Steve Harper
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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.

Apartment Guide "New Year, New Budget" Survey Findings

Renters are all about doing it themselves.

  • 80% of respondents are opting not to hire a moving company to facilitate their move.
  • Most renters (70%) spent less than $1,000 total on their recent move (including movers, moving supplies, broker fees, deposits).
  • Slightly more than half of renters (54%) think they overspend on everyday purchases (for instance, groceries, transportation) and plan on cutting costs on these items this year.
  • 1 in 3 renters plan on increasing spending this year on home entertainment (for example, cable, Internet, consumer electronics, etc.)

Top 5 areas of the apartment home where renters plan to invest funds in this year:

Methodology: The survey was conducted among 1,000 US renters aged 18-34. The interviews were conducted online by RedShift Research in November 2013 using an email invitation and an online survey. Quotas were set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total population aged 18 and older. The margin of error at a 95% confidence level is, plus or minus, 3.1 percentage points.

Tips from LearnVest, an award-winning financial planning company

Start developing a 2014 budget:

  • Follow the 50/20/30 Rule:
    • 50% of your take-home pay should go to essentials like food, heat, and shelter.
    • 20% should go to financial priorities like retirement, debt repayments, and savings.
    • 30% should go to lifestyle choices like entertainment, gym fees, and shopping.
  • Use an online tool like LearnVest's Money Center to setup a budget and track your spending.

Keep track, cut costs and stop overspending on everyday purchases:

  • Try $0 Days. Celebrate those days when you don't spend a dollar. Small wins help build towards larger goals!
  • When it comes to groceries, plan ahead! Think about the groceries you bought in the last month, when they went to waste, and when you paid more than you should have. Then consider making a switch (like buying frozen veggies instead of fresh, if they always spoil before you use them).

Prepare for apartment costs:

  • Make sure to save money for any desired apartment home improvements. Do not dip into your emergency fund for small improvements like a new sofa or a bookshelf.
  • Consider whether or not the apartment improvements you want to make will increase the apartment's value. If so, speak with your property manager to see if they will assist with a portion of the cost.

LearnVest Planning Services is a registered investment adviser and subsidiary of LearnVest, Inc. that provides financial plans for its clients. Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Please consult a financial adviser for advice specific to your financial situation. LearnVest Planning Services and any third parties listed in this message are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for each other’s products, services or policies.

Top 10 Most Budget-Friendly Metros

  1. Tulsa, OK
  2. Augusta, GA
  3. Memphis, TN
  4. Columbus, OH
  5. Birmingham, AL
  6. Dayton, OH
  7. Indianapolis, IN
  8. Louisville, KY
  9. Oklahoma City, OK
  10. Cincinnati, OH

Methodology:  Apartment Guide looked at internal listing data to determine metros with the lowest average rent as well as metros with lowest cost of living according to the Q3 2013 Cost of Living Index by The Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER).

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About The Author

Steve Harper enjoys seeking out and writing about topics that matter to renters for the Apartment Guide Blog. He hails from Atlanta, Georgia. Find Steve on Google.