Budget Prep Before You Start Your First Apartment Search

Is the time nearing that you will be thinking about renting your first apartment? Is it time to leave the dorm, or are you getting ready to graduate, or do you just want to move out on your own and you feel you are ready to rent your first apartment.

The first thing you need to think about is your budget for an apartment. You can print the Monthly Budget Worksheet from our Moving Information Page https://www.gainesville-rent.com/web/movingInfoPage/15 and start your journey into finding your first apartment.

There are several budget questions you will need to answer as you do your worksheet and tour apartments.  https://www.gainesville-rent.com/web/movingInfoPage/14

  1. What is the monthly rent?
  2. What is included in the rent – electricity, water, gas, internet, cable?
  3. What is not included in the rent and what those cost will be?
  4. What are the Pet Policies if you have a pet or want one in the future?
  5. Will you need Renter’s Insurance?
  6. What will your transportation cost be?
  7. How much money will you need for a meal plan or groceries?
  8. Will there be any extra money for entertainment?
  9. What can you budget for personal management?
  10. Can you budget a little for savings for any emergencies that arise?

When you finish with your budget planning you will be better prepared to start your search for the best apartment for you.

3 Painless Ways to Save Money This Year


If you’re looking for some ways to save a little cash – maybe for a vacation or just so you can beef up your savings account, sometimes it’s best to start small. You’ll be surprised at how quickly these little tricks make your money add up. Master these simple habits and you’re sure to be a super-saver!

Empty your change every day

I did this for a year and ended up with well over $100 in leftover change in my jar! If you use cash frequently, this is an absolute must. At the end of the day when you go to put your PJ’s on, empty your pockets (or your purse) of all its coin change into a piggy bank, jar, or anything that will hold it. You’ll be amazed at how it grows! Pick up some coin papers from the bank and roll the change while watching your favorite show on Netflix.

Set up your bank account to save for you

Some banks and credit unions have the option to round debit card purchases up and move the difference to a savings account. Some of them add $1 to a savings account for every checking account debit. So for instance, if you spent $5.25, $0.75 would go into your savings. Each bank is different so explore the saving options yours has available.

Cut your coffee habit

Starbucks or your local coffee shop is a great treat, but scale it back to exactly that: a special treat and not an everyday habit. If you spend $3 every day on a coffee drink, that adds up to $21 a week, which is about $1000 a year! While it’s probably not healthy to pick apart every little purchase you make, buying fewer cups of coffee every week isn’t too difficult of a habit to learn. If you have to have it every day, consider buying a coffee maker and grounds because the cost will still come out in your favor!

Cut Your Coffee Budget in Half!


One of my biggest budget woes is the coffee portion – I cringe to think about how much money I would be saving every week if I cut this part out. My Mint app often reminds me of this fact, too…”Exceeded budget for coffee”….yeah, yeah I hear you. I don’t think I could totally cut this part out for my particular lifestyle (I really enjoy the coffee breaks!), but there definitely ways to cut back on how much I’m spending on java each week. I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll save my pennies and start saving for that vacation.

Get a Good Travel Mug A solid vessel for your coffee that’s easy to carry around and good to drink out of may make all the difference. Making coffee at home is dramatically cheaper. So if you can DIY that coffee and carry it with you to work, school, or wherever, it’ll cut down on the temptation to stop at Starbucks.

Set the Coffee Pot Timer Basically the best idea ever – the timer on your coffee pot. If you’re like me, you’ve never quite understood the definition of “morning person”. Therefore, the night before when you’re you know, actually awake, prep the coffee pot for the next day.   Then you’ll be ready to throw the coffee in your travel mug and hit the road.

Cut Back Your Coffee Consumption This one doesn’t sound like much fun, but you might actually be consuming more caffeine than is healthy. According to the Mayo clinic, up to four cups a day is healthy. I however cannot handle over two without it interrupting my sleep pattern. It’s something you may want to take note of and possibly substitute water in for that fourth cup of coffee.

Limit the Number of Times You Hit the Coffee Shop a Week If you make going to the coffee shop a special thing once a week, you’ll quickly learn this as a routine. You’ll know that the coffee shop is not an everyday thing, but a once a week thing!


Bring Back the Piggy Bank!

piggy bank

In all seriousness, for this money saving technique you may want to grab a piggy bank. I’m all about pinching pennies here and there, but I definitely do my fair share of impulse buying too. Here’s how you can easily do both and not feel as guilty at the end of the day.

The method works like this: If you ever have cash (if you don’t usually, we’ll get to you next), put ALL the coin change you’re given back from purchases into a piggy bank and only keep the paper bills in your wallet or purse. It’s as simple as that. So when you buy something for $1.09 and pay with $2.00, the 91 cents goes toward your savings. If you do that every time you spend cash, you will quickly amass a savings jar, which you can take to your local bank and deposit in your savings account or spend on something special.

Now if you don’t normally have cash, you may have a very similar, but less tangible option: Your bank may have a program where every time you use a debit card to make a purchase, it is rounded up to the nearest dollar and the difference is moved into your savings account. This is a quick and painless way to trick yourself into saving money!

…If you want to have more fun putting your coins into your bank, try this hilarious Japanese cat coin bank



(photo credit: stuffyoushouldhave.tumblr.com)

How Much Would You Pay For Your Apartment?


Among the many criteria apartment shoppers have in mind while looking for a new place, by far the biggest, most important piece of information is almost always the price. There’s a logical reason for this, too. Financial problems can dramatically increase the amount of stress on an individual and decrease the level of happiness, which is exactly the opposite of what we all want. So the question at hand is: do you know how much rent you can afford to pay?

The first and most mathematical way to look at this is by annual income. The rule of thumb is that it is wise to pay no more than 30% of your total combined annual income for your apartment. So, if you make $50,000, use one of these two methods to determine the maximum:

$50,000 x .30 = $15,000,   $15,000 ÷ 12 = $1250


$50,000 ÷ 40 = $1250

Both of these formulas bring you to the same number, but the second very obviously is a shortcut with fewer steps.

Your comfort level has everything to do with how much you pay as well. If you are comfortable paying more than 30% of your salary to have the apartment you want and possibly skimping on other budgeted items or luxuries, then the decision to pay a little more is justified. Or, if you would rather save more and spend less, you can set a budget accordingly by using this number as an out of range, upward limit.

When considering how much is affordable don’t forget to factor in utilities, upgrades, and a small allotment for repairs or furniture. Determining what you can afford before you start shopping for a new place will be greatly beneficial and help you remain financially comfortable.