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Moving into your first apartment is a huge milestone in life. Having your own place is very exciting, but it also comes with responsibilities. Knowing how to budget for your first apartment is important, and following our first apartment budgeting checklist below will help you stay on top of your finances. For the first time you are now responsible for balancing paying rent with the rest of your monthly expenses. The good news is that with a little financial planning, budgeting for your first apartment should be easy.
1. Moving expense
Moving is a one-time expense, but an important one to budget for. If you plan to move cross-country, you will likely need to invest in professional movers. You may also want to use a moving company for a local move. For a breakdown of expected costs for moving, check out our moving cost guide here. You also may need to buy furniture for your new place, so factor this into your moving costs as a one-time expense. If you want to find quality furniture on the cheap, there are a few great places you can check out here.
Rent will likely take up a large portion of your take-home pay, so make sure you plan accordingly. The 50-30-20 rule is a good starting off point for determining how much money you can afford to spend on rent. Making your monthly rent payments on time is critical, so make sure you have a monthly budget that ensures you can make these payments.
You will likely have to pay for electricity as one of your main utilities. Make sure you call your provider before moving in and get your utilities set up under your name. There are many ways you can save on your electric bill, so do your research to make sure you are not spending more than you need to. Also check if you pay for air conditioning as part of your electric bill, and budget accordingly for summer months.
4. Heat and gas
Sometimes heat and natural gas will be covered by your landlord, sometimes you will have to pay this utility. Make sure you check before you move in, and ask your landlord what the expected monthly costs are. Remember, your bill may spike in colder months as you crank up your heat. Curious how to save even in the winter months? Check out our tips here.
Cable bills are now synonymous with cable and internet. While you may decide to cut the cable cord and forgo all the cable channels for alternatives like Netflix, you are definitely going to need internet. The good news is you can normally use the same provider for both and choose a package that works best for you. Plus, most providers even have a mobile app that you can manage your bill from.
6. Netflix, HBO Now, and other streaming services
Streaming services are oh-so-popular these days, and paying for a streaming service over cable can help you save money in the long run. Just don’t forget to factor these costs into your monthly budget.
7. Other utilities
Double check if there are any other utilities you need to cover before you move in. Some places you have to pay for trash or an amenities fee.
8. Car payments and car loans
If you own a car, you most likely have to make car payments on a monthly basis, or at least pay your car insurance. This can add up, so have it on your budget checklist.
Some places come with free parking, some apartments require you to pay for a parking spot. You may find you need parking but your apartment building doesn’t offer it, so you need to pay for a spot in a nearby garage. Parking for work may also be something you have to pay for, so make sure to factor this into your budget.
10. Other transportation expenses
Are you taking the bus to work every day or commuting via train? Perhaps you ride city bikes on a regular basis. Public transportation may be cheaper than owning or using your car, but still costs money, so factor this into your monthly spending.
11. Groceries and food
If you are living on your own, you also have to feed yourself. Think about how often you plan to grocery shop versus eat out, and factor in your monthly food costs.
12. Phone bill
Whether it is your cell phone or a landline, you have to pay to use your phone every month.
13. Credit card payments
If you use a credit card, make sure you pay off the minimum amount monthly. Paying your credit card is a critical component to building up a good credit score, which, in turn, impacts your ability to rent and get loans later in life.
14. Student loan payments
There is a good chance that if you are getting your first apartment, you may have just graduated from college. If you are like many Americans, this also means you have monthly student loan payments.
15. Health insurance
Some people have health insurance covered by their work, others have to figure it out on their own. Make sure you budget accordingly. Even if your work covers health insurance, if you think you may have medical expenses in your future, take some time to look through your coverage. Understand what co-pays, i.e. the portion you pay before insurance covers the rest, you will have for any medical costs.
16. Renter’s insurance
While not mandatory for most rentals, having renter’s insurance is a really good idea. It is normally cheap, and gives you fantastic coverage. If you want to know more about renter’s insurance, read through our guide here.
17. Gym membership
Do you love spin class? Belong to a gym? Spend money every week on your favorite fitness class? These costs add up, so make sure you include them in your budgeting process. If a gym membership is too costly as you get set up in your first apartment, check out our tips for setting up a home gym.
18. Other subscriptions
Subscriptions can range from your Audible account to a wine club you belong to. Make sure you take stock of all your monthly payments and include them in your budget.
Give yourself a budget for fun. Take a look at your spending habits and figure out how much money you need to set aside in order to entertain yourself with movies, fancy dinners, outings, and other activities.
Taking the time to go through this budget checklist before you move into your first apartment will save you a lot of financial headache in the future. Take the time to create a budget worksheet off of the above checklist so that you know where you are spending your money. Start with all your different sources of income, figure out your monthly net income (how much you take home after taxes), and allocate your money to the above items. Anything you have left over, put directly into your savings account. It is never too early to start creating a financial nest egg for emergency funds, and even think about retirement savings. Both your peace of mind and your bank account will thank you for taking the time to set up your personal finances. Plus, when you know your money is in order you will enjoy you first apartment stress free!