Between tax breaks, insurance benefits and dual income, it sometimes feels like couples get all the financial perks. But the flexibility to live on your own terms and a few budget-friendly habits, like these five, can help singles even the playing field and reduce some of the biggest household costs.
Schedule your next move for mid-month.
According to Apartment Guide, we’re right in the middle of the cheapest time of year (December through March) to rent an apartment—no small thing if you aren’t splitting the rent with roommates. And if you’re able to schedule a move for mid-month, as opposed to the beginning, it can save you more money.
Why? Empty units have probably been sitting vacant for longer than property managers want, which gives you some negotiation leverage. Another tip: Refresh online apartment listings between 9 and 10 a.m., which is when new ones tend to hit the Internet.
Curb your energy bill.
Utility companies like Duke Energy and Con Edison offer budget-billing programs that spread your average spend over the course of 12 months. This means you'll get the same energy bill every month—no surprises—which can simplify the budgeting process.
You may be able to save even more by being diligent about your energy usage. Bonus: If you live alone, you don’t have to listen to anyone else complain about how hot or cold you keep the place.
During warmer months, you can give your AC a rest and opt for fans instead. Alternatively, Pacific Gas and Electric Company recommends keeping your thermostat between 75 and 78 degrees when you're home (85 degrees when you're gone for more than a few hours). In the winter, the magic temp is 68 degrees or lower. But every degree you can tap down the thermostat potentially shaves 3 percent off your bill.
Step up your grocery game.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it's possible to maintain a complete, nutritious diet for $208 to $240 per month—though it’ll requiring some planning on the front end.
Stacy Caprio, a 27-year-old blogger in Chicago, takes advantage of sales to stock her freezer with everything from fruit to meat to premade appetizers and meals. "My strategy is to buy the more expensive items when they are on sale and keep them in the freezer until I need or want them," she says, adding that she saves up to $10 to $15 per shopping trip.
My dad and I have a deal: I pay for Netflix and Hulu, he pays for Amazon Prime—then we share all our logins. We don't live together, but we both reap the benefits. Dustyn Ferguson, a 21-year-old blogger in Newport, R.I., has even shared WiFi with neighbors to cut his bill in half. “Just make sure you do this with a neighbor you trust, as sharing WiFi can put your data at risk,” he says.
Five years ago, Riley Adams, a 30-year-old Certified Public Accountant in New Orleans, moved into his own 400-square-foot condo and installed a Murphy bed to make the most of his small space. While his housing payment remained the same as when he had roommates, he saved $115 a month on gas and parking because the condo was within walking distance from his office.
Turns out, 89 percent of “tiny house owners” have less credit card debt than the average American, according to the Tiny House Society. They also have more money in the bank.
Even if tiny-home living doesn’t appeal, living with less can still save you money, whether you’re decluttering and selling your castoffs for a profit or simply spending less to maintain your things.