Savvy Financial Tips: How You Should Budget For Rent

We’re back with our second installment of tips from the folks at Apartment Guide, this time with your wallet in mind. Check out our first installment here, designed to make your home feel warm and cozy – not to mention reward a lucky commenter with $50 for sharing a tip for how to best turn an apartment into a home. Congratulations to Catt S. on her $50 score!

So, speaking of finances – how good do you feel about yours? Apartment Guide’s key tip for happy apartment living is to ensure you’re fully aware of all your current financial responsibilities before signing on the dotted line. Not too hard, right? While seeing all your bills in one place can be scary, it really is the only way to be informed of all your responsibilities. Because, make no mistake, a yearlong lease IS a responsibility.

In fact, it’s recommended by financially savvy powers that be that you should not spend more than 1/3 of your monthly income on rent. Keep in mind though – you should deduct any monthly debt from your monthly income before you divide into thirds.

We at My First Apartment stand behind this tip 110%.

So, how to gather this info? Well, you can pull it up on your computer but…and I swear I’m still a Millennial…I like to print everything out. This way I can make sure I’m seeing all the relevant facts and figures.

In terms of the types of data you need, pull three months of receipts including: your credit card bills, bank account info, car payments, and student loans. If you get tutored once a week in Mandarin – include that too. Once you have figured out your monthly obligations, add on about $100 for electricity, gas, and cable Internet. If you want cable TV, add another $50(minimum).  Then, subtract from your monthly income.

Note: Your heating will increase in the winter while your electric will likely go down. Be prepared to spend more in the winter if your heat is not included in your monthly rent. Of course, if you live with roommates, you’ll be paying a percentage of these numbers. So, something to think about when debating the merits of living alone.

The above should give you a good perspective on your monthly budget and how much you can spend on your rent. That said — don’t hate me – but I also gotta talk to you about saving. I know, you likely don’t have any money with which to save. That’s fine and understandable; so just do the best you can.

Ideally, you should try to budget at least 10% of your income towards savings and 10% towards retirement. If you can’t meet these goals for a couple years, that’s OK.  There’s no retirement police knocking down your door, waiting to arrest you for carelessness. But, we all know that it’s something that needs to be done. And, the more you save earlier the less you’ll need to save later in life. We’ll be diving deeper into where to save later this month, but for now, keep it on your radar – and on your monthly budget.

Budgeting tips for first apartment living

Do you have a monthly budget? If so, share below – we’d love to compare notes!

For more budget tips, check out the full Apartment Guide budgeting article on their blog. You can also “Like” Apartment Guide on Facebook, follow them on Twitter @AptGuide and “circle” them on Google+ for real-time tips and updates on how to make the most of your new space, not to mention tips on decorating and furnishing.

Apartment Guide and owner Consumer Source, Inc. partner with bloggers such as me to participate in blogger programs.  As part of that program, I received compensation.  They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about any products and believe that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Consumer Source’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

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Author My First Apartment

Posted by

I've lived in apartments in 6 cities (including 2 foreign countries). Does that make me an expert? As of now, my ceiling isn't leaking and I don't have rodents (knock on wood) -- so I'm going to say yes . . . but ask me again tomorrow:) These days, I'm enjoying life Chicago style, but my years in Brooklyn are never far from my mind. P.S. By day I work at, but these opinions are totally, 100% my own.

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Comments (4)

  1. Avatar Marquita

    At this rate, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to move out. I make $1760 a month, minus $330 in loans, $65 for my cell, $30 for my credit card, $150 for food, about $200 for gas, lets estimate $100 in utilities, pray that I can still have my dad pay car insurance, and the magical 30% that would be free for rent is $265.50. Anyone got a cardboard box?!

  2. Avatar Dayna

    I am also preparing to move into my first apartment with my boyfriend. This article has been very helpful and I will definitely keep in mind the rule of thirds for budgeting the rent.

    Also, on the topic of budgeting, I have tried several budget tools. One that I found to be really useful is “Budget Builder” on

    Thanks again for posting such great advice!

  3. Avatar Louis

    I am preparing to rent my first apartment and have new-renters anxiety towards creating and sticking to a budget. I know I can afford the rent, but I also know I tend to be a spender rather than a saver. If it weren’t for my fiance aiding me in the “saving” attitude, I’m sure I would have a difficult time.

  4. Avatar megan

    When I rented my first apartment the hardest thing for me was sticking to my budget and at times I had problems paying the rent.