Financial Benefits of Apartment Living

This is a post by Sarah Greesonbach

My husband and I have rented for years and we plan to rent for a few years more. Besides the fact that we don’t know how long we’re interested in living where we are now, we aren’t in a financial place to buy. It’s hard enough keeping our savings account going strong, let alone saving ten to twenty thousand dollars for a down payment!

While I know this means we “throw away money each month” instead of “investing in a long-term asset,” this is the right solution for us right now and it is saving us money in the short term. Here’s just a few of the financial benefits of apartment living that have us happy to live where we do:

  • I rarely drive. Since I work from home and our apartment is located in a mini-downtown type area, I rarely drive. Most months, I drive to church on Sundays and to a social event on Tuesdays, and that’s about it. If we were to buy a house, our price range would put us much farther from my friends and grocery stores, so I would drive a lot more. That would lead to spending more on gas, getting more frequent oil changes, and causing more wear and tear on our car.
  • When things break, we’re not out $500. This is a tried and true reason to rent. When the heat goes out at 9pm, or the toilet overflows with no obvious cause, my husband and I are calling emergency maintenance for free, not plumbers or HVAC companies on overtime. Ideally if you own a house you have a savings account just for these kinds of things, but it’s been a relief to not have to fund a new microwave or dishwasher in the apartments where those items have broken.
  • We don’t spend seasonal outdoor money. Home owners have all kinds of seasonal costs, from mowing and raking (and you need a lawn mower and a rake and time to do it) to salting and shoveling. In our apartment, we have covered parking for our cars and no outdoor space to maintain. This also means we don’t have to worry about seasonal decorations like Christmas lights or pumpkins (though we do get a few pumpkins for the house each year), or mulch and gravel for making the outdoors pretty in the spring and summer.

Those are just three things that come to mind immediately, but I am sure there are more. And that’s why we’re going to continue renting for a few more years until we find our forever home.

Do you rent? Do you love it? At what point are the costs that come with home ownership worth it? 

Do You Have the Money Transfer Bug?

money-256319_1280This post was written by Sarah Greasonbach

My husband and I are still a few weeks into our first time coordinating a Financial Peace University class. It’s been insanely awesome so far, even if I’m not the biggest fan of talking in front of a large group.

The first few lessons of the course revolve around analyzing your spending habits and writing them down on your paper budget. Fun right? (It’s not). It’s especially not fun if you’re a technology-savvy guy or gal like me.

I love spreadsheets. I love quick-add columns. I love moving things around and trying new approaches without having to erase anything. And I especially love being able to transfer money in and out of my account whenever I need to, even if it’s not great for my financial health.

I realized this might be a bad habit when I said it aloud in the group discussion and I got a few weird looks. Apparently most people analyze their budget, transfer their money, and then…. Leave it there. There’s no checking in two or three times a day, moving a few dollars here and there or transferring money in to cover a surprise expense. It’s all taken care of in advance and they don’t check in more than once or twice a month.

…. That’s not me! I don’t know if it’s because I am on an infrequent pay period and we have money coming in all month (and never a set amount, at that), or if I’m just account-happy and we have too many “holding places” for money as it waits to be sent to a bill, but I got to wondering if I was all that weird.

The thought of not checking in on my accounts or being able to make transfers when I need to scares me! It makes me wonder if all my numbers add up perfectly, or if I’ve forgotten about an automatic bill that will cause an overdraft. I also wonder about how my husband’s transactions will hit the account (give or take a dollar for a gas tank fill-up, for example) and whether or not he’s paying attention to the balance.

Now, this is probably where Dave Ramsey’s cash envelopes system will work so well for us. There’s no overdrafting when it’s cash in an envelope. And so we recommit to using those envelopes for gas, food, medical co-pays, and spending money.

Do you check in on or manipulate your online finance accounts often? How often is often? And do you think it affects how much you spend?

4 Crazy-Useful (& Mostly Free) Resources for Cracking the Money Mystery

There are two reasons people have issues managing their money:

1. Ignorance (meaning, you don’t know enough about money management and personal finance to make solid decisions)

2. Self-control issues (we live in a culture where consumerism is rampant and we are obsessed with having everything and having it now).

There are also a slew of issues that come from things like the wage gap, pay inequality, poverty, and various other social issues that I’m not going to get into here (chances are, if you’re reading this, you earn a wage).

But I think that with enough knowledge, the second issue becomes easier to manage. So, how do you learn about money?

Nobody comes out of the womb crunching numbers, investing their savings and calculating their net worth. We all have to learn from somewhere, and it’s clear that that North American school system isn’t that place.

And with an emerging cultural trend of self-directed online education through online courses, articles, eBooks, MOOCs, and countless other platforms, we’re taking it in our own hands.

Here are a few ways to learn about personal finance on your own so you can up your money game and start making awesome decisions about your cash.

Podcasts

BlogShareImage_MoMoneyPodcastI’m a HUGE fan of podcasts.

I have one of my own, and I listen to them constantly. When I’m driving, working out, walking anywhere, or doing anything mindless, I’m listening to a podcast.

I find audio learning the perfect way to learn something at my convenience.

I suggest my friend Jessica’s podcast, from Mo Money Mo Houses. She just launched and her episodes so far are great. Jess has the perfect radio voice and you always go away having learned something.

It’s a millennial focused podcast with interviews new guests each week about their personal money story. Topics include getting out of debt, doing a shopping ban, trying to overcome their inner shopaholic, quitting their 9 to 5 to become a solopreneur, starting a side hustle, money and relationships and more.

If you enjoy her podcast I highly recommend you leave a review here (every review helps – take it from a podcaster!) and subscribe to Jess’s show.

Jess is also hosting a giveaway to celebrate the launch of her podcast for:

You can (and should!) enter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway.

Books

I don’t think books will ever go out of style.

Think about it – when you think of learning anything, what do you think of? For me, it’s picking up a book.

There are some amazing books out there about money, and you’d be surprised as to how much you’ll learn from each one – even if you think you already know everything about personal finance. I’m a blogger on the topic and I still learn something from every finance book I read.

Some great books are:

  • Anything from Gail Vaz Oxlade
  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad
  • The Wealthy Barber
  • Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money: The Handbook of Financial Peace University
  • MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom

Everyone will have a different style, so some of these books might not jive well with you, but you won’t know until you pick them up.

If you find yourself solid on one financial topic (ie budgeting) but lacking knowledge in another (ie investing), there are plenty of books about each topic so don’t worry about running out.

Blogs and Online Publications

I’m obviously a huge fan of blogs.

Hopefully you are too (otherwise you might be hate reading this =) ). And I’ve learned a crazy amount of information about money from blogs and online magazines (like FastCompany).

There are hundreds (if not thousands) of personal finance blogs out there, touching on every topic from investing to home ownership, to saving and budgeting and more, so it’s difficult to make any recommendations, but spend some time on a handful of blogs getting to know the author and the style.

Every once in awhile you’ll land on the perfect blogger/reader match and you’ll be hooked.

Courses and Products

Big, commercial courses and products are sometimes too faceless to be effective when it comes to learning about personal finance – after all, the word personal is used in there.

So once you find your favorite blogger (or two, or three) or authority on money who you trust, see if they have any products or courses you can sign up for to teach you a bit more about personal finance.

There are a ton out there and they can be mind-blowingly useful.

 

There’s no need to wallow in ignorance about money. We all need to start learning somewhere, so start where you are – and with what you have. Podcasts, books, blogs and courses are some of the best places to start.