Being on your own for the first time is great. The best part is that it's mostly acceptable to decorate and furnish your place with a hodge podge mix of furniture, dishes and more. I've been on my own now for about a year, and I must say I've learned a lot during this time. I've always been responsible - so I knew what I was getting myself into with bills and handling roommates. But now that I renewed my lease, I'm ditching these six items in favor of nicer counterparts to make my life easier:

1. Good knives. A good, solid knife won't just make cooking easier. It'll keep you safe. If you're reading this and think you can't afford a set of knives—think again. You really only need a good paring knife to start with, and if you want anything else, it's a good chef's knife. Having one good knife that you take great care of will go a long way. 

2. A nice cutting board. After you cook a delicious dinner, the last thing you want to do is clean your cutting board. You totally should for hygiene and safety reasons, but a good cutting board is just more sanity in general. Cheap cutting boards often start to stink after a while and carry tons of bacteria. 

3. Real cleaning supplies. Buying a decent vaccuum, broom and mop will make a huge difference in your Saturday morning cleaning marathons. Like the cutting board, good heavy-duty cleaning supplies will help keep bacteria and dirt away from your home. And good laundry soap will help save on energy bills AND protect your clothes from wear and tear. 

4, A good mattress. A good mattress is not an easy purchase. At a $700+ price tag, it's a lot to plan for. But I recently purchased a new mattress and can already say my quality of life has improved ten-fold. I sleep better, wake up more easily and have less lower back pain. (Let's be real, no one in their early 20s should ever have lower back pain.)

5. Renters' insurance. Okay, I already had renters' insurance, but it came in handy when a tree fell and damaged my lawn furniture. Most renters require insurance as a term of the lease, so don't try to cheat the system by passing it up. 

6. A programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat adjusts the temperature of your home according to your schedule - meaning it isn't heating or cooling a home while no one's there. If you own your home, definitely make the purchase. It's a little harder if you're a renter, but if you can talk your landlord into footing the bill, it'll make it easier for you and tenants to come. 

Photo credit iStock