Paying for an apartment includes a variety of potential strains on your budget. And when your budget is a little small to begin with, this can present some headaches. Luckily, there are plenty of tactics you can utilize to manage renting an apartment on a minimal budget.
Here are some basic starter tips for money-saving when you're a budget apartment renter.
Account for Your Expenses
This applies particularly if you're a first-time renter, but it's always a good idea to keep a running roster of your regular, monthly bills—beyond simply your rent payment. Apartment life will likely include payments for utilities, such as electricity, gas and water, in addition to add-ons, such as internet access. One commonly forgotten expense that, though not required, can save you major headaches down the road is renter's insurance. It's a super cost-effective way to protect your precious belongings, and it can typically be secured for a few bucks a month.
Downsize, if You Can
Some of the biggest expenses you can accumulate can include paying for storage, premium locations and space in general. If you have a small household and can keep your belongings minimal, perhaps you can make a smaller place work to your advantage. Studio apartments can run you a much smaller upfront cost and can keep your utility usage to a smaller minimum. Consider ways to make the most of your space, too—try out collapsible furniture to make a studio apartment more functional without having to pay for a two- or three-bedroom place.
Reduce Your Luxury Items
Sit down with a paper and pencil and list out the things you spend money on in a given month. Now put them into three columns—which are absolute necessities, which are useful and helpful to your daily life but not technically "necessary" and which are luxury items? These third-column items are expenses for entertainment, food above and beyond your regular groceries and other non-essential things. Consider how you can reduce these expenses—try downsizing your cable package or limiting yourself to two drive-thru or restaurant meals a month. These little reductions go a long way!
Strategize Your Workplace
One thing that can really add up in your monthly budget is transportation—do you own or lease a car, or do you use public transportation? Namely, how do you get to work? If you select an apartment that is close to your workplace, you can reduce the amount of money you typically spend on gas or bus fare. In fact, choosing something within walking distance of your likeliest of places to visit (i.e., school, work, grocery store, etc.) can take transportation costs out of the equation all together, save for some of the colder months.
Consider a Roommate
Depending on your living situation, it might be best to opt for safety in numbers. One excellent way to reduce your monthly expenses on an apartment rental is to introduce a second party. If you have some spare space and need a little financial assistance, find a friend, co-worker or family member with a similar economic situation who might find it mutually beneficial to live together and combine incomes. It's a good way to save some money while you search for employment or a promotion with even better pay down the road.