Ideally, you should not spend more than 30% of your income on rent. However, this is easier said than done, especially if you’re living in an expensive renter mega-hub. So how can renters manage to shell out a significant part of their income towards rent and still manage to keep their finances healthy?
The answer lies in adopting a frugal lifestyle.
But contrary to popular misconception, frugal living doesn’t mean living a life of deprivation. It simply entails finding ways to get the most out of what you have while keeping expenses to the bare minimum. You will learn how to identify the things you don’t need and spend less on those you need.
Here are some practical tips to help you cut costs and keep more of your cash:
1. Choose Your Location with Care
Frugal living starts right from apartment hunting. Finding an apartment in the right location could save you a lot of money. When determining the right location to support your frugal aspirations, you should consider:
- The distance to your job or college
- The distance to public transport
- Acceptable daily route time
Of course, you should have secured a job first before looking for accommodation. And it’s not about being capable of paying rent: it helps to choose your apartment with your office location in mind as this decision will save you time and money on your daily commute.
You should also consider living some distance away from downtown, while still near an excellent public transport system. The cost of living declines as you move farther away from the city centre and it will be perfect if there’s a subway or bus station within walking distance.
2. Take out a Long-Term Lease
You have the option of negotiating the length of the lease when discussing the rental agreement with your landlord. What you should bear in mind is that the longer the lease, the cheaper it is for you. This is mainly because your landlord won’t have to carry out any major renovation, repainting, or furniture change within that period. Secondly, they won’t have to lose time and money searching for a new tenant.
The two-year lease may be the cheapest option for you, but do you have the money to pay? This will require careful planning so that you don’t get cash-strapped after paying rent.
You may also consider a one-year lease, which is easier on the pockets and reasonable in terms of pricing. The most expensive option which you will do well to avoid is paying monthly rent.
3. Create a Budget
A budget is like a roadmap – it will help you reach your money goals faster. The idea is not to create a straitjacket budget that will drain your life of all the fun, but rather a simple budget that is focused on living a better life.
The first step towards budgeting is to write down your financial goals. Then remove any expense that doesn’t get you closer to your goals. Track your expenses and further eliminate any remaining expense you can do without.
You can make use of the many personal finance apps out there. They can help create your budget and track it effectively.
4. Share Your Living Space
If you’re single, you may consider sharing your accommodations and splitting the rent to cut expenses further. This can result in considerable savings, especially in large metro areas with a high cost of living and rent.
There are online resources that can help you find compatible roommates. Also, learn what it takes to cohabitate with a stranger successfully.
5. Save on Utilities
An easy way to save money as a renter is by closely watching your utility bills. It’s as easy as turning off the lights, heater, and any other appliances when you leave the house. You can reduce the electricity cost by installing LED lightbulbs when your incandescent bulbs blow out.
Try not to waste water – shower for about 4-5 minutes and do not leave the tap running while brushing your teeth or shaving. Use sweaters and blankets in the winter instead of spending too much money on electricity bills to heat up your apartment. Aside from saving money, you will also be doing something to help the environment.
6. Find Ways to Make Extra Money and Get Free Services
If you are already on a tight budget, the best way to increase your savings is by increasing your income and lowering your expenses, so you have something extra to save. Having a few more bucks will provide a safety net for lean times. Fortunately, there are many simple ways you can increase your revenue these days.
You can get additional qualifications or certifications so you can earn more in your regular job. Or you can always find a side gig that you can work on during the weekends or after your regular 9-to-5 on weekdays. The list of possible side hustles you can do to get some extra cash is practically endless. You just have to find one that aligns with your interests and skills.
You can also search for free services near you that’ll save you lots of money, like free dental care for you or your children.
7. Negotiate Cable and Internet Subscriptions
Cable and internet can take up a chunk of your income. One way to save money is by contacting your service providers and directly asking for a reduction in fees. Many of them will be willing to listen to you because they will want to retain your patronage. Especially if you sound like a dissatisfied customer.
There are also rental properties that offer free Wi-Fi connection to residents. You can also make use of the common areas in your building to access the internet or watch TV. That is if you are not a keen internet user or a TV addict.
8. Do Not Own a Pet
Pets can be a significant drain on your resources. But no matter how cute and adorable you find them, you’re better off without pets if you want to cut expenses. Pets require your time and attention, food, vet bills, and other supplies. These come at a considerable cost, not to mention you’re even risking your security deposit. Therefore, put off owning a pet until it fits into your financial plans.
9. Prepare Your Own Meals
Eating out all the time can be a costly affair. Ensure you rent an apartment with a well-equipped kitchen as this will encourage you to cook your own meals. Aside from the substantial savings, you’ll also eat healthier when you prepare meals for yourself.
In the same way, you can also make your own coffee and other beverages. And if you drink alcohol, buying from the store and drinking at home can further fatten your wallet.
10. Buy Used Furniture
Rent an unfurnished apartment and choose second-hand furniture for your new apartment. Setting up a new apartment with brand new furniture will only impress your friends and leave a huge hole in your finances. Go to yard sales, thrift stores, and search Craigslist and other online resources for great deals on used items.
11. DIY Decor
You can make your living spaces beautiful while being frugal. With creativity and a little muscle, you can do the interior decoration all by yourself. Some of the used furniture could need some refurbishing, or you may choose to enhance their appearance for a fresh look.
There are plenty of do-it-yourself (DIY) resources online that you can use to transform your apartment cheaply. Additionally, you’ll have that sense of pride in turning your apartment into a home on the cheap.
Frugal living can help you achieve your financial goals – whether living debt-free, saving a sizeable chunk of cash in rent, or retiring early. What other frugal living ideas do you have?