It’s January, and you know what that means: New Year’s resolutions. In addition to eating better and losing weight, many Americans resolve to get their finances under control by creating a monthly budget for themselves. Making a budget is essential if you want to build your savings, but it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself.
A budget is especially important for renters who hope to become homeowners one day. A monthly budget means keeping track of your income and spending, as well as planning for any “hidden expenses” that may come up – things like birthdays, holidays and, if you get an hourly wage and no sick pay, days you need to call off work.
A good monthly budget also means cutting expenses where you can. The experts at Rent.com put together a list of five simple changes you can make to save yourself some money each month, keeping a renter’s budget in mind.
1. Say goodbye to cable. Cable is expensive, and with the rise of services like Hulu Plus and Netflix, it’s becoming an unnecessary expense. Budgeting for cable means setting aside nearly $100 a month, and that’s a lot of money out of any renter’s monthly budget. Rent.com says by cutting cable and connecting a TV to the Internet, renters stand to save an average of $92.
2. Put those space heaters to use. According to Rent.com, the monthly budget for energy bills is roughly $183. They say setting your thermostat to 62 degrees and running a space heater in the rooms where you need it will save your roughly $17 a month. I’m not completely sold on this budgeting tip since you’d still be paying to run the space heater, and I’m not a fan of space heaters in general, but this might work for you. If you decide to use a space heater, make sure to read these tips on preventing house fires from Travelers Insurance.
3. Get rid of your landline. The only people I know with landlines are businesses, my parents and my boyfriend’s great-aunt. Unless you get terrible reception in your apartment, stick with your cell phone and save $35 in your monthly budget.
4. Use less hot water. If you have in-unit laundry, paying to heat your water can cost you. According to Rent.com, budgeting for hot water means an additional $72 per year comes out of your pocket. If you do your laundry in cold water, you can reduce your energy usage by 90 percent. Your clothes might last longer, too.
5. Get cookin’. You pay rent on your kitchen, so why not use it? Money in your budget for dining out means less money in your pocket. The average American eats out six times per month, spending an average of $172. Eat out once a month and cook at home instead; you’ll have an extra $144 in your monthly budget to put toward something else.
Making some decisions about your “needs” versus your “wants” can free up a lot of room in your budget. Saving money by not buying things you don’t absolutely need means you’ll have more money in your monthly budget to save toward your dream home or a nice vacation. Sticking to a budget also means you’ll have a little more cash in your pocket at the end of the month, and that’s never a bad thing.