Apartment living isn’t for everyone. However, it is possible to live frugally in an apartment. Just because your four walls are not your own doesn’t mean that you have to shell out extra cash throughout the month. Consider these following tips to get the most out of your apartment living experience.
Choosing the Right Apartment
Choosing the right apartment is the first step to frugal apartment living. Choose an apartment that you can really afford. If you’re spending more than 25 percent of your monthly income on rent, you may be spending too much. You may not get an apartment that’s as large or as luxurious as you’d like, but you’ll have more money left after the bills are paid. Also, consider your location. Choosing an apartment close to your job and the stores you frequent will save money on transportation costs. If you move close enough, you might even be able to bike or walk.
Furnishing the Apartment
Furnishing an apartment doesn’t have to be a costly venture. There are many low-cost options that can save you big money. Before you buy new, take a trip to your local consignment shops. These shops often have furniture and house-ware items in relatively new condition at a fraction of the cost of buying brand new. Also, yard sales and estate sales are often a good source for cheap home furnishings. If online shopping is your forte, freecycle.org and craigslist.org can offer up some great local deals.
Powering Your Apartment
If you are responsible for your utility bills, take the necessary steps to limit your consumption. There are many resources online for maintaining limited electricity, water, and gas consumption without drastically changing your lifestyle. Educate yourself on how you can spend less money on your monthly utility bills.
As I mentioned before, if you choose an apartment that is close to your most traveled destinations, you will save money on transportation costs. If walking or biking is an option, you can cut out almost all of your transportation costs. However, if that isn’t possible, public transportation or car-pooling isn’t a bad idea. If you prefer to drive, the closer you are, the less distance you will have to go. Multiply your mileage savings by the number of times per year you make that trip to work or the store, and the savings could be astronomical.
Don’t Forget to Eat
In the midst of all your money-saving efforts, don’t forget you have to eat. Buying the wrong foods can result in a major melt-down at the check-out counter. Make a list before you grocery shop and stick to it. Always buy foods that you have to prepare. You will save a ton of money over the prepackaged meals of the “heat and eat” variety. Buy a cookbook if you are unsure of how to prepare your meals. Take your lunch to work, brew your own coffee, and pack a snack to limit your expenses during the workday.
Frugal living doesn’t have to be a chore. If you practice these steps and keep your eyes open for good deals, you can turn your apartment into a money-saving haven. You can even take advantage of the time you don’t have to spend mowing your lawn or making repairs, by enjoying some of the extra cash you’ve saved throughout the month.
Dana Riley writes about finance, health and home insurance.