The best way to save money is to plan how you spend. Rent and decorate your apartment with your budget in mind and you will find you can live frugally with the comforts you love.
Location, Location, Location
Whether you’re searching for a small studio apartment in Denver or a two-bedroom in New York City, your location is paramount to finding an apartment that is affordable. Create a spreadsheet of all your expenses and be honest about the things you spend money on. Include items you use daily, monthly and yearly, like food, cleaning products and transportation.
You will pay a premium for apartments that are close to popular downtown areas or large universities. If you use public transportation or bike, you can look for an apartment that is a little further out. If you plan on driving, make sure the money you save by living outside a popular area isn’t spent on parking.
Having a roommate or two can lower your rent payment, provide more living space and give you the comfort of friends. Be honest and up-front with potential roommates before you sign the lease as it can save you from months of stress and anxiety and issues. Share details about how you live, what you want for your personal space, the level of cleanliness you expect, the noise levels of video and music and whether pets will be living with you. Arrange how rent and utilities are to be paid so that no one ends up having to chase someone around for money.
Double Duty Furnishings
Shop for furniture at second-hand stores or rummage sales. Often you can buy a higher quality piece if you look for something gently used. With a little bit of paint or fabric older couches, chairs and tables can become very chic.
Carefully inspect furniture before you buy; a split leg or an off smell may mean you should take a pass. For smaller articles like end tables, lamps and home décor try shops like Target, Walmart or your mom’s attic.
Look for ottomans that double as storage containers or shelving units that have doors. No one will know if you keep your bulky sweaters under the television. When space is tight, go vertical. Hang an over the door shoe holder on the back of your bathroom door to store beauty products.
Inexpensive baskets make a great place to keep anything from hats and gloves to socks. Under the bed storage containers give even more places to stash your stuff and your things won’t get all dusty.
Coupons aren’t just for Aunt Betty. You don’t have to make clipping coupons your life’s work but when stores send flyers through the mail it is worth looking to see what they’re discounting. Grocery stores, craft stores and department stores often have large discounts on merchandise that is seasonal.
It doesn’t really matter if your soda can has a picture of Jolly Old Saint Nick on it, or if your frying pan is a pastel color. The easiest way to remember to use your coupons is to keep them in a small basket where you keep the keys, when you’re ready to go shopping you won’t have to scramble all over the house looking for them, and you won’t forget them. Some stores have apps you can download that will give you virtual coupons, or a percentage off with regular use. Using a coupon can feel like putting on a winter coat for the first cold day of the season and finding a ten-dollar bill in your pocket.
Energy Savings in Your Apartment
It is important to conserve energy use in order to save money, but it is also better for the environment. Turn your heat or air conditioning temperatures up or down appropriately when you are not home. There is no sense keeping an apartment freezing cold in the summer just for the furniture, and likewise, your apartment doesn’t need to be toasty warm if no one is home.
Check any dripping noises to make sure there isn’t a leaky faucet or toilet. The amount of money you let go down the drain from a leak is surprising. If your apartment has one faucet leaking at a rate of ten drips per minute, it is wasting three liters of water per day. That’s 90 liters per month and 347 gallons of water per year. Call your landlord as soon as possible because not only will you be wasting water and money, but a leak can indicate a bigger problem. If you open a cupboard under a sink and it smells musty, do a little investigating and have it taken care of before you end up with a small flood.
Another way to save money in your apartment is to switch to LED bulbs in all your lamps and ceiling fixtures. Not only do LEDs use much less energy but they will very likely last 20 years. if your apartment comes with incandescent bulbs, replace them with LEDs for the length of your stay and when you move put the old bulbs back in. And remember, turn off appliances—large and small—when you are not using them. Remember how your dad use to yell, “Turn the lights off!” when you were young? He didn’t do it because he liked the sound of his own voice; he was trying to save electricity, and now you should too.
Learn to Cook
Everyone enjoys eating at restaurants but cooking at home can save you big bucks. Try a little pre-planning and you will discover huge savings when you compare the cost of a restaurant meal versus one you made yourself. Keep items in your pantry cupboard like rice, grains and pastas for easy accompaniments to a meal. Planning, prepping and freezing entire meals in individual containers is another way to make sure you have healthy dinners on work or school nights. A weekend day is the perfect time to make large quantities of things like soup, stew, lasagna or chili, and then portion it into sizes that you can enjoy throughout the week.
Make the time to plan how you shop, live and cook and you will be able to save money and live within your budget comfortably.