Let’s face it: nobody loves budgeting. But it becomes necessary when you have limited income to cover all of the expenses necessary for apartment living. Read on for tips on how to create a budget for apartment living expenses.
Track Your Income and Monthly Expenses
Your budget will be meaningless if you don’t start with how much money you are actually making. This number has to be as realistic as possible. Don’t budget according to how much money you think you might be able to make. Subtract your monthly expenses from your (actual!) income. When we say monthly expenses, we mean to budget for apartment living expenses that are set in stone each month. For instance, you’ll always have to pay rent, electricity, water, trash, and the likes.
After you’ve discovered how much money is left after your monthly bills, you need to track the rest of your spending. We recommend you record all of your spending for a month.The easiest way to do this is to print a monthly debit card statement or two. Break out the colored highlighters and color-code away. Count up how much you spend on groceries and eating out as separate categories. Counting like this will help you get an idea of how much you spend in what area. While you’ll likely be surprised at the amount of money you’re wasting in some of these categories, don’t make any drastic cuts just yet. Any transition should be gradual so that the budget is easier to maintain.
You need to make sure that your budget fulfills your personal needs, or it’ll be difficult to maintain. This is where Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs might come in handy. Your needs, according to this pyramid, are physiological basics, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. It may seem like this has nothing to do with your spending, but take a closer look. Try to place each area of spending where you think it belongs on the pyramid. You might notice some areas where change could leave you feeling more fulfilled.
Pick a Tool
There are many tools available that can help you keep track of your budget. If you prefer budgeting on paper, try printable budgeting worksheets. You can also export your bank statements into Excel, utilizing that platform for budgeting for apartment living. There are also apps and online software that help with budgeting. Some of these even connect to your bank account and track your income and expenses directly.
Consider Alternative Systems
While most budgets run monthly, you likely get paid weekly or biweekly. It might be easier to budget per pay-period instead of per month. Separating your accounts is another system you can try. You might have one account for bills, another for spending, and another for saving. Try it out and see what works best for you and your budget. If you are free of credit card debt and consider yourself responsible, try only using your credit card to spend. Pay it off once per pay period or however often works for you. The trick here is to make sure you pay it off before they check your credit score. This helps build credit while also earning you the cash back rewards that accompany credit card spending.
By Martha Kendall Custard