can use over $23 and a DVR can be almost $60
Make sure you turn lights off when you leave a room
Put on or take off clothes instead of using heaters and air-conditioners
Shut windows and curtains, and use draught stoppers to avoid the need for air-conditioning and heating
Only do your machine washing when there is a full load, and use cold water
Don't tumble dry your clothes – it wears them out and the sun is free. If you don't have a washing line, use a fold up rack
Find a bulk billing doctor – you will save around $30 a visit
Think about not having a landline. It's old technology and getting rid of it could save you over $500 a year.
Try to go for a pre-paid phone plan so there are no nasty shocks at the end of the month. Always check the CIS (Mobile phone plans from all providers are now required to have a CIS (Critical Information Summary).
Get over your embarrassment and always ask for a discount wherever you shop. And be aware of any discounts you are entitled to at your place of work. Maybe your employer can get you discounts at particular shops, or give you cheaper insurance?
Interview by Brooke Hunter