Living on Your Own in Los Angeles? 5 Tips For Sticking to Your Budget

Young woman cleaning at home, she has a cleaning day and using aMoving out into your own apartment in Los Angeles is exciting. Whether you just got your own place or you’re moving out for the first time, you’re going to have a big financial responsibility on your hands. Most people are unaware of the financial burden of living on their own, especially in a pricey area like LA. Regardless of how comfortable your budget is right now, there are some ways you can ruin your budget. These five tips will help you avoid those budget woes and stay on track each month.

Pay Bills Before They’re Due

Don’t be late if you can. Late fees can add up and really hurt your budget. If you find yourself paying bills past their due date, make a habit of setting bill reminders — or have the bills automatically deduct from your account. If you can, pay the bills a few days before they’re due to make sure your account is credited and everything is processed.

Pay More on Credit Cards When You Can

If you have a credit card balance, pay extra when you can. Interest can really eat up your payments — making your balance stay almost the same. If you have the extra funds, put them on your credit cards first. The faster you pay off your credit card debt the faster you can add those monthly payments back into your budget.

Just Say No to Credit Cards

Credit cards are just a bad idea all around. Even if you owned a home, you should avoid credit cards. With rising interest, fees and late payments, it is easy to get in over your head. Avoid using your credit cards. If you want to buy something but don’t have the cash, wait until you do. Then, leave the credit cards for emergencies only.

Always Be Prepared

You should always be prepared for an emergency. That means putting ample money into your savings just in case you get sick, have to miss a few days of work, etc. As the year goes on in your new apartment, you’re going to have costs. Perhaps you need to buy a new couch or maybe your car got a flat tire. By having money in your savings you can handle these expenses without eating nothing but ramen for the week.

Know When to Ask for Help

Everyone gets in over their head every now and then. If you notice you’re struggling to pay your bills or make rent, talk to your property manager. Some offer late payment forgiveness or may let you out of your lease due to financial hardship. Turn to family and friends when you’re in dire situations. The faster you tackle a financial problem — and keep it from turning into serious debt — the better for your credit score and financial future.

Apr 2014

How Much Money Do You Need to Rent Your First Apartment?

House In Hands Of BusinessmanMoving into your own place is a new adventure. You are in charge of your day, what furniture you have, and you’re finally on your own. But, before you start hunting for your own place, you need to consider the finances. The rental market is pretty tight, and vacancies aren’t as high as they used to be. That means you’ll need to start saving, especially if you want a prime spot downtown.

Get Your Income Straight

You need a steady income if you want to get your own apartment. This isn’t just for your benefit, but most apartment managers require proof of a steady income before they will even give you the apartment. You not only need to have a constant flow of cash, but you need to make sure you have enough left over after rent to pay for other things. The best way to tell how much rent you can afford each month is to take your monthly income and divide it by three. The result is how much, maximum, you can pay each month in rent. So, if you make $1,000 per month, you don’t want a rental payment over $333 per month.

Remember the Security Deposit

Most apartments require a security deposit to hold the apartment and prove you’re capable of paying the rent. Some have a fixed fee, such as $500, while others charge first and last month’s rent. Contact some of the apartment complexes you’re considering and see how much they want for a security deposit. In some cases you might need your first and last month’s rent, plus a security deposit. And, all of that is due the day you want to sign the lease.

Moving Costs

Most people forget about the moving costs. But, it is likely you will need a moving truck or you need to hire a full-service mover. Start pricing these services. If you are going to rent a moving truck, expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $200 for a local rental. If you are thinking of hiring a full-service mover, you could pay a few thousand dollars.


Unless you have lived on your own before, you are going to need to purchase some furniture for the new space. This might include dining room chairs and table, couches or even a new bed. Price out the items you need and start saving. While you don’t have to buy them before you move, it wouldn’t be fun to have your own space without a couch.


Some utilities require you to pay a month ahead – such as internet and cable. So you will want to save for these expenses before you move. Expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $300 per month depending on everything you add.

So How Much Should You Save?

