Eight Money Saving Tips For Renters

by Katy on November 17, 2016 · 2 comments

This blog post first appeared over at ClarkHoward.com

Do you click on money saving articles only to find that everything is geared towards homeowners? Well then, you’re one lucky renter, as every single tip in this article is especially for you!

Insulate your windows

We’re headed into chilly weather, and with that comes the challenge of staying warm in a rental unit which may be poorly insulated. However, the cost of a window insulation kit is very affordable, just look at this $4.98 two-pack from Home Depot that promises to “keep warm air in and cold drafts out.” But if you don’t want to spend $2.50 per window, you might try this trick which requires nothing more than bubble wrap and water.

Create a container garden

Don’t let your apartment dwelling status keep you from realizing your dreams of urban farming. Many foods can be grown in containers, and not just Pinterest-worthy ceramic vessels either, as any food grade bucket can be used to grow edibles. And those polyethylene dish pans they sell at Dollar Tree? Also food grade! This Better Homes & Gardens article spells out the specifics of container gardening, as well as which vegetables grow best in this manner. So make room on your balcony and save some money on your produce!

Cover ugly countertops with contact paper

No, you can’t make permanent decor changes when you’re a renter, but there are a number of temporary hacks that can help align your aesthetic with the reality of living in someone else’s property. This decor savvy tenant achieved impressive results with nothing more than a roll of marble printed contact paper to cover her ugly green bathroom counters. And the best part is that it easily peeled back up when it was time to move.

Choose wisely

Not every housing market allows you to be picky when choosing a rental unit, but for those who can, keep these three things in mind.

  1. Prioritize rentals that are within walking distance of public transportation.
  2. Choose a center unit. By having neighbors to the sides, above and below, you’ll lower your heating and cooling costs.
  3. Avoid basement apartments, which have a higher incidence of mold and dampness issues.

Switch over to LED bulbs

The price of LED bulbs has drastically lowered in recent years, and many local utility companies will simply give them out with a free home energy audit. This website even has a energy savings calculator to calculate “the real value of switching to energy efficient bulbs.”

Air dry your laundry

You may be banned from setting up a clothesline in a public area, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use an indoor clothes rack. I’m a fan of the sturdy $14.99 Ikea Frost rack, which folds away into almost nothing when not in use. But if you live in one of the 19 states or multiple communities with “Right to Dry” legislation, you might even be able to set up a full size clothesline.

Protect your deposit

Make sure to do a walk through when first renting any property and make note of any damage that’s already in place. Note that damage on your lease and also document with your camera. Communicate with your landlord about any issues that arise and keep a log of any communication and refer to it upon move out. You probably won’t need all this, but you’ll never regret being thorough.

Make yourself useful

If you’re handy and have a good relationship with your landlord, you might be able to do upkeep in exchange for a break in the rent. Whether you have handy-person skills or are blessed with a green thumb, it’s worth exploring in the name of saving some serious moolah.


Being a renter doesn’t mean that there aren’t tricks to seriously lower your expenses. The property may not belong to you, but there are still multiple ways to keep your budget under control.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mrs. Picky Pincher November 17, 2016 at 1:08 pm

So much yes to this suggestion about the deposit! We regularly shampooed our carpets (I bought a carpet shampooer during a Black Friday sale years ago) and did deep cleaning, including the stovetop and oven.

Before we moved out, we took detailed videos and pictures of every inch of the apartment. Our apartment complex was known to be pretty sketchy, so we didn’t want to be on the hook for unwarranted charges. To my surprise, they refunded our entire deposit without any hassle! I’m glad for the carpet cleaner!


JD November 17, 2016 at 1:33 pm

These are good suggestions. About growing things on the balcony: when my husband lived in an apartment because he worked across the state from home, he grew vining tomatoes on a homemade trellis on his balcony, hung red and white vincas in hanging pots, and kept some herbs growing out there. He spent very little on the pots and plants, growing some from seed. He asked for and was gifted with a nice white outdoor rocker so he could enjoy sitting out there, ending up with a cute and productive balcony for very little money. He won a $25.00 gift card for having the “balcony of the month,” so it might even pay to use your balcony to grow things.
And you are right about letting the other apartments around yours help heat and cool yours — he had a low utility bill each month for that very reason.


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