How to Budget For An Apartment After College
How Much Do I Need to Move Out?
Post-college life can feel both exciting and scary. You’re starting a new chapter of your life, but also getting your first real taste of “adulting.” Your income is probably steadier now than when you were in college, but at the same time, your expenses are increasing and you probably don’t want to move back in with your parents! Whether you’ve made a budget before, or this is your first time, don’t worry because we collected plenty of tips and tricks to guide you on your way to budgeting for an apartment after college.
If you also want advice on how to find an apartment after college, look no further. AptAmigo can assist you for free! We’ll put together a list of buildings based on your preferences and schedule tours for you. Let us do the hard work and take the stress out of finding your first post-college apartment.
Budget Building 101: What Should You Include in Your Budget?
First, we recommend identifying your major expenses and determining your take-home pay – i.e., the money you receive after taxes are taken out. Major expenses include rent, groceries, debt payments (credit cards or student loans), and savings or emergency funds. As you prepare for your first apartment after college, you may not know yet what these expenses will actually look like, but if you develop a rough idea, you can include these amounts as estimates in your budget and adjust them later.
Rent will probably constitute your biggest expense. Whether you plan to live in the same area after college, or move for a job or new opportunity, we recommend researching the neighborhoods you want to live in to identify what the cost of living looks like. For example, if you want to live in downtown Dallas, that will look much different than if you live 20-30 minutes away from the city and choose to commute. This exploration also serves as a great opportunity to reach out to an apartment locator at AptAmigo. We scour the surrounding area to create a list of apartments tailored to your needs and must-have features that fit right into your budget and lifestyle without costing you a dime!
Savings & Debt
Outside of rent, your other big expenses will include your savings and debt payments. When it comes to savings, make sure you allocate a fixed amount each month and don’t touch it! Your savings might be $50 a month or $500 a month, but either way you will set yourself up for success down the road by setting this amount aside now.
The dreaded debt talk… we know, but don’t let it intimidate you! No matter what your debt looks like (credit card or student loan), start to pay this off ASAP. If you are required to pay a certain amount, or can choose how much to pay each month, put it in your budget so you consistently make payments and build your credit at the same time. Chipping away at your debt now is the greatest gift you can give to the future you!
Rule of Thumb: Always overestimate what you think you will spend! That way, if it’s under what you thought, you won’t be rushed to try and make up the difference when bill time rolls around.
How to Build Your Budget: Templates Are Your Friend!
Whether you’re creating a budget for the first time in your life, or you’re familiar with budgeting and looking to fine-tune, we recommend starting with a template from Google Sheets or Excel. These templates make it super easy to include what’s applicable to you and remove what’s not. You can make it as simple or complex as you like, tailoring it completely to you. Below is a simple monthly budget template we found on Google Sheets.
Your budget should be clear, concise, and, ideally, end with a $0 balance, meaning you allocated every penny to a category in your budget. The more detailed your budget, the less chance you’ll miscalculate or overspend in a certain category. Whether you decide to use a template or build your own because you’re an Excel/Google Sheets wizard, establishing a monthly budget will ensure your hard-earned money goes to the right places.
The Hardest Part: Sticking to It
You built this beautiful budget, now what? We admit that it’s not easy to stick to every detail of your budget. However, you can take the following steps along the way to help:
Hold a Weekly Budget Meeting
Dedicate a day and time each week to input the week’s spending and check your progress. Ask yourself these questions:
- Am I on track to pay my major expenses on time?
- Did I overspend in a certain area this week? If so, what can I do to get back on track?
- Have my expenses and/or income changed? Tip: Get a simple monthly calendar to write down due dates for rent, utilities, and other bills. Post it on the fridge or somewhere you pass every single day.
Pro Tip: Get a simple monthly calendar to write down due dates for rent, utilities, and other bills. Post it on the fridge or somewhere you pass every single day.
Make Changes As Needed
Your budget will inevitably change whether your income increases, or you decide to pick up a new hobby. The budget you create gives you a foundation to build upon so that you can change items as needed without it giving you a headache.
When you’re ready to move to your next apartment, remember to identify your major expenses, adjust your budget, and, most importantly, give us a call to help you find your next home!
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About the Author: Ashlee Hall is AptAmigo’s Dallas Operations Coordinator. When she’s not scheduling tours or working with our building partners, you can find her exploring the city of Dallas to find the best brunch spots.