Budgeting for Your First Apartment

Moving into your own apartment can be daunting, but there are smart steps that potential new renters can take to prepare for the big move.

If you are considering getting your own apartment, set up a budget. Creating a budget for your personal finances is a great way to see your expenditures, save money and establish good spending habits before you get out on your own.

Start saving 25-30 percent of your paycheck for rent while you’re still living at home. You’ll want to have about three months’ rent saved before you move in: enough to pay the security deposit and first month’s rent and have some left over in case you go over budget one month.

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Once you’ve moved in, continue to follow your budget. If you feel the need to save even more money, there are other ways to cut back. Consider spending less on food, transportation and entertainment. This doesn’t mean you have to starve while you sit at home doing nothing, but there are easy ways to save money.

One simple savings is to pack lunch for work or school rather than stopping at a local cafe. You’d be surprised how much of a difference this can make. It’s always cheaper to buy in bulk from the grocery store than it is to buy individual meals from a fast food restaurant.

Another way to save money is transportation. Consider carpooling or using public transportation instead of commuting alone. You might cringe at the thought of ride-sharing or taking the bus, but it can be an effective way of saving money, especially if moving to a new apartment is your ultimate goal.

Decrease the amount you spend on entertainment, clothing and other optional expenditures. Consider going to a dollar movie or a matinee rather than the full-price nighttime movie. There are also tons of things to do in your city that cost little or nothing. Most art exhibits are free. Rather than taking a date to dinner and a movie, try going on a picnic in the park — it’s cheaper and much more romantic. There are countless options to help you save for that new apartment.

Don’t move until you’ve thoroughly evaluated your budget. You should be able to pinch enough pennies to move into a new place, and you will establish better spending habits in the meantime.

By:  Neal J. Leitereg