Rent Poor? There Are Some Tips to Follow

    Pop Paul-Catalin /
    Pop Paul-Catalin /

    Rent is an unavoidable expense in our budgets: We can’t magically reduce our monthly rent payments because we want to put more aside for our savings. And it’s hard to find a less expensive rental when there’s steep competition and rent prices keep soaring. The most we can do is try to negotiate with our landlords.

    Some 32% of Gen Zers spend more than half of their monthly income on housing alone, according to Credit Karma. Though many personal finance experts still promote a version of the one-third rule — which says that only a third of your income should go toward housing costs — that guidance feels outdated, especially in most US cities.

    1. Start a side hustle

    I started dog-sitting for family members over the holidays to make extra money, and it turned into a legit side hustle. I make between $200 and $1,000 a month, and I’ve found all my dog-sitting clients through word of mouth. I have many friends who would rather leave their dogs with me than pay high prices to board them, so it’s a mutually beneficial situation. If you need help getting started, try posting on Nextdoor or signing up for a dog-walking app like Wag or Rover.

    2. Find a roommate

    You’re probably thinking, “Duh,” but having a roommate saves you money on rent and shared household expenses like internet and utilities. I save anywhere from $65 to $100 monthly by splitting the internet and utility bills with my roommate. We also share the cost of miscellaneous expenses, such as the coffee pods for our espresso machine, toiletries, cleaning supplies and kitchen essentials.

    3. Negotiate your rent

    When your lease ends and your landlord sends you a rent increase notice, did you know you could negotiate it? It’s easy to accept the change and move on. However, taking the time to build your case as a responsible tenant might pay off. Reach out to your landlord like my colleague Katherine Watt did. She saved $1,200 by writing an email. Self-advocacy is a powerful financial tool.

    4. Find a short-term sublet

    If you live alone or with a partner, find a short-term sublet to bring in a little extra money. Just check to see if you need permission from your landlord first. As a renter, you can’t make passive income from a sublet, but you can save some money on your portion of the rent. For example, a friend of mine who is a teacher relies on a short-term sublet in her second bedroom for three months during her summer break. She typically travels during that time, so having a short-term roommate helps her maintain the house and pay half the rent.

    5. Rent out your parking spot

    If you’re like me and don’t have a car (I drive a moped), a parking space doesn’t mean much to you. But if you live in an area where street parking is tricky to come by, you can earn easy income by renting out your parking space. Make sure this doesn’t violate your lease agreement beforehand.

    6. Do building maintenance for reduced rent

    Depending on the terms of your lease, certain maintenance responsibilities might fall on you, such as replacing the air filter, mowing the lawn or fixing a leaky faucet. It’s worth asking your landlord if you can take on additional building tasks for reduced rent: maintaining a garden, taking out the trash or doing handy work for tenants. My neighbor recently started a compost bin for our building, and the HOA offered to pay her to maintain it. You can get fined in Austin for violating compost requirements, so she’s doing everyone a favor.

    Paying your rent isn’t optional. So, if you find that ends aren’t meeting like they used to, it might be time to get a bit more creative.