DEAR HARRIETTE: I have lived with my parents while pursuing my college education. Now that I am about to graduate in May, I want to become independent as soon as possible. I have worked and paid for my share of the house during this time. My parents don’t know how to manage money and would certainly come knocking if they saw my meager savings account. How much should I have saved up to move out on my own? I have never lived alone before. -- Spread My Wings, Raleigh, North Carolina
DEAR SPREAD MY WINGS: You can keep your savings information to yourself. That is your business. It is good that you contribute to your family household, as you should, until you move out. Financial experts recommend that people have at least six months’ salary saved so that they are prepared for job loss for any reason. You haven’t started your career yet, so you will have to use different criteria. Look for an apartment in the area where you want to live. How much is the rent? Electricity? Your cellphone? Wardrobe needs? Food? Itemize whatever you imagine you have to spend monthly in order to live independently. If possible, save up six months’ worth of that before you leave home. Obviously, you want to have a job, too. When you do leave, thank your parents for their generosity and loving support. If you ever are able to help them financially, by all means do so. Remember how much they have done for you, and be generous.