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How Much Should I Spend on Rent? Find Your Answer Here

How Much Should I Spend on Rent? Find Your Answer Here

Renting is a great option for individuals unable to build or purchase a home of their own. Your job could take you places and you’d need convenient and affordable rented accommodation to manage your life.

How much should you spend on rent? Keep in mind that the rent amount varies considerably from one location to the next. So, avoid renting a house that blows a fat chunk out of your monthly paycheck. This is easier said than done, considering how the rent is increasing quicker than incomes in many cities.

However, it’s never too late to bring your finances under control. Never pay too much rent; instead, move into affordable accommodations. Asking the following questions before signing the lease can positively impact your budget:

What amount of home rent can I afford?

Consider your present economic situation as well as your income before settling on the amount to set aside for rent every month.

Thus, when looking for a new place, check your budget to see what expenditures you’re already handling, such as food, insurance and transportation. Pick a location that enables you to reside comfortably, while leaving a sufficient amount left over for paying off loans.

Be aware of the location of the apartment as it will decide the rent you must afford. For example, apartments situated in high-cost rental markets are worth getting a roommate. Even if you are not a big fan of sharing your living space, rooming with another person can save you hundreds, and in some cases, thousands.

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In fact, it might not be a wise decision to rent a place on your own. Landlords in certain areas desire tenants whose annual income is minimum 40 times greater than the monthly rental fee. What this means is, to get a $2,500 apartment, you will have to earn at least $100,000 before taxes.

However, having a roommate lets your split the cost while a guarantor can pay the rent on your behalf if you risk defaulting on your payment.

It might be a good idea to crunch numbers prior to viewing potential housing units. After all, your rent budget will depend on the monetary amount you’re paid after deducting taxes. Simply checking your annual salary before meeting a landlord or a broker might land you in hot water later.

Make sure you take moving costs into account, along with furniture-related expenses. A secret stash for emergency situations might also be a good idea.

What is the 30 percent threshold?

Now, it is true that every person has unique social, personal and financial circumstances. Despite all this, don’t exceed 30 percent of your household income when it comes to rent and utilities.

For that reason, rent a house that costs way below 30 percent of your gross monthly income. So, a person earning $3,000 each month, should keep aside no more than $900 when it comes to housing-related expenses.

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You might be wondering what’s so special about 30 percent. Well, you’ll be surprised to know that this is the percentage used by the government to decide who is qualified to enjoy public housing initiatives and programs since the year 1981.

Statistically, households spending over 30 percent on housing expenses become cost-burdened. Those shelling out 50 percent or more of their salary on housing costs are deemed severely cost-burdened.

A 2015 report from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies found that 21.3 million cost-burdened renters exist as of 2014. So, nearly half of all these people are exceeding their rent capacity.

However, given that so much time has passed since 30 percent became the standard measure of housing affordability, many question the validity of this number. Critics claim it overlooks the variations in household size and cost of living.

Single individuals without dependents might not have an issue paying 30 percent of their monthly income on housing, but a person supporting a family of four might not have sufficient money to get by.

At the same time, a family might think it is worthwhile to spend the 30 percent on rent costs if it means getting closer to better public transportation or better educational institutions.

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Can I go for the 50/30/20 budget?

If you’re undecided on the rent amount, try the 50/30/20 method.

According to this guideline, renters can spend 50 percent of their take-home pay on monthly essentials like utilities, groceries, transportation, and so on.

Then 30 percent of their after-tax money should be used for non-essentials like entertainment. This 30% should also absorb expenses related to important purchases that make your lifestyle better and more fulfilling.

Right from experiential purchases such as a vacation to the Caribbean islands or a wine workshop, to health and beauty products– everything should fit in to this budget. Considering how we’re in a price sensitive economy, this is easily achievable. The trick is to look for specialized retailers that can fulfil your lifestyle product and service requirements at affordable prices.

So, puzzled whether to bring home cool products? Make some space in this 30%.

The remaining 20 percent would then go towards paying off loans, retirement savings and other financial targets. If you can plan the other two portions better and keep on adding to this 20% segment, you’ll be better off by clearing your liabilities sooner than planned.

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Of course, the 50/30/20 budget isn’t a one-for-all deal. For example, individuals on the cusp of retirement and without any substantial savings might have to cut back on their spending and spend more than 20 percent of their income on retirement accounts.

The big takeaway

In short: the amount to spend on rent is not set in stone; it is variable.

Of course, the above-mentioned models give you a good idea about the percentage of income you should allot for housing.

But when all’s said and done, you need to take a closer look at the budget in hand and consider the goals who wish to fulfill before taking the final call on the rent amount you can afford.

Renting an apartment is all about knowing what’s best for you and exploring the available options. The housing market is booming in various parts of the world, and you need to pick the opportune moment to secure the best rental amount.

But whatever you do, make sure you do not overspend. After all, whether you’re single or a family man/woman, you have other needs that must be met, and those cost a lot.

So, plan carefully and find a worthwhile apartment that not only costs a reasonable sum each month but gives you a chance to increase your long-term savings.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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Robin Williams

Business Professional, Writer and Blogger

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Last Updated on September 2, 2020

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

2. Keep Goals Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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4. Short Term Vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

  • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
  • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
  • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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5. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

6. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

1. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding:

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

Use compound interest when setting financial goals

    Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

    Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

    4. Measure, Measure, Measure

    All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

    If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

    Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

    The Bottom Line

    Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

    and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

    More Tips on Financial Goals

    Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

    Reference

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