Being a renter comes with many benefits, an important one being flexibility and one specific type of flexibility is related to your finances.
As a renter, it is relatively easy to downsize and live below your means in order to cut costs and save more money.
The idea of frugal living and minimalism has been on the rise lately, as more people are concerned about minimizing their spending and reducing clutter in their lives.
With a cleaner environment and better spending habits, you will be able to put aside a significant amount of money, and invest it for profit—just like a homeowner invests in home equity—all while maintaining the flexibility of a renter.
And you will have the option of investing in various areas and diversifying your portfolio, without being tied to a mortgage.
Before getting ahead of ourselves, let’s first see how you can best live frugally as a renter.
Cut down on rent
One of the biggest expenses of renting is the rent itself. Although the recommended amount is around 30% of your income, there are cases where people rent for higher than this.
Depending on where you live, you can prioritize your needs to adjust your budget.
Think in terms of location and size. An apartment for rent in a city like Austin or Miami is going to vary significantly in terms of costs depending on location. Closer to downtown usually equals higher prices.
However, with the rising trend of remote work continuing, you could adjust and move somewhere closer to the suburbs, or even in another city.
Smaller towns like Fayetteville, NC or Colorado Springs, CO, usually have lower rents. For instance, apartments in Fayetteville start for as low as $600. That’s quite the difference from the $1,300 average of an Austin apartment.
You get the idea. Think about how you can take advantage of remote work and the flexibility of the renter lifestyle to downsize and rent below your means.
It will make a huge difference when you compound the gains month over month.
A second aspect you can downsize on is the size of your apartment. If you are not renting with family or roommates, then think about how much space and how many rooms you need.
Comfort is necessary, but too much space invites clutter. Similarly, if there are amenities you could not live without, don’t compromise on that; but do keep in mind that some features are just nice-to-have, and not essential.
Perhaps you don’t need to spend extra on those. So, write down your priorities and start browsing. You can actually use a rent calculator tool to set up a percentage and get started on your rent budget.
Cut down on utilities
Another area where you can implement small changes is your utilities. Here, it all starts with becoming aware of your consumption and your habits.
If you realize that there are areas you can improve—such as maybe turning off all electronics, or turning off the faucet when brushing, etc.—then that’s a good place to begin implementing changes.
You can also look into other renter-friendly solutions, such as switching the lightbulbs to LEDs.
When browsing for an apartment, you can make a mental note of trying to find some options that are within your price range that come equipped with energy-efficient appliances, and are well insulated so that your AC or heating is minimally needed.
After reducing costs, it’s time to think about your saving.
When designing your budget, there are many guidelines you can follow, such as for instance the 50-30-20 rule; according to this mantra, 50% of your income should go towards needs (housing, utilities, etc.), 30% towards wants, and 20% towards savings.
However, this does not fit all budgets. If you’re looking to live frugally, perhaps you can modify those percentages to prioritize savings over other expenses.
It’s best to set a minimum amount that you automatically save each month, rather than saving what is left over. This way, you make sure you save a certain amount each month to reach your goals.
Cut down on wants, but not excessively
The areas where you can minimize costs are needs and wants, yet needs are more important. It’s a good idea to cut down on wants, but keep in mind to not do this excessively.
Many people fear the frugal lifestyle because they think it’s restrictive. However, a little discipline goes a long way. Do you want to buy a nice piece of clothing that you need and know you’ll wear?
There’s no reason not to. If you want to treat yourself one night and order a nice meal, that’s also fine.
Doing these things rationally and allowing yourself to spend a little at times will help prevent you from going down a spending spiral because you’re frustrated with your budget and the strict rules you picture.
Remember, most importantly, you need to be comfortable to function properly. So, don’t over-restrict yourself.
We hope this article has given you some insight and inspiration to embrace frugal living and do so rationally and mindfully.
You need to be kind to yourself to make it through this journey towards financial discipline and independence.
So, take it easy, remember your advantages, and work towards your goals. Good luck!