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At some point, we’ve probably all had roommates—whether they’re platonic or romantic. Also at some point, we’ve craved living alone. But our finances don’t always provide us the luxury of doing so.
With so many people living paycheck-to-paycheck, footing the rent all alone—and all the bills to go with it—seems overwhelming.
But, it doesn’t have to be. What if I told you that I discovered the secret—ways you can live alone and actually afford to? Well, then keep reading.
1. Live At Home… But Briefly
I couch-surfed for four years to whittle down my student loan debt before getting an apartment again in 2014. Other people move back home for a while to save money on rent. Whatever you opt to do, not paying rent for a few months can greatly help you save up for a new place, the deposit, and other move-in fees (like setting up the WiFi).
2. Take Advantave Of Move-In Specials
Sometimes, buildings offer free rent for the first month, especially new apartments or in low-rental times, like winter. Watch for those. Even if a free first month is not offered, you can always ask.
Friends of mine moved into a Chicago loft… with a shared bathroom. Yes, shared! (Ten people sharing a shower and toilet down the hall!) My friends wanted to build one in their loft, so the building owner gave them a month of rent free. So, it never hurts to negotiate! The worst someone can say is no.
3. Be Realistic About Your Budget & Luxuries
Can you really afford to live alone? Do you need a one-bedroom or will a large studio suffice? On a related note, do you need cable or can you live with Netflix (as little as $7.99 a month!) and a good Internet connection in order to catch up on all your favorite shows?
4. Get Things Second-Hand
You can save a lot of money if you buy second-hand furniture from Craigslist or get free things from friends. Personally, I always post on Facebook that I am looking for a loveseat and nine times out of 10, someone has something they’re happy to get rid of, usually for free.
5. Spend Less On Groceries
On a similar note, become BFFs with the 99-Cent Store, from getting cooking supplies to groceries and Saran Wrap.
6. Follow The 50-30-20 Plan
In this Pennyhoarder piece, they talk about the 50-30-2o plan, which means:
- No more than 50 percent of net income for “musts” (hello, rent!)
- 30 percent for “wants”
- 20 percent for savings and debt obligations
Furthermore, financial guru Suze Orman insists that we all have an “emergency fund”—and grow it to around eight months’ worth of living expenses—and suggests several easy ways to get one started, like setting up an automatic monthly transfer from our checking to savings account and saving 10-20 percent each month. (Just something to keep in mind when budgeting!)
7. Get A Space Heater
In this post, we talked about ways to save money in the winter, but another tip is not turning on the heat unless necessary. A space heater will save you money and heat up the room you’re in instead of you paying to heat the entire house.
8. Wash Laundry By Hand
Aside from never having enough quarters to do a load of laundry, you can save money by doing them by hand—or at least by line-drying them. (Hint: A lot of “dry clean only” items can be washed by hand or on a delicate cycle, which will also save you money.) You can also try doing laundry in the freezer (!), as we talked about here.
9. Cook More
Yes, cook! So many people I know eat out all the time, then wonder why they have no money come month’s end. You can buy a “set it and forget it” programmable Crock-Pot for less than $50 and it’ll do the work for you when you’re at your job. Brew your own coffee, make your own sandwich for lunch, make a Crock-Pot dinner. Try it for a month and see how much you can save!
10. Have A Dinner Party
Don’t want to make food for just one? Have a potluck dinner party. (You can check out some tips here!) This will save you all money, and provide everyone with leftovers, too – remind friends to bring some tupperware!
11. Get Renters Insurance
Sure, you may not think you need it—that second-hand TV is not worth that much. However, financial experts will tell you it’s worth the investment. “Many renters underestimate the value of their possessions and would be surprised by how much it would cost to replace the items they have accumulated,” said Emily Lyons, a Liberty Mutual property insurance expert.
It covers more than just personal items, things like flooding. Plus, it is not as costly as people think. “I try to tell people that for less than $20 a month, all your personal property is protected,” said Tim LaCasse, a State Farm insurance agent.
12. Don’t Step Into That Store, No Matter How Good The Sale
Just think—if you don’t go to that three-day weekend sale at that name-brand department store you so love, then that’s an extra few hundred dollars in your bank account.
Besides, do you really need another winter coat? Once you start thinking in these terms—that not stepping into the mall is saving you money—you’ll start to see more money in your bank account, I swear.
13. Earn More, Spend Less
Think up all the ways you can earn more money: do freelance work, make purses out of old ties (if you’re crafty), sell cookies at local bake sales, walk dogs, become an Uber or Amazon delivery driver…
Every time you want to go out and spend money (even if it’s accidentally) think of a way to earn some instead.