Keep Your Finances Healthy: 11 Frugal Living Tips for Renters

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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.

Contrary to popular ideas, 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. In this article, you will learn how to identify the things you don’t need and optimize your spending to make the most out of your income.

Here are some practical tips to help you cut costs and keep more of your cash:

Infographic Frugal Living Tips for Renters

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 decreases as you move farther away from the city centre, and the increase in commute time shouldn’t be too significant if there’s a subway or bus station within walking distance from your rental.

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 you have to consider the penalties that come from breaking the lease early, in case you have to move. Yet, if your two-year plan is relatively stable, then a longer term lease could be beneficial.

3. Create a Budget

Frugal living is all about being aware of your spending. 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 optimizing your income and spending, all for creating a better lifestyle.

The first step towards budgeting is to write down your financial goals. Then, list all of your income sources. Track your expenses and group them in order to gain some insight into your spending habits and patterns. Then, eliminate any expense you can do without, especially if they are recurrent. You can make use of the many personal finance apps out there, since they can help create your budget and track it effectively.

4. Share Your Living Space

Sharing the rent with a roommate

If you’re renting alone, 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 plenty of online resources that can help you find compatible roommates. And who knows, although it starts as a step towards frugal living, you might end up making a friend for life.

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. Although they are more expensive up-front, they have a longer lifespan, and you can easily take them with you if you move to a new rental.

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 your part in conserving energy and helping 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. 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. This is especially the case if you sound like a dissatisfied customer.

If you are not a fan of cable TV and are much more an enjoyer of streaming services, consider opting for an internet subscription without cable, if you find a more affordable deal.

8. Do Not Own a Pet

Frugal Living with Pets

Although they are extraodinary companions, pets can be a significant drain on your resources, and they are also a non-negotiable responsibility. They require your time and attention, food, vet visits, and many other supplies, including consumables. 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.

Following the same idea, you can make your own coffee and other beverages at home. And if you enjoy going out for the social component, invite your friends over for dinner and split the costs. Or, start a tradition of rotating dinner hosts every week or so. In this way, you get the beauty of a night out with friends at a fraction of the cost, all while enjoying a cozier and more familiar space.

10. Buy Used Furniture

Another step towards achieving frugal living is to live more suistanbly. One way to do so while also saving some money, especially if you are renting for the first time in your life, is to rent an unfurnished apartment and choose second-hand furniture. Setting up a new apartment with brand new furniture will only 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. Revitalizing old furniture can turn out to be quite an exciting hobby, and if you catch yourself enjoying the process, you can turn it into a side hustle as well.

11. DIY Decor

You can also make your living space more beautiful without spending huge amounts on store-bought decor. With creativity and a little muscle, you can do the interior decoration all by yourself.

There are plenty of do-it-yourself (DIY) resources online that you can use to transform your apartment. Aside from saving some money, you’ll have that sense of pride from turning your apartment into a home yourself. The result will be unique decor that truly reflects your personality.

Conclusion

Frugal living is a more and more popular lifestyle choice, one that can help you achieve your financial goals. Whether that is living debt-free, saving a sizeable chunk of cash in rent, or retiring early, by reducing your expenses and making the most out of what you have, you can reach your goals. Look at it as a game, and see how far you can go, while still being comfortable. You might even enjoy the challenge.

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Nicky is a Senior Communications Specialist for RENTCafé.com, where she researches and writes about real estate, interior design, and all things that spark renters’ interests. She is also your go-to person for content collaborations. Nicky double majored in Marketing and Applied Economics and holds a master's degree in Marketing Strategies and Policies. You can reach her via email at nicky.rentcafe@yardi.com.

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