When you’re so over the dorms, and you’ve learned that you get along MUCH better with Mom and Dad when you’re not under the same roof, it’s time to move into your first apartment. Exciting! Also, scary.
Whether you’re still enrolled as a student or just getting started in the working world, saving money when finding and living in your first apartment is essential. The following are eight money-saving tips that will help you enjoy your new place without breaking your budget.
1. Move in the offseason.
There are certain times of the year when moving is very popular. In areas around colleges, the beginning and end of the school year are a frantic scramble for the best places—with landlords able to WAY overcharge due to the competition. On the other hand, many people don’t want to move in winter. If you have a choice and can move whenever, moving in this offseason provides less competition, opening up cheaper options—including move-in specials where your first month’s rent is free or your security deposit is waived—at larger apartment complexes.
2. Buy versatile furnishings and appliances.
Since you’re furnishing and outfitting an apartment for the first time on a limited budget, you’ll want to buy furniture and appliances that can serve more than one purpose. A futon can act as a couch or a bed and is perfect for a studio apartment—same goes for a sofa bed. The right storage trunk can also be a great coffee table. When shopping for kitchen appliances, skip specialized gadgets and buy ones that can do more than one thing.
3. Cut the cord.
There’s no need to pay for an expensive cable TV package—as much as $100 in some areas!—when there’s so much streaming programming available for little or no cost online. You’ll need the internet for your studies and basic life stuff, anyway, so take advantage of internet service you’ll already use for your TV needs.
Pro tip: A card for your local library opens up a wide array of streaming programming options available free of charge.
4. Cook at home.
Eating out, even just fast food, costs significantly more than cooking at home. Especially, when you avoid expensive premade and prepackaged food. Don’t know how to cook at all? That slow cooker you bought like a genius because of tip #2 can make you look like a master chef—simply stock up on cheap spices and search the internet for a few go-to recipes you like and you’ll have meals for miles. And if you want to save even more, you can start growing your own veggies and spices.
5. When out, buy drinks or food, not both.
Even when your ballin' on a budget, you’re still going to want to go out and have fun. So, when hitting your favorite restaurants and bars, you can save a little cash by buying drinks, or food, but not both. Eat at home before you go out to the bars, or if you’re going out for dinner, skip the adult beverages and drink water instead.
6. Lower your utility bills.
Utility bills, no matter how inevitable they are, do not usually have a fixed cost. You can lower your gas, electric, and water bills in a few simple ways. Use energy-efficient LED light bulbs instead of old-school incandescent bulbs. Use a space heater instead of turning the heat up. You can even hand-wash laundry or do laundry in the freezer instead of running a washer and dryer.
7. Get renter’s insurance.
While renter’s insurance is an added expense, you can usually protect all of your belongings for less than twenty dollars a month. That’s a whole lot less than it would cost you to replace everything you own in case of fire or burglary.
Pro tip: Keep a list of all of your belongings with an estimated value on hand in case of such a disaster.
8. Borrow, don’t buy.
You’d be amazed how many things around the house you can enjoy for little to no cost when you borrow or rent instead of purchasing. Get a library card and there’s an endless supply of books, movies, and more at your fingertips. Need to clean your carpet? Rent a carpet cleaner from a nearby grocery store at a fraction of the cost of buying one. Need boxes for storage or moving? Hit up the liquor store and ask for boxes they’ve just unpacked. There’s a lot you can get for free or cheap that you don’t have to buy.
With these eight tips, you’re on your way to independent apartment living without overspending. Not in the market for an apartment? Share this article with your friends who are!