  • Your First and Last Month’s Rent
  • Your Security Deposit
  • Furniture
  • Moving Costs
  • Utility Deposits
Apr 2014

Expenses You Could Cut to Save Hundreds Each Year

scissors cutting receipt from shopThere are always those expenses that everyone needs to keep — groceries, gas, rent, etc. — but there are also expenses that add up and waste hundreds of dollars each year. Let’s face it; living in Los Angeles isn’t cheap. You’ll pay more for gas, have higher food costs and your rent isn’t cheap. So, when you’re looking for ways to cut expenses, consider these easy cuts that can shave off a few hundred each year.

Cut the Gym Membership

Yes, you want to stay fit and healthy, but do you really need a gym for that? Los Angeles is full of outdoor activities and favorable weather. There are plenty of things you could do to stay active, lose weight and stay healthy. Go run on the beach, take a jog to the piers or just walk downtown every day. You’re close to hiking and other activities too — so consider cutting the gym membership and save yourself a few hundred each year.

Stop Buying Clothes Every Month

There is a time to buy new clothes and there is a time to cut back. If you are living paycheck to paycheck, it’s time to stop spending your money on unnecessary clothing purchases. You can, however, set aside money each month to go toward a general “new clothes fund” and then go shopping every other month.

Make Coffee at Home

Even if you aren’t buying gourmet coffee drinks at Starbucks, those $1 and $2 coffee purchases at the local gas station will add up — especially if you’re buying them every day. Consider this, coffee purchased five days a week is $5 or $20 per month. That adds up to $240 per year that you could use buying an espresso machine and high-quality coffeemaker to brew with at home.

Stop Bottled Water Purchases

Bottled water is convenient, but it is also expensive and wasteful. $1.50 for a bottle of water adds up. Instead, buy a water filtration system for the home and reusable water bottles. You can save several hundred dollars each year and also significantly reduce the amount of waste you contribute to the environment.

Skip Magazine Subscriptions

Magazine subscriptions are budget wasters. Most magazines have free issues online or similar articles on their website. You could save up to $30 per year per subscription just by cutting out the unnecessary subscription fees.

If you are ready to cut back on expenses, consider these ideas first. Also, with the housing market booming in southern California, don’t be opposed to looking for a new apartment. There are plenty of apartments offering discounts or better rates than what you’re paying now, which could also help you save.

Mar 2014

Ways to Cut Your Apartment Utility Costs

Row Of Utility MetersEven living in an apartment can be costly when it comes to utilities. But, there are things you can do to avoid breaking your budget on your lighting. Just because you are renting doesn’t mean you can’t save money on utilities, but you will have to get a little more creative.

Take Care of the Energy Consumers

Look at your apartment and see what you have plugged in. Are you using it right now? How often do you use it? Even when items are turned off, if they are plugged in they are going to draw power and raise your electricity bills. It is estimated that $10 billion dollars is wasted every year on appliances and items that are plugged in but not being used.

You can also use smart power strips, which cost around $40 to buy, but can save you up to $100 per year. These keep your appliances and powered items from drawing excess power while they’re plugged in.

Work on the Thermostat

You can’t control the air conditioning unit or furnace that is installed on your property, but you can control what you set your thermostat to. In the winter, throw on a sweatshirt or wear a few extra blankets in bed instead of turning up the thermostat to a higher temperature. By lowering your thermostat, you can actually save up to three percent each year on your heating costs — or up to $189 per year. The same goes for the summer. Instead of turning on the air conditioner, open the windows, wear lighter layers, or use a fan. Try to avoid a top-level apartment if you can, because these stay toasty in the winter, but get extremely hot in the summer. And, because most of California enjoys 60 degrees Fahrenheit or higher year-round, that top-level apartment could run hot all year.

Change Your Shower Head

You will need to check with your manager before swapping out showerheads. But once you get the green light, use a water-saving showerhead. If you hate waiting for the shower to heat up, try a ShowerStart adapter. This fits over your current showerhead and can help conserve the hot water. With a family of three in an apartment that could save thousands of gallons in water and decrease your water bill significantly.

Change the Bulbs

Energy-efficient bulbs can be used in your lamps and light fixtures throughout the apartment. These will cut your power costs each year. While they don’t save you hundreds of dollars, you will notice your power bill is a little cheaper.

These methods are easy to implement and when used in combination, could save you hundreds each year on your utility costs. Even though you’re not in control of everything while renting, there are things you can do to help lower your utility costs and stay in control of your monthly expenses.

Feb 2014