There are few moments in life that are more exciting than moving into your first apartment. However, it can also be one of the most challenging moments in your life as well. For many, having to balance your life between school, work, family and social life can be overwhelming. For the first time in your life you are faced with new questions that need answers: How are you going to furnish your new place? What food will be your staples? How much money can you really afford to spend when going out? Whether you are in West Chester off campus student housing or in a residential apartment, we believe these first apartment tips will help you save money while keeping your sanity.

Know Your Limits

There is nothing worse than committing to something only to find out later that unless you sell a kidney, you can’t afford it. Be realistic from the start. An extra $100 a month might not seem like a lot of money when you’re looking at a place that you really, really want, but…an $1200 a year could quite literally be the cost of your books for an entire year or price you pay for taking away luxury of a pretty solid vacation. If you are student and taking out student loans, that additional $1200 you are tacking on may cost you $5,000 over the course of a 20 year student loan repayment plan. Experts say your rent should never be above 25-30% of your gross income. If it is, you have to reconsider your options.

Divide and Conquer

Another first apartment tip that will certainly help you save money is to consider a roommates and to agree upon equally divide up the cost of utilities. I know this may seem like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised with how many people simply divide it up by utility, meaning one person covers the entire bill. This is a recipe for disaster. One person will always be paying more than their fair share. In addition, consider using something Billshark to negotiate the lowering of your current bills.

Share in the Harvest

If you are going to have roommates sharing your first apartment with you, a great way to save tons of money and also build deeper more meaningful relationships is sharing in the food shopping. Now, this doesn’t have to be for every item in the cupboard and fridge, we all have dietary restrictions or special foods we wish to be selfish with. But…this could mean sharing in the purchase of condiments, spices, and staple items such as coffee and milk. In addition, if you are really committing to get to know the people you live with you could share in purchasing items for a couple of communal meals a week where you plan and cook together and share the meal. This is an incredible way to truly build strong, life-long relationships.

Cut the Cord

Unless you’re perpetually living in 1995, wearing a pair of lava washed jeans with a scrunchy in your hair, the idea that you ‘need’ Cable is ridiculous. We recommend negotiating pricing on killer high-speed internet and utilize applications to fill the entertainment gap. Verizon, Dish, At&T, and Comcast are constantly pitting against each so don’t be afraid to push back on listed pricing and make sure you lock into that pricing for more than a year. By cutting the cable cord you could literally save $100 to $200 a month! That is a pretty significant savings.

Think ECO

How much money of yours is going out the window? Literally, you need to check! A drafty window could cost you serious money over time in additional heating costs. You can use bubble warp seal the window during the winter months. In addition, if your rental has one of those old-school mercury thermostats…they can easily be replaced with a cheaper, more efficient thermostat that will greatly reduce your heating costs by establishing exactly times of the times of day you want your apartment to be warmer and when you can reduce the heat when it’s empty. In addition, move furniture away from heat ducts; you are quite literally heating the furniture when they are right up against it. Finally, switch out those old incandescent bulbs in your first apartment to LEDs. The cost of LEDs continue to go down and these will greatly reduce your energy costs all year round.