Spend Or Save? Which Apartment Items You Should Pay More For

A bed is one item that's worth spending a little extra on. Your back will thank you. Image: Oro Valley-The Golf Villas at Oro Valley, AZ

A bed is one item that’s worth spending a little extra on. Your back will thank you. Image: Oro Valley-The Golf Villas at Oro Valley, AZ

When you rent an apartment, rather than buying a place, it can save you a lot of money. However, if that apartment isn’t furnished — as few apartments are — you’ll soon find yourself with a list of extra things that you have to buy in order to turn your new place into a proper home.

Buying everything at once can be overwhelming (not to mention a strain on your bank account), but you can get away with skimping on certain things. However, you should spend the money on other items so you don’t have pay to replace them a few months later.

So which things can you save on, and for which apartment items should you spend a little extra? Let’s break it down.

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Hidden Gems: America’s Most Affordable Cities (Infographic)

Click on the image to view the full infographic.

Click on the image to view the full infographic.

Big-city living isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Not only will you find plenty of small-town charm if you live in a less populated town; you’ll also save money. Apartment Guide found the top 10 cities with the least expensive median rent prices, and we dug up a few cool facts about these hidden gems as well.

1. FlorenceMuscle Shoals, AL

Median rent: $395

Named after the city in Italy, the northwestern Alabama town of Florence not only boasts the cheapest rent in the nation; it’s also the home of the University of North Alabama. Music lovers are in luck; artists from all over the country come to Florence each summer for the W.C. Handy Music Festival. It originally focused on blues and jazz, but now includes rock, gospel, country and more.

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Cheap Green Cleaning: The Only 5 Products You Need

Baking soda is super cheap and can be used in all sorts of ways around your apartment.

Baking soda is super cheap and can be used in all sorts of ways around your apartment.

When it comes to spring cleaning, the only way to do it right is to go green. Not only are non-toxic cleaning products better for your health, there’s another bonus: This is one of those times when going green also saves you money! Not only are the following five ingredients good for your health and your home’s cleanliness, they also cost way less to keep on hand than commercial cleaners.

Ready to start scrubbing? Read on to learn about the only five weapons you’ll need in your cleaning arsenal:

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Your Roommate is Leaving You … Now What?

If you're thinking of asking a stranger to be your roommate, meet them in person more than once before asking them to move in.

If you’re thinking of asking a stranger to be your roommate, meet them in person more than once before asking them to move in.

Everything has to come to an end sometime – and not always on your own timetable. Maybe your roommate is graduating; maybe they’re getting married; maybe they found a great new job in another city and they have to move. Any way you slice it, they’re out and you’re left high and dry, not to mention all alone in your apartment.

That can make for an awkward situation, but it doesn’t have to be a bad one. Even if it seems like your soon-to-be-ex-roomie is leaving you in the lurch, this could be a good opportunity to start a new chapter in your life. Here are some questions you’ll have to ask yourself.

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Craigslist vs. eBay: Where Should You Sell Your Stuff?

There’s no way around it – you need extra cash. While selling blood plasma may have crossed your mind, there are easier ways to pad your bank account. Have you thought about selling stuff that you no longer want or need online?

Need Extra Cash? Selling on Craigslist or eBay Could Bring Big Bucks

From furniture to textbooks and even the most random knick knacks, you’d be surprised what people are willing to pay for the stuff you’ve long neglected. The hard part may be determining the best vehicle for getting your stuff into a buyer’s hands. Craigslist and eBay are two notoriously popular options, but which one is right for you? Apartment Guide explains the good and the bad of each.

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5 Ways to Help Your Heater Run Efficiently

Changing your air filters every winter means your furnace doesn't have to work as hard to get warm air into your apartment.

Changing your air filters every winter means your furnace doesn’t have to work as hard to get warm air into your apartment.

Ah, the deep freeze of winter. Maybe you love the freshly fallen snow, the way you can see your breath in the air, and snuggling up under warm blankets while the wind howls outside. On the other hand, maybe you’re sick of runny noses, wearing 18 layers of clothing, and constantly worrying about whether the roads are safe for driving.

Whether you’re reveling in a winter wonderland or nursing a serious case of spring fever, there’s one thing we all have in common: Our indoor heaters are running nearly all the time. That kind of energy use can make power bills skyrocket – but what’s the alternative? Shivering inside your own home? No thank you – we’d rather do what it takes to help our heating systems run more efficiently so we get all the cozy warmth without breaking the bank.

Ready to get toasty? Read on:

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New Year, New Budget! How to Stay Financially Fit in 2014 (Infographic)

Click the image to view the full infographic.

Click the image to view the full infographic!

It’s the kind of cliche that exists for a reason: are you already planning to do a better job following a budget in the New Year?

If your credit card bills are telling you that you overspent during the holidays, take a look at our tips for getting – and staying! – financially fit in 2014.

Apartment Guide has teamed up with LearnVest, an award-winning financial planning company, to share some useful budgeting tips on how to spend less and save more this year.

We’ve also dug through our data to find the top 10 most budget-friendly metros for affordable apartment living in 2014.

Our recent budget survey found that a majority of people who are moving opt to do the work themselves — without hiring a moving company – and they are spending less than $1,000 on the entire move. One in three renters plan to spend more on entertainment at home in their apartments this year, however. (Maybe that’s where the moving money is going?)

On that subject, LearnVest notes that the average American spends over $900 a year on cable. You might consider a less-expensive option to get access to your favorite shows, like HuluPlus or Netflix, instead.

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Sweep Away Bad Budgeting Habits With a Saving Plan

We won't claim that saving is fun, but here are a few tips that jsut might help make it a little less painful! Here's to saving in 2014!

We won’t claim that saving is fun, but here are a few tips that  might make it a little less painful. Here’s to saving in 2014!

It’s far too easy to blow your budget over the holiday season.

Between the presents, the parties and the travel, all of your merry-making can leave you seeing red in the new year.

But there’s good news: the start of a new year is also a great time to get your savings goals back on track.

Here are a few easy, fairly painless ways you can get a new saving plan started in 2014!

Lose the “latte factor”
Financial expert David Bach, author of the best-selling Finish Rich books, advises everyone to determine their “latte factor.” Your personal “latte factor” refers to the small, seemingly insignificant items you purchase on a regular basis, such as a daily coffee from Starbucks. These items may have small price tags, but when purchased periodically they really add up. You could buy café lattes five days at $3.50 a pop, or you could choose to save that money — which adds up to over $900 a year — in an interest-bearing account. Saving money is the same thing as making money, so it’s a good idea to look at where you’re bleeding extra cash — such as daily coffees, cigarettes, unused gym memberships, etc. — to consider what you might be able to cut out.

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Rent Going Up? 5 Ways to Save Money So You Don’t Feel the Pinch

If your used clothing is in good shape, consider selling a few items to make some extra cash.

If your used clothing is in good shape, consider selling a few items to make some extra cash.

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.

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How Can I Keep Debt Down Around the Holidays?

Give yourself the gift of good credit for the holidays! Check out these tips for budgeting during the holiday season.

Give yourself the gift of good credit for the holidays! Check out these tips for keeping debt down this holiday season.

By Ellen Henderson Sirull

The holidays can be packed with extra spending – from trips to visit the fam to getting your best friend the jacket you know she’ll love.

There are a few ways you can try to keep the fun and giving up while keep costs down.

Here are three things you may want to pay attention to in order to keep your debt down around the holidays.

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