It feels like it’s harder than ever to save money.
In your early years, you just had to keep topping up that piggy bank every time your grandparents or the tooth fairy came to visit. A couple of months later you cracked it open and voila, you were rich beyond your wildest dreams.
As a millennial trying to contend with modern life though, getting your bank account out of the red is hard enough, let alone topping it up with savings. Unfortunately, those pounds under your pillow dried up along with your baby teeth.
While renting might feel like the antithesis of a good savings plan, for those of us with dreams of living in big cities, exploring exciting career options and experiencing the high-paced lifestyle our 20s and 30s promised, it’s just about the only housing option.
To help make life easier and get you one step closer to your goal of becoming financially secure, buying a house or just having funds for a rainy day, we’ve put together some great money-saving strategies for while you’re renting.
Act like you’re already a homeowner (and watch out for bills)
Nobody wants to be that housemate.
The one who complains about kitchen lights being left on. The one who switches the music off during the party. The one who sticks up a highly detailed cleaning rota.
There’s a fine balance to be struck when it comes to being a good housemate, especially when you’re more concerned with saving cash than living your best life. However, adopting a homeowner’s attitude, particularly when it comes to bills and expenses, can be a good idea that doesn’t need to be met with resistance.
Remember how your parents always complained about long showers and carpet stains? Take a look at your bill. That’s why.
By cutting down on house-wide electricity and water usage, while avoiding unnecessary breakages, you can make renting a more affordable experience for everyone in the house. Consider:
- Limiting the number of baths you run and taking a shower
- Sharing washing machine loads as a household
- Cooking meals as a house rather than overusing the oven
- Keeping the heating on a low hum throughout the winter
Sharing bills with housemates is a great, money-saving reason to rent. But, if you’re not careful or treat the house like a hotel, you can end up paying more than you might expect.
Never rent alone (invite friends along)
Renting alone might sound tempting to those of us that value our personal space, but it’s just not a realistic option for anyone looking to build up their savings.
If you’re dreaming of your own home or a summer spent travelling the world, you need to suck it up and scour SpareRoom for a house share.
Living with other people isn’t just a great way to meet new faces — it considerably cuts costs of rent, bills and taxes. When you up the total number in the house to four or five, you can quickly find yourself paying small town prices to live in highly sought-after areas.
The popularity of renting has seen a number of genuinely nice homes refurbished to fit tenants in. These aren’t your student digs, but fully-fledged family homes that will help prepare you for owning one of your own someday.
While living with friends and randoms both come with their own pitfalls, a mature attitude to responsibilities, bills and personal space can make this a genuinely enjoyable option.
Rent a furnished property
Furnished or unfurnished is one of the key questions you’ll ask yourself while searching for a rented property.
While the idea of sitting on worn sofas covered in dusty blankets or sleeping in the same bed as about ten other passing souls might not be the most inspiring, it can certainly be a lot cheaper.
Furnished properties might cost a little more than an unfurnished room, but it certainly signals a landlord that has more interest in their investment.
Without having to invest in the key furniture that allows you to enjoy (and even work in) your home, you’re saving yourself a couple hundred pounds on the initial move-in costs. That money can go towards your house fund or be better used to make your rented room feel more like a home (did somebody say houseplants…?).
If you are living unfurnished and want to spruce up your living situation, buying second-hand furniture and upscaling it into something brand new is a great, cheap hobby and a brilliant way to develop a budding furniture collection before you move into your first home.
Find ways to give your income a boost
Side hustles are all the rage right now for a reason. They’re a great way to turn a hobby you’re passionate about or a specialist skill into cold hard cash.
If you’re looking to get out of your renting situation ASAP, consider picking up a 5-9 job to complement your 9-5 income.
The joy of side hustling is the flexibility. Some of our favourite aspirational avenues include:
- Running an online store: Selling these hand-made crafts on Etsy or giving passive income a try with dropshipping? What’s not to like?
- Signing up for tutoring: Shape the minds of tomorrow and make that A* in maths count with private tutoring.
- Blogging (or vlogging): Pick up a pen or turn on your camera and turn yourself into a tough leader. Whether it’s vlogging about fashion or writing about sport, the world can’t get enough of homemade content.
Want more inspo? Check out this article.
Consider renting in less-popular areas
You might have high-flying dreams of renting in the nicest spot in town, but if your long-term aspirations lie in being a homeowner, it’s good to make some concessions with regards to your current home.
Now, we’re not saying you should move into the most run-down or dangerous part of town, but consider giving up those city centre blues for an out-of-town location that might require a (cheap) bus or bike ride to get to work every day.
These properties are usually significantly more affordable and less likely to be suddenly sold off by landlords looking for the next big payday.
If you’re looking for a more long-term option full of similarly aged and like-minded people, looking beyond the borders of the city or town centre is a good shout.
Find ways to make your money work for you
You don’t need to play the stock markets to turn your growing savings into a heap of cash. Just picking the right savings account will do that for you.
Okay, so you probably won’t get rich off of interest, but taking the time to choose the right bank with the right investment plan is worth the effort.
Whether you’re looking at a Help to Buy scheme or a Lifetime ISA, ensure you’ve got the best rates available. Money Saving Expert have a great, constantly updated guide to this that will do a much better job of explaining the ins and outs of a savings plan than this renter ever could.
Before we go, some key renting etiquette tips for those of you stepping into a shared house for the first time:
- This is a home, not your personal savings opportunity
- Running a shared house is a team effort, don’t expect or demand too much of your housemates
- Keep a good relationship with your landlord, it might just save you on moving costs
- Be efficient, clear and concise about bills, nobody wants to be messed around when it comes to money
- Always pay on time
Saving money is all about keeping your eye on the prize and having a clear picture of exactly what you’re saving for.
Without a goal, plan and monthly budget, even renting won’t help you save all that much. The cost of living for many millennials in major areas these days makes saving almost impossible, so the only way to keep that pot topped up is to discipline yourself and stay smart about money.