Being a renter is a great opportunity for those who know how to take advantage of it. Specifically, the flexibility and freedom it allows can really help one save money consistently and significantly.
To that end, there are many points in the rental process in which you could save some extra money. Today, we’ll cover four of those: browsing and finding an apartment; negotiating rent and discussing with your landlord; the moving process; and actually living in the apartment.
Finding an Apartment
When browsing for an apartment, prioritize your needs first and let go of your wants. In particular, think about what’s essential and what would be a deal-breaker — as opposed to what you can live without or overlook. For instance, the location and size of the apartment are two areas where you need to know exactly what you need. You can also use a rent calculator tool to determine your optimal rent.
Likewise, if you’re working remotely, take advantage of that and rent somewhere with lower prices. Or, if you rent alone, consider a smaller apartment. Downsizing in this way can allow you to reduce your housing budget and redirect the rest toward savings.
Also, while you’re looking for your next home, be wary of scammers. Unfortunately, many people are taking advantage of social distancing regulations and promoting fraudulent listings, which are usually at unbelievably low prices. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Educate yourself on the different types of rental scams and how to best avoid them so as not to lose money.
After you’ve found the perfect fit for you and your budget, it’s time to discuss it with your landlord. First, make sure you’re on the same page by asking questions regarding all of the fees and expenses you’re expected to pay. Discuss what type of damage would result in losing your security deposit, as well as the penalties for breaking the lease. And, put it all in writing so that you both have a reference point, should you need it.
Next, start negotiating your rent. Often, if you might be staying for a longer period of time, you may be able to get a better deal for a longer lease. While this may take away some of the flexibility of being a renter, it could be worth it if you can secure a lower monthly rent.
Then, for the actual moving process, make sure you’re all decluttered before packing and moving. This is a great opportunity for a fresh start. Go through all of your belongings and keep only what you regularly use and need, which will result in fewer boxes. You might even realize that you don’t need a moving company, either.
However, if you do—especially for moving furniture—schedule your move for the middle of the week, rather than on the weekend. That’s because they’re usually busiest on the weekends and, consequently, prices are likely to be higher. Likewise, if you have flexibility as far as the time of year in which you move, the fall months are typically best.
Living in the Apartment
After you’ve moved into your new home, create a budget and establish a dedicated savings account to contribute to every month. But, don’t just rely on what’s leftover. Instead, make saving an active part of your financial practices.
Second, be mindful of your consumption in order to lower the cost of your utilities. If possible, invest in a smart thermostat. Or, simply keep the overall temperature a bit higher during the summer months and lower during the winter months to minimize your electricity and gas consumption. Similarly, switch to LED lightbulbs and unplug appliances that you’re not using, which passively consume energy. While there are many ways to cut down on utility bills, establishing these habits will make it effortless.
Other general money-saving tips include advice that is quite relevant and pretty easy to follow in today’s climate: don’t eat out, cook your own meals; skip the gym membership and workout at home, and so on.
Even so, living frugally is not a punishment. So, make sure you still allow yourself a few nights of takeout or a nice purchase that you know is going to make you feel good. And, be aware that if you take saving to the extreme, it could ricochet and send you into a spending spiral. Keep in mind that everything is needed in moderation, even saving money.
Remember, tiny amounts pile up and the key to saving money is consistency. So, aim for what you’re comfortable with, even if it doesn’t seem like that much. Good luck on your journey to financial independence!