Sunday, July 28, 2013

Apartment Living on a Budget: How to Get the Most for your Money

clip_image001Living paycheck to paycheck is never fun, especially when living in an apartment and being restricted by your lease terms. 

According to a recent survey done by The National Multi Housing Council, 63% of renters have an income of less than $35,000. If you find yourself struggling to make ends meet each month or simply want some extra spending cash, follow these tips for renters looking to cut costs



Research Hidden Costs


Saving money as a renter starts before you even move in. Instead of making a decision based on the rent price, do as much research as possible before putting down a deposit. While you'll know upfront how much your rent will cost, there are plenty of hidden fees that can add up once you're living somewhere.

By gathering the following, you can make an educated projection about your monthly expenses:

  • Contact your local utility provider and ask about the average monthly bill for a certain apartment complex. 
  • Check apartment review sites to see what past and present tenants are saying. Seek out any mentions of unexpected costs from landlords. These Orlando apartment reviews are a great example of what to look for. 
Talk to current tenants. When checking out an apartment, ask the property manager if they can put you in touch with tenants so you can ask about their experience. 


Buy Used Furniture


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Shopping on Craigslist can save you thousands of dollars if you plan to furnish an entire apartment. With 50 million people using Craigslist every year, even smaller cities may offer a surprisingly abundant furniture selection.

To get the most out of buying secondhand furniture:
Look for moving or estate sales, where sellers are trying to get rid of items quickly. You can often negotiate lower prices if you buy a bundle of items.
Ask if the furniture has been in a smoker's home or a house with pets. While some odors may air out, pet stains and smoke will most likely linger forever.
Don't get distracted by fabrics and color. You can always re-upholster or paint furniture. Above all else, focus on quality and design.


Cut Back on Utility Costs

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According to a National Consumer Spending Survey the average amount of money spent on gasoline and energy bills per month is $151. 

Fortunately, there are plenty ways for renters to save on energy costs:

Use compact fluorescent bulbs. While these are more expensive than incandescent bulbs, they can save you tons per light bulb over the course of a year. 

  • Considering how many bulbs you may have in your apartment, this small change can bring you huge savings. 
  • Be smart about using power strips. Appliances plugged in when not in use are still using electricity (such as TVs, computers, and gaming consoles). Instead of leaving these appliances on all the time, you can plug them all into a power strip and switch the strip off when not in use. 
  • Ask your landlord to redo any worn away weather stripping on doors and windows. Cold air seeping in can increase heating costs, while warm air getting in will make you run your AC more often. 

The bills for living in an apartment and everything that goes with it don't need to leave you with an empty bank account. If you buy secondhand furniture, project an accurate monthly budget before moving in, and cut down on utility bills, you might actually be able to save money.


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