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Budget Worksheet

Making a Budget Worksheet for Your Apartment

Budget Worksheet

Moving out on your own for the first time can be stressful. There are a lot of things you need to learn to juggle, including budgets. When you first rent an apartment forming a budget for food, rent, utilities, and more can seem like a daunting task. That is why creating a budget worksheet is a great idea. By creating a budget worksheet you can get down on paper what you expect your monthly expenses will be compared to your income. It helps you keep track of your finances and even prepare for any surprises.

Three Budgeting Principles

When creating a budget worksheet there are three principles you’re looking for: You want to understand where your money is going each month, you want to get a foundation for how to save more and spend less, and you want to be able to get control of your money. These three principles will help you get an idea of where you are currently and where you would like to go.

Mark Your Income

It is never a good idea to spend more money than you have, so figuring out your income is the first step. If you have a steady job this can be an easy part, as you likely have a set income each month. If you have some side jobs in the gig economy some months can be better than others, but you can take that into account. For example: If you earn extra money shoveling snow on the side you’re going to have more income in January as opposed to June. Be sure to use your best judgement.

Figure Your Expenses

Some of these will be easier than others. Your rent is going to be static for each month of your lease. The same is true for a car payment, student loan, or anything else. Utilities will vary, but not by much. Where you really start to see your budget is in your variable expenses. What do you spend each month on eating out or going out to bars? How much do you spend on entertainment? It is these variable expenses that can be cut if necessary.

Figure Out Your Goals

Do you want to save more? Then write down a specific dollar amount you want to save each month and consider it an expense. You can even start a savings account and set up an automatic draft from checking for a certain amount each month, or even each week. Time it with when your paycheck arrives so that you know you will have the money there to save. Be sure to check on your spending each week and adjust as needed.

With these tips it is easy to get a handle on your finances and see where some sacrifices (if any) need to be made. You can even purchase budgeting programs such as Quicken that will show you where your money is going over time.

Eliminate the Waste: 5 Tips for Saving Money on Utilities

Eliminate the Waste: 5 Tips for Saving Money on Utilities

Eliminate the Waste: 5 Tips for Saving Money on Utilities

Written by Kris Lindahl REALTOR® CRS CLHMS
CEO/Owner The Kris Lindahl Team at Kris Lindahl Real Estate
2407 109th Ave NE Suite 110
Blaine, MN 55449
www.krislindahl.com
twitter.com/krislindahl
linkedin.com/in/krislindahl
www.minnesotacommercial.com

 

One can’t go wrong when taking steps to conserve energy use in their apartment home. Besides helping to save precious natural resources, residents can also save a good bit of money by making a few small changes in their units and in the way they live. These five useful tips for reducing utility use can ease one’s conscious as well as those monthly bills.

1.  Kitchen Energy Efficiency Tips

The use of ovens and dishwashers can make the kitchen one of the hottest rooms in the home. In warmer months, experts recommend using these devices in the evening time when it’s cooler to reduce the AC’s heat load. Furthermore, utility use can be further reduced by disabling the second rinse and heat cycles on the dishwasher and allowing them to air dry. Another way to keep the kitchen cool is to install small LED lights beneath counters to reduce use of heat producing and energy draining overhead lights.

2.  Smart Power Strips for Modern Households

In a gadget loving society, most households have numerous appliances, consoles and chargers plugged in at all times.  Whether they are being used or not, such juice drainers are called ‘energy vampires.’ However, today’s smart power strips are designed to save energy and money by shutting down energy flow. These modern accessories cost around $40, feature multiple outlets, provide surge protection and also power down connected devices when they aren’t in use.

3.  Water Wise Conservation Tips

Many apartment communities include water with rental rates as an amenity, so low-flow shower heads and toilets are likely already installed to minimize water use. However, some steps renters can take to further reduce water use and energy costs include:

  • Doing laundry in large loads and using cold water.
  • Running the dishwasher only when it’s full adjusting settings to shut off second rinse cycles and heat drying.
  • Keeping showers short or taking baths in lieu of showers to expend less water.
  • Collecting rainwater in buckets to use for watering plants. It’s free, and plants prefer it over tap water.

