Burdened By Your Rent? Try These Six Savings Tips

There are plenty of ways you can make your dollars go further.

Jul 20, 2014 at 3:45PM
Bllog May

Feeling overwhelmed by your rent payment? With Trulia's rent prices for major metros like San FranciscoMiami, and New York, averaging almost 40% of the median income, it's becoming a very hot topic for renters.

Don't sweat. There are plenty of ways you can make your dollars go further, despite the premium prices on your apartment. A little creativity, imagination and negotiation goes a long way.

If you're feeling rent-poor, try these six tactics:

#1: Ask for an Upfront Payment Discount
Ask your landlord or property manager if they'd be willing to give you a 5 percent discount in exchange for paying a few months of rent upfront.

Emphasize two points: First, they could probably earn more than 5 percent if they invest that money (or used it to pay off their investor loans). Therefore, they'll financially benefit from having the money upfront.

Second, emphasize that this reduces their workload. They don't need to hunt you down, ask for the check, and track whether or not the payment cleared. Your upfront payment will reduce their management headaches.

#2: Negotiate a Discount for a Longer Lease Term
Did the landlord or property manager say "no" to Request #1? Don't get discouraged. Instead, try another tactic: Ask for a discount in exchange for a longer lease term, such as a two-year or three-year lease.

Why would they be motivated to grant this? A few reasons:

  • Vacancy is expensive. Every month your unit sits empty is a month that they're forgoing rental income. By signing a longer lease, you're protecting your landlord from that vacancy.
  • Turnover is a hassle. Your landlord needs to conduct a move-out inspection, post advertisements, answer calls and emails, host showings, meet the new tenant for a lease signing and move-in walk-through ... these tasks demand their precious time. And time is money. By signing a longer lease, you're reducing their workload.

Emphasize those advantages when you lobby for a lower rent rate.

#3: Get a Roommate
You might not be jazzed at the idea of sharing your refrigerator with a total stranger, but a roommate will (effectively) chop your current rent in half.

(And if you can find a roomie who's a frequent business traveler, you've really scored: you'll get the price-reduction benefits without the lack-of-privacy drawbacks.)

What if you live in a one-bedroom or studio apartment? When your lease term expires, look at moving into a two-bedroom that you share with a roommate. Your personal portion of the rent will likely be lower.

Paying for half of a two-bedroom unit is usually cheaper than paying for a single one-bedroom, because the "overhead" (the kitchen, the living room) is consolidated.

#4: Go Green
If you can't lower your rent, focus on reducing your utility bills (while also protecting the planet):

  • Remove your incandescent lightbulbs. Replace these with compact-fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) or LEDs.
  • Unplug appliances when they're not in use.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Add weather-stripping around your doors and windows. (This only costs a couple dollars at the hardware store, and it can make a massive difference in your utility bill.)
  • Buy a "window insulation kit" (sometimes called "insulation film" or "window shrink wrap.") This adds another layer of insulation to the windows throughout the winter months, lowering your heating bills.
  • Hang heavy drapes or curtains by the windows, to further reduce drafty cold air from seeping in. (Leave the curtains open during the daytime so that sunlight can warm your room).
  • Keep your thermostat at reasonable temperatures. Wear a light jacket and hat indoors during the winter, rather than running the heater at full blast. Likewise, wear sleeveless shirts and drink plenty of water in the summers, rather than over-relying on the air-conditioner.

#5: Live in a Pedestrian-Friendly Zone
Choose an apartment that's located in a pedestrian-friendly or bike-friendly area. Save on the cost of gasoline by walking or biking to work, to the grocery store, to the local farmer's market, or to your neighborhood restaurants and bars.

What if these aren't located in the same area? Which of these is most important?

First and foremost, live close to work. You (presumably) go to work more often than you hit the bars or head to the grocery store.

Once you've mastered that, look for a location that's close to other spots you frequent, such as your gym, grocery store, or dry-cleaners.

Speaking of which ...

#6: Look for Public Spaces
If possible, look for an apartment that's close to public spaces like city parks or beaches. This offers two benefits: First, you can drop your gym membership and start working out in the park instead. Second, you can skip the overpriced happy hours and hang out in the park with your friends instead.

In other words, public spaces provide free entertainment, which allows you to save money. And if you live close enough to walk there, you're enjoying added savings.

What other resources have you employed to help save on rent? Share your comments below.

This article Burdened By Your Rent? Try These Six Savings Tips originally appeared on Trulia Tips.

Renters: Take advantage of this little-known tax "loophole"
Recent tax increases have affected nearly every American taxpayer. But with the right planning, you can take steps to take control of your taxes and potentially even lower your tax bill. In our brand-new special report "The IRS Is Daring You to Make This Investment Now!," you'll learn about the simple strategy to take advantage of a little-known IRS rule. Don't miss out on advice that could help you cut taxes for decades to come. Click here to learn more.

Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of fool.com.

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to www.fool.com/beginners, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at www.fool.com/podcasts.

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers