It’s practically inevitable: Live in an apartment for a while, and your rent is likely to go up at some point. And hey, we feel your pain. No one likes to pay more per month for the same thing. But c’est la vie, life isn’t fair, you can’t always get what you want, etc.
The National Association of Realtors predicts average apartment rates will rise 4.3 percent in 2014. That could sting a little – unless you’re prepared to budget for a rent hike. We’ve got some ideas to adjust your spending habits so it won’t hurt as much to give your landlord a little extra money every month.
1. Make a budget and track your expenses.
Once you start keeping track of everything, you might be surprised at how much money you spend in certain places. If you see someplace you can cut back, do it! It might even be a liberating experience to stop wasting so much money and take control of your personal finances. If you’re a very good budgeter, you could even start saving more per month than your rent hike is costing you.
- Tips to get you started: How Much Should You Budget for Rent?
2. Eat in more often.
Eating out is fun, but it’s also expensive. You can save a lot of money by making regular trips to the grocery store, making a list before you go, and only indulging in treats every once in a while. If you’re watching your waistline, eating in is also a great way to lose weight and stay healthy, since you know the exact ingredients that are going into your meals, and you can adjust them according to your taste.
If you’re willing, you can save a lot of money by cutting down on your meat intake. Try a few vegetarian dishes per week – not only is it cheaper to go meatless, it’s also good for your health and the environment. Many people follow a Meatless Mondays tradition in their homes; you could give that a shot!
- Cooking pointers for the solo renter: Tips on Cooking Smart for One
3. Declutter and sell some stuff.
Got a closet full of clothes you don’t wear anymore? Tired of storing that ice cream maker you haven’t used in years? Pick a nice Saturday and have a tag sale in an out-of-the-way place in your apartment community (just be sure to check with your landlord to make sure it’s OK first.) You also could try selling some things on Craigslist or Ebay, or if your stuff is nice enough, see if a consignment shop would sell it for you. Not only will you have plenty of extra space, making your place cleaner and more organized, you’ll have some extra money in your bank account as well.
- How to decide what to keep and what to sell: What’s OK to Throw Away
4. Help your appliances run efficiently.
Every good resident should do some minor upkeep on their appliances every so often to keep them running efficiently. Vacuum the coils on the back of your refrigerator once a year to remove dust and debris; wrap your water heater in an insulating jacket to keep water warm longer; and unplug small appliances when they’re not in use. All these small things will add up to save you money on your monthly energy bills.
- More ideas to lower your bills: 5 Easy DIY Ways to Boost Energy Efficiency
5. Take advantage of apartment facilities.
If your community has a workout facility, why pay extra money per month for a gym membership? Make use of the amenities at your disposal – they’re built into the cost of your rent. Or, use workout videos and other at-home ways to get in shape without even leaving your apartment’s living room.
- More fitness tips: 6 Ways to Get Fit in Your Apartment
If you’re moving, you can save money on rent by moving to an area with high vacancy rates. As a rule, vacancy rates below 5 percent are considered a landlord’s market, with demand justifying higher rent. If you’re willing to move to a place with many available apartments, you’ll likely save more per month.
As of November 2013, the top five areas with the highest vacancy rates are:
- Memphis, TN: 7.9 percent availability
- Columbia, SC: 6.6 percent availability
- Jacksonville, FL: 6.6 percent availability
- Little Rock, AR: 6.6 percent availability
- Houston, TX: 6.4 percent availability
Areas with the lowest multifamily vacancy rates currently are:
- New Haven, CT: 1.9 percent availability
- Syracuse, NY: 2.0 percent availability
- Minneapolis, MN: 2.1 percent availability
- San Diego, CA: 2.1 percent availability
- New York City, NY: 2.2 percent availability
What are your best tips to save money in your apartment?
Photo credits: Shutterstock / Olaf Speier, Yeko Photo Studio