How to Budget in Your Very First Apartment

Congratulations, you’ve finally stepped out into the big, wide world and settled into your first, very own, apartment. Now what do you do? You taken that step to prove your independence – make sure you don’t ruin it by running out and sinking your money into things you aren’t going to need. Below are some tips to help you settle in and conquer your newly acquired bills and expenses.

Hopefully you did the research before you signed your lease and found out exactly how much you were going to be paying for each month’s utilities – that’s electric, heat, water, etc. Some apartments pay for cable, some do not. So be sure to include cable and Internet. Sometimes a cable company can give you package deal for phone, cable and Internet. Call around and see what everyone has to offer. Most people these days opt out of having a land-line because they have a good plan with their cell phone company. Check into that as well!

Once you know exactly what your monthly expenses are going to be, set a budget for yourself. List exactly how much money you make each month, and then start subtracting all of your expenses – don’t forget things like groceries and entertainment. Once you have a realistic budget, keep it! Hang it on your bathroom mirror, or stick it to the fridge with a magnet. You want it in your face, always, so you don’t stray. You do not want to be the one who has to go crawling back to mommy and daddy because “reality” bit to hard. Be reasonable, and be responsible.

Try not to sink all of your money into your apartment. If you are responsible for paying your utilities, watch your usage, you don’t need to spend money if it can be avoided. If you’re leaving the room for an extended amount of time turn the lights off – what is the sense in leaving them on? This goes for the computer, radio, the TV, the fan, and anything else electric.

Try not to let the water run. When washing dishes, fill the sink up completely and let the dishes soak. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth. Take showers as quickly as possible. These will all save you money in the long run.Turn down the heat or turn up the AC. If you are going to be gone, there is no sense in heating or cooling the house and costing you money. Don’t turn it off completely, just change the temperature a few degrees so it doesn’t have to work so hard.

Spend wisely at the grocery store! Make a list before you go and don’t stray from the list. Food is expensive, and if there is something you don’t need, don’t buy it. Clip coupons – you can get most of them online these days, but you can also get them from the newspaper and other things often found inside your mailbox. But again…don’t just buy items because you have a coupon. Chose coupons based on things you need! Try a store like Sam’s or Costco. Buying is bulk is a wise idea. Sure it looks like it costs a lot more, but eventually it works itself out and saves you money. Many things can be purchased in bulk – toilet paper, paper towels, coffee, cereal, soup, and some meat (if you have a big enough freezer.

When you are ready to go shopping for your apartment, there are some basic things you will need like furniture, appliances (if they aren’t provided), lighting.

Ask around to family members and friends for “hand me down” furniture. You can usually score some pretty nice things and fill up your apartment without having to fork over any money and that is a sweet deal. You can also find some fairly cheap and barely used furniture at places like flea markets and yard sales.

Most apartments provide the stove, dishwasher and fridge for you. You may still need to come up with the washer and dryer yourself. Ask your landlord as some places will “rent” you a washer and dryer for about $10-15 more dollars a month added to your rent bill. If not, keep an eye on yard sales, someone almost always has an old (still working) washer and dryer, or one or the other.

Decorate according to our tastes. Just be mindful of your budget. Picture frames can be purchased from the local dollar store and you can print pictures from your computer to save money on having them developed. Or you can frame some very nice looking posters and hang them on the wall for a more “adult” look. Add some curtains with your flair or some plants to make it feel more relaxing. There are lots of things you can come up with. Use you imagination and creativity, and stay on budget!

Moving into your first apartment can be a very exciting time, but it is also very stressful if you are unprepared for the shock of living on your own. Just be sure to stay relaxed and keep a grip on your finances and you’ll do just fine!

Oh and I forgot to mention…house warming party! What an excellent way to get things you need for your house at no expense to you! Have everyone bring something and a “snack food” and you don’t have to pay for a single thing. Party on independent one, party on!

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