Having your own apartment is fun, but it also comes with quite a few responsibilities. Specifically, you need to make sure you have enough money in the bank every month to pay the rent, bills, and put food in the refrigerator. Here are two tips for staying on budget every month so you can enjoy your freedom instead of worrying about money.
Look for Rental Discounts and Kickbacks
Before you even sign your rental contract, make sure you're paying the least amount of rent possible by taking advantage of every discount and kickback you can find. Landlords will make you think rent is set in stone but, with the right resources and negotiation strategy, you can net a decent discount on the rent for your lease period.
For instance, trying to attract new tenants is expensive. Thus, some landlords will lower the rent if you agree to stay in the apartment for a longer period of time (e.g. take off $50 per month if you sign an 18-month contract). If you're flexible with your move-in date, you can often score lower rates during rental slow periods, such as in the middle of winter and during summer after the college semester ends.
Additionally, find ways to earn kickbacks. Some places will give you a bounty if you recommend others, for instance. Paying rent with a credit card that offers cashback — and paying off the card each month — is another way you can earn easy money each month that can help you stay on track.
Think creatively about the things you can do to shrink your rent, and take full advantage of as many as you can.
Streamline Your Utilities
Unless your apartment pays for utilities, you'll have to fork over several hundred dollars each month to keep the lights and heat on. However, there are some things you can to do avoid spending more money than you need to.
One thing you can do is sign up for the Average Billing program with your electric and gas company as soon as you're eligible. The utility company will review how much electricity or gas was used in the previous year, divide the total by 12 to get an average amount, and charge you that every month. Your bill will be the same each month, which prevents unpleasant spikes in high-usage months that could jeopardize your budget.
You should also avoid signing up for things you don't really need. For example, with so many streaming services available, do you really need cable? Or will a really good internet package do? Consider the types of lifestyle changes you can make that will help you keep more money in your pocket.
For more tips on apartment rental or help finding an apartment that fits you, contact a real estate agent.