8 Simple Ways to Save Money When Renting

Sharing costs and negotiating rent top the list.

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Rent is usually the biggest item on everyone’s budget. The average American renter spends about 35 percent of their gross income on rent and rent-related expenses. Fortunately, you don’t have to break the bank to keep a roof over your head. Here are eight simple ways to save money when renting.

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Negotiate

Before you sign a lease or renew your lease, take the time to talk to your landlord and try negotiating. Oftentimes if you are willing to sign a longer lease, your landlord may be willing to reduce your monthly rent. If he or she doesn’t seem receptive to lowering your monthly rent, try getting him or her to include utilities or parking in your rent.

Have Roommates

A foolproof way to save money on rent is to have a roommate or two. Take advantage of Craigslist or Roommates.com and find a couple roommates. Living with roommates is much cheaper than renting your own studio or one bedroom apartment.

Referrals

Find out if your landlord will give you a rent reduction if you help him or her find a new tenant. Sometimes landlords will reduce your rent for a month if you help them fill a vacant apartment.

DIY Decorating

Make your apartment feel like a home by decorating frugally. If you enjoy photography, grab your camera and go take some pictures. Then use them as decorations around your apartment. Or, if you enjoy pottery, showcase your creations in your apartment.

Furnish on the Cheap

When you start the process of furnishing your apartment, take advantage of sites such as Freecycle or Craigslist to find free or cheap furniture. Also, reach out to family and friends who may be trying to get rid of their unwanted furniture. There is no reason to buy new furniture for your place when you can save money by taking advantage of other people’s unwanted couches, chairs, tables, or whatever else you may need.

Share Food With Your Roommate

With the price of groceries rising, a great way to save money is to share food with your roommate. Invest in a membership to Sam’s Club or Costco, set up shopping days with your roommates, and buy in bulk. Then, just split the bill. Or, switch off cooking dinner every night. Cooking in bulk tends to be less expensive than just making one meal at a time. (See also: Ultimate Guide to Bulk Buying Groceries)

[In Pictures: 10 Smart Ways to Improve Your Budget.]

Watch Your Utilities

Utilities can add up quickly and be a total budget drainer. When leaving a room, turn off the lights. Don’t leave the water running when you are brushing your teeth. Invest in energy efficient lighting. By making small changes to your utility usage, you can save big time.

Take Advantage of Apartment Facilities

Does your apartment have a gym onsite? If so, cancel your monthly gym membership! There is no need to spend money on outside facilities when you can use onsite facilities included in your rent.

Ashley Jacobs is the college correspondent for personal finance blog Wise Bread. Follow her latest tweets on @CollegeCents.