4.  Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Lighting

Traditional incandescent bulbs may provide ample lighting but are rather inefficient in a number of ways. They tend to burn rather hot and increase cooling costs. They also draw more energy than today’s modern options such as LEDs and compact fluorescent light bulbs that are far more efficient. Furthermore, energy-efficient options have a greater lifespan that incandescent bulbs, so renters can save even more over the long term. Changing the most commonly used five bulbs in the home can have a noticeable impact on utility bills whole reduceing one’s carbon footprint.

5.  Take Control of Heating and Cooling Costs

Depending on the age of the apartment building, there may be a traditional thermostat or a smart home thermostat installed. Regardless of the type, lowering the thermostat by one degree can reduce energy costs by 3 percent. However, energy rated smart thermostats can help renters save much more, as they can be controlled at will even while away from home. These are ideal for those away from home for several consecutive hours and want to reduce use but prefer to return to a cozy temperature.

At the end of the day, every small change made can add up to big savings. While upgrades are certainly helpful, habits can make a huge difference when they’re consistent. If you’re looking to help the environment or just want save a little bit more every month, these changes can get you headed in the right direction.

Save Money with a Roommate

8 Tips to Get Your Budget on Track

8 Tips to Get Your Budget on TrackGetting back on track with your budget can be disheartening, if not a source of anxiety. How will you eat out four times a week if you’re putting all the money you make away for twenty years? Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. Heed the following reasonable, simple steps to get back on track with your budget.

Set a Goal

Your goal must be realistic, measurable, achievable, and timely. Are you aiming to have just $50 at the end of every week? Want to save $100 for the holidays? Do you plan to move when the lease is up and hope to put money down on a house? Think about your future, what you’d like to achieve or obtain, and set a timespan in which you can reach your goal, and measure your progress as you go along.

Monitor What You’re Spending Monthly

Begin your budget by maintaining detailed records of your expenses for 30 days. Track every purchase down to the cent. This will help you win back control of your budget by knowing exactly where your paycheck is being spent, and it’ll provide a guide to set a realistic spending budget with. It’ll also give you indications where you can change your spending behavior.

Set a Spending Budget

You now know where all your money is going, so setting a realistic spending budget will be easier. You will have to make adjustments to understand what will work best for your way of life, so do not be afraid of change, yet also don’t be afraid of sacrificing immediate pleasure for long-term gain. You won’t have to cut out all the fun stuff, but sticking to your spending budget will assist you in reaching your goals.

Choose a Savings Account Thoughtfully

Savings accounts can differ greatly with regards to interest, fees, and minimum balance requirements, so do your homework and find the account that’s best suited for you.

Save Automatically

All of us have weak moments when we intend to put money into savings, but something comes up. Maybe that birthday you forgot about, or your car gets a flat tire. Avoid the situation three months from now when you look at your savings to discover you only have $10 in it by making your contributions automatic, establish direct deposit from your payroll and avoid a saving’s plan derailment. You may also have it automatically drafted from your bank account into your savings via  tools on your bank’s website.

Establish an Emergency Fund

What would you do if you lost your job or were in an accident causing extended hospitalization? Do you have enough money to get you through if have to take off work for a few months? While your savings account could be utilized for a significant purchase like a brand new car or a down payment on a brand new home, an emergency fund is an account you fund and don’t touch unless there’s an actual emergency. Financial experts say you should have four to seven months’ worth of expenses in your emergency fund.

Be a Clever Shopper

Look for ways to save. Sign up for rewards or programs loyalty, shop at the warehouse and club stores, use coupons and plan your trips strategically to take advantage of the best offers. When shopping online utilize cost comparison websites.

Get App Savvy

You’ll find an application for almost everything. So look for applications that can help you be a better saver. There are budgeting applications, ones that assist you in finding the best local deals and applications which will help you to sell your old items to other people. Consider YNAB (You Need a Budget), although coming at a price of $50 a year, it connects to your bank account and updates your charges from your budget automatically, and it is totally customizable.

As you get your budget on track, don’t be discouraged by hiccups along the way. The great thing about a budget is it’s flexible, and you actually have built-in safeguards for emergencies and unexpected events. If you get anxious, just put more money toward those areas for a while. Getting back on track with your budget will save you time, money, and put you in the best position to succeed in the future.

