This may be one of the biggest money mistakes that young people make – paying way too much for their apartment. Financial experts agree that no more than 30% of your pre-tax income should go towards your housing expense, although very few of us follow this rule. We want to live close to work, or close to the good restaurants – and of course we want to live alone in a place that doesn’t feel like a closet. Unfortunately once you move into a place you cant afford it, 1) Makes it even harder to ever downgrade if you need to and 2) Will only continue to get more expensive as your rent is raised. Since rent is likely you’re highest fixed expense, it’s important to be smart when you’re young and make some sacrifices to keep yourself out of debt.
Before I’ve ever signed a new lease or renewed a lease, I’ve negotiated the asking price down. It obviously depends on the market, but if you appear to be a good tenant, they would rather get you in there for a little less instead of having it sit vacant for potentially another month while they wait for someone else. Also, oftentimes if you are willing to sign a longer lease, your landlord can reduce your monthly rent or potentially include things like utilities or parking. It definitely never hurts to ask.
I get it. After college, roommates are generally something you’re over and want to stay away from. You want to come home to a clean apartment where no one has touched your caramel cone ice cream in the freezer. While you’re still in your 20’s, though, you might as well take advantage of the fact that it’s still socially acceptable and also pretty fun to have roommates, plus it will save you a ton of money on rent and likely be able to afford a nicer apartment. Post on your Facebook profile that you’re looking for a roommate to find someone from your pool or friends or at least a friend of friend to avoid getting creepy applicants and set the rules of the house in the first few days (don’t touch my f*#king ice cream).
Roomates = Cheaper food
Once you know that your roommate can be trusted, invest in a membership to Sam’s Club or Costco, set up shopping days with your roommates, and buy in bulk. Splitting this bill can save even more money and you can set up nights where you each cook dinner (hopefully your roommate is a better cook than me).
Find out if your landlord will give you a rent reduction or referral fee if you help him or her find a new tenant for vacant apartments in your building. This helps them save money on broker fees and if they’re generous they could pass that savings to you. Again, never hurts to ask – plus you get to have friends in the building with you – yay!
Decorating on the cheap
My apartment is about 380 square feet. Seriously. The good news is that I have a talent for making a small space feel rich (see my post on how to decorate a studio apartment). I’m also really good at doing it on the cheap. I’m a huge fan of using craigslist to find high end furniture that is lightly used, and eBay for things like lamps and other small accessories. For art I just discovered Society6 that has amazing pieces by various artists that are really well priced, and you can also check out my post featuring the other decorating sites that I love.
Take Advantage of Apartment Facilities
Does your apartment have a gym onsite? If so, cancel your monthly gym membership. You can also get a trainer to come to your buildings gym to train you for way less (and even less if you split the session with your roommate).
Cutting your living expenses is one of the best ways to get yourself to finally start saving money. Being conscious of where you can cut spending and making small sacrifices will be worthwhile when you’re able to have money for more important things in life!