How to Live When Rent is 50% of Your Income

With rising inflation and getting less for your buck, it can be hard to live on your own and still be able to live out your twenties how you envisioned them. Last year, we took a big plunge and rented an apartment after 3 years of living with my nana rent free. Fresh into our jobs, it was nearly impossible to find a place at that desired 30% of your income. Although our rent took up about 50% of our take home pay, we still managed to travel to 10 different cities (including 2 weekend trips to Montreal) over the last year. I’ve arranged a few guidelines that we follow in order to create lasting memories as well as paying all of our bills on time.

1. Use the extra check for travel/leisure activities.
There are four months each year that have five weeks, meaning an extra paycheck. If you are running a tight enough budget, this will be not needed for the month-to-month expenses, so enjoy it! Go out to a fancy dinner, take a day trip, or if you’re crazy like us, travel down the length if the east coast and back in 4.5 days! Read about the trip here.

2. Make a tight budget, and stick to it.
Start by listing all fixed expenses, expenses that will not change from month-to-month. Then, project variable expenses like food and transportation expenses. Be sure to keep your variable expenses as low as possible in order to save the most money.

3. Eat In.
Speaking from personal experience, one of the key ways to save money is learning how to cook. There are countless outlets on the internet with healthy and easy recipes. Just by eating in, you can save up to $20 a meal. If you keep up with your budget, however, you will be able to splurge on a nice meal out every once and a while.

4. You don’t need to go to the bar every night.
Life is about creating memorable moments with people that you care about. What is memorable about sitting in a dive bar having one drink too many, and paying for it the next day? Save your money, and take a trip. If you still need that drink after a long day of work, hit up the packie. Drinking at home is much cheaper.

5. Search for local free activities.
There are so many things to do around where you live that cost absolutely nothing. For example, our area holds Free Fun Fridays during the summer months. Free Fun Fridays offer free admission to many local museums and other cultural venues around Boston and Massachusetts.

6. Wear a sweater in the winter to lower heating costs.
You are finally master of your own thermostat. Unfortunately, you also own the cost of it too. Heating costs can double and even triple in the winter months, so use sweaters during the day and extra blankets at night. Another option is to look for a supplier with lower rates than your service provider.

7. If it’s not a necessity, you don’t need it.
If you have to spend more than five seconds rationalizing why you need something, you probably don’t need it. Your budget will thank you later.

8. Coupon/buy in bulk.
You know those circulars that come in the mail at the end of every week? Stop throwing them away! Not only will they tell you what is on sale, they usually have a coupon or two to take advantage of. Not to mention some supermarkets offer discounts on gas when you use a rewards card. Saving money on food and gas in one trip is what I call a successful day. There are also plenty of websites online that allow you to print manufacturer’s coupons.

9. Ditch the movie theater for online streaming.
You can save some serious money by skipping out on the movie theater. Why hit up the movie theater when you can get your Netflix and chill on? The movie is cheaper, the food is certainly cheaper, and you don’t even have to get dressed for the day.

10. At the end of each month, analyze your budget and make adjustments accordingly.
The first month is always going to be a learning curve. And maybe the month after that as well. The most important part is to be honest with yourself. For example, if you went over your food budget by $100, make an adjustment rather than hoping for a more successful following month.

Obviously, budgeting is not easy and hardly fun, but the results from a successful budget can be very rewarding. Good Luck!!

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    1. I can imagine city living must be tough!! We live in the suburbs of Boston, and our rent is ridiculous!!

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