Your search for the perfect apartment may mean lots of trial and error as you tour different rental venues. A major step before you even begin your search is to check your budget. With careful prep work, you can plan your finances while renting an apartment. This will eliminate any scary surprises so you will know exactly what you can afford to pay in rent.
Figure your monthly net income to find out how much money you take home in one month. Add the salaries, wages and tips of both you and your partner. If you have interest, dividend income and alimony income, add these amounts in too.
Add all fixed monthly expenses together. These expenses include child support, loan payments, cellphone, Internet, insurance, credit card bills and education expenses. These are the expenses you rack up every month that don't change. Add in the amount of rent you expect to pay for an apartment -- this amount could change if you choose an apartment that is more or less pricey.
Estimate your variable expenses each month. These are the expenses that you know you'll have but they usually change every month. For example, you know you'll have utility bills for heat or air conditioning and water -- take an educated guess to estimate how much you'll need to pay. You might also have medical or dental bills from month to month and you may have different car expenses each month.
Budget a reasonable amount of money for expenses such as food, entertainment, gas, clothing and incidentals. Include a specific amount allotted for unexpected expenses that invariably crop up every month.
Add all expenses together to get the total amount of expenses you can expect every month.
Compare your income and your expenses. Optimally, your expenses should be a minimum of 10 percent less than your income to create a comfortable margin. If your income and expenses don’t fit together with a big enough margin, it’s time to do some trimming. Take a look at your variable expenses to see if you can reduce or get rid of anything -- your entertainment or clothing budget are great places to cut. You could also reduce the amount of money you've allocated for rent and try to find cheaper digs.
- Consider other expenses connected to an apartment, like security deposit and renter's insurance. Some apartments may be pricier than others.
- According to the CNN Money website, most people spend between 25 and 40 percent of gross income on rent. Your individual rent-to-income ratio will depend on your other expenses and your living location.
- Consider retirement savings as a fixed monthly expense if possible, to make sure that you're building up your savings every month.
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