These Cities Cost Student Loan Borrowers Most

These Cities Cost Student Loan Borrowers Most

These Cities Cost Student Loan Borrowers MostStudent debt is one of our country’s most pressing problems. As of this year, the total amount of student loan debt has reached $1.44 trillion. Paying back the average $37,000-plus loan will be a challenge for millions of students for decades to come. And for some more than others. This means that loan borrowers will have to focus less on investing and more on repayment, less on contributing to the economy and more on simply balancing budgets.

To be responsible and to flourish do not always coincide. Larger cities with higher housing costs will drain more income from a person than smaller towns, while yet offering unique opportunities and venues that attract younger crowds. It’s a classic catch-22. More, perhaps higher-paying, jobs are in the cities, and so are, quite likely, friends and opportunities. Should a young person, with their whole life ahead of them, forgo the city to repay steep student debt, while in the long-term stifling their social life and career?

Credible.com has helped us answer this question in some form: by compiling a list of “Cities where student loan borrowers struggle with debt the most.” Maybe the answer isn’t to forsake the city in general, but only certain cities that have the unfortunate characteristic of demanding higher housing costs without proportionately offering higher wages.

To compile their list, the team at Credible reviewed data submitted by 8,981 applicants from America’s 23 largest cities. The city that makes it most difficult to repay a student loan is San Jose, California, seizing on average 31.47% of a person’s monthly income in housing and student loan costs. This percentage doesn’t include other expenses like food, transportation, or taxes.  What might come as a surprise to many, Dallas, Texas, ranked least expensive among the top 23 cities, nabbing 26.24% of income.

The full list may be found here. Perhaps the question isn’t whether to move to a city, but in which city one might sustainably live. As student loans are one of the few forms of debt that are essentially impossible to dissolve by bankruptcy, they are here to stay. The road that leads directly to a good life, debt free, full of friends and possibilities, isn’t clear to student loan borrowers at this point. However, thanks to the new study by Credible.com, it’s easier to discern which steps one may take to begin the journey.

tips when searching for apartments

Things to Consider before Signing the Lease

tips when searching for apartmentsThink about What You Can’t Change

The most important thing to remember before signing a lease is you can’t change some things. This just means that some things you should be certain that you’ll be okay with before you sign the lease. If not, you may end up upset, with eight months left on your lease. Put yourself in the best situation by remembering the following things when exploring your rental options.

Property Manager

You cannot change your property manager. Of course, your property manager might change while you’re a resident, especially if you are a long-term resident. But you need be sure that your personality will mesh with your property manager’s personality and communication style. That’s not to say you’ll have to be the same person or you’ll need to be friends, but just that you can understand where they’re coming from.

Neighbors

Your neighbors will change. But some neighbors may stay at the apartment property longer than you. Before you sign the lease, it’s a good idea to attend a community event the apartment community is involved in. Or, even, hold one yourself. Have a cookout, or set one up with the property management staff, for the community.

Seasons

Like most people, you’ll probably visit different apartment communities during the spring and summer seasons. But a good air conditioner in the summer doesn’t equal a good furnace in the winter. Ask neighbors about how the apartments change with the seasons.

Lease

You must read your lease. You can’t change it once you sign it. It’ll tell you the responsibilities of your property manager and your own obligations while you’re a resident. This will be your guide for certain policies as well. Most of all, if you find something unacceptable in your lease, talk with the property manager about it. You might get it changed.

Think as if Your Apartment is Permanent

The best thing to do when looking at apartments is to pretend you’ll be living at the apartments permanently. This may open up your eyes to things you may not focus on. For instance, you might think to ask about how old the water heater is. You might think about the water pressure, and how much utilities generally cost.

Pretending your apartment will be permanent is a good way to come up with questions to understand your move-in situation better. Then there’ll be no surprises. Remember, if you have any questions about the apartment you’re visiting, don’t leave it unanswered. Ask the property manager and do your own research.

renting is greener than owning

How Renting is Greener than Owning

renting is greener than owningWhen you think about it, the average apartment unit size per family size is probably smaller than the average house size per family size. This, at the outset, gives an advantage to renters: with a smaller area, you’ll use less energy to provide heating or cooling to satisfy the same amount of people. But some statistics, provided by the Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario in 2012, may surprise you. It turns out that renting is significantly greener than owning.

Statistics[i]

APARTMENTS ARE GREENER THAN SINGLE FAMILY HOMES

  • 65% less energy use per household
  • 40% less water per capita
  • 60% less waste 10 km shorter commute distance to work

RENTERS ARE GREENER THAN OWNERS

  • 50% less energy used per household 8.4 km shorter commute each day
  • 32% less likely to use a car
  • 150% more likely to take transit
  • 175% more likely to walk

This is good news. Not only is the rental market booming in the United States, but other green initiatives are combing to create a market climate better for the environment and better for our wallets.

Could there be a better time to rent?

 


[i]Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario. (2012, February 08). Apartment Living Is Green. Retrieved August 23, 2016, from frpo.org, http://web.archive.org/web/20140208064830/http://www.frpo.org/documents/2012%20Apartment%20Living%20is%20Green.pdf

Budget Worksheet

How to Create a Basic Budget

how to save moneyMoney in the future isn’t a matter of relying on every paycheck coming in exactly as expected. If you save up, the future looks a lot different. You can plan trips and large purchases ahead of time. It’ll take all the stress out of spending, and it’ll take a lot of stress out of living. Here are some tips to get you started.

Establish Goals

Why do you make money? To pay bills? What else? Do you want to fund a hobby, go on a trip, plan for a future child’s schooling? If you create goals, you’ll be able to reach them with financial plans—estimate how much you need, how much you make, and how much time you’ll have, then the rest is easy. These considerations are the foundations for any budget.

Basic Budgeting

Some people hate this word. But budgeting is the only way to get your money to work for you. Of course, you work to earn money, but have you thought about the ways in which you can, now, become more independent from your earnings? That’s what making your money work for you means.

When you’re hanging out with friends, or that new video game is released, it’s easy to blow the latest paycheck. In these situations, it can seem like your always chasing that next payday. Create an expense sheet. List all your monthly expenses—estimate if you need to, for your food and gas costs, for instance. Then add all your income per month together. Now subtract your expenses from your income. The money left over is free for you to save or assign to different goals or wants for the rest of the month. It’s a good policy, however, to try to save at least ten percent of what you make monthly in a savings account. And many people recommend only spending about 5% of your monthly budget for entertainment.

This is just an extremely basic budgeting strategy. But there are plenty of strategies available online. Whatever you do, plan ahead!

2 Budget Breaking Habits

2 Budget Breaking Habits

2 Budget Breaking HabitsBudgeting allows you to buy the things you need now while saving for the future. It’s important that the habits you develop on the go don’t break your budget. Identifying whether you have these habits may save your money and your budget.

Savings

If there is a single reason to budget, it’s probably to save for the future. Having a savings account is a crucial step in this process. And, with some banks, you can link your savings to your debit card to protect you from overdraft fees and charges.

But more importantly, the purpose of savings is to save your money. So transferring money from your savings too often is a budget breaking habit. One way to ditch this habit is to exclude the money in your savings from your monthly planning. Don’t even consider it as a backup, in case you need more money for the month. Just let it sit in savings, indefinitely, collecting interest.

Smaller Purchases

A Starbucks coffee. A lunch from that restaurant at work. A video game. Another coffee from Starbucks. A shirt. Dinner from Little Caesars. These purchases add up. Pretty soon you could spend $50 to $100 in a day without noticing.

Purchasing on the go without accounting for it in your budget is a budget breaking habit. When you’re creating your budget, apportion money, weekly or daily, for small, miscellaneous purchases. This should allow some wiggle room for coffees and, maybe once in a while, a pizza. But whatever you do, don’t buy something if you haven’t accounted for it in your budget. That way, you’ll always be safe.

Conclusion

Creating a budget is an important step toward creating a better future for yourself. It’s an easy way to plan ahead and save. It’s also a stress-free way of enjoying yourself in the present: because you know that bill a month from now will be paid off with the money you’ve set aside for it. But a budget won’t work if you develop bad habits. If you have them, break these two habits, or they will break your budget.