The bathroom is probably the only room in your house both you and your guests will use without exception. Yet we rarely think about how cozy or welcoming our bathrooms are, or if they’ll make a good impression on house guests. If you want your bathroom to be welcoming for both you and whoever you have over, here are ten essentials you and any other adult should have:

Quality matching towels

If you’re still using towels made from synthetic fabrics in your late twenties, you need to fix the issue immediately! The same goes for owning mismatched towels with clashing designs. Replace your college-grade ones with fluffy, absorbent, cotton towels and get a few that match. Any guests will be impressed, and every shower will turn into a mini spa experience.

A beautiful shower curtain

There’s no excuse in using the same raggedy, washed-out shower curtain you’ve had since your early twenties. You can find trendy shower curtains pretty much everywhere, so get out there and buy a new one to update your bathroom instantly. You can either find a minimalist curtain that will add some elegance to the space or go crazy with patterns and show off your personality. Design tip: cloth curtains are better than plastic!

A bath mat

There’s nothing like the cozy, clean feeling you get after a hot shower. So why not enhance it by getting a soft bath mat to sink your feet in when you get out of the tub? A bat mat will make you forget about all the times you had to postpone relaxing because you had to mop the floor after a shower; plus, you can get one that will function as décor as well.

Containers for beauty products

Sure, you could keep your cue tips and cotton swabs hidden away in your medicine cabinet in their original packaging, but why do that when you can quickly turn them into decorations for your bathroom? If you have the space, buy a couple of mason jars (or use ones you already have for a cheaper version) and store your everyday items in style.

A drain snake

When you’re living with your parents, you often don’t notice the hidden responsibilities that come with managing a home. However, clogged pipes are one issue you can quickly solve once you’re living on your own. Get your own drain snake and you’ll fix blockages easily without spending money on a plumber or going through the hassle of contacting your landlord.

Odor neutralizing candle or freshener

Even if you don’t personally want to use a scent diffusing product in your bathroom, many of your guests will most definitely be thankful for a scented candle or a freshener in emergencies. Besides upgrading the atmosphere of the space, a scented candle or freshener will go a long way in relieving your guests of potential anxiety-inducing moments.

Good lighting

This one is a must! If you’re an adult, you need great lighting all around the house, and the bathroom is no exception. Your bathroom should be pleasant to be in, and a soft glow will take you far in creating a cozy atmosphere. Also, if you use makeup regularly, you’ll need a quality light setup to achieve creative, well-balanced looks.

Green cleaning products

First off, if you want to boast an adult bathroom, you’re going to need all the cleaning essentials to keep it squeaky clean. But since a lot of bathroom cleaning products are chock full of chemicals and a diverse set of ingredients that waste resources and harm the environment, make sure you stay mindful of your and the planet’s health by buying green.

Originally published in RENTCafé.

In theory, we all know we should be prudent with our finances and save money for rainy days and retirement. However, putting this into practice is easier said than done, when the cost of living is increasing every year and wages are hardly keeping up.

With all the bills that need to be paid every month, the average Canadian is more than likely to end up in debt. It may seem impossible to save money, but don’t worry, where there’s a will, there’s a way to keeping your finances healthy! Here are a few expenses you can cut out of your life to save money:

Eating out too much

Many people don’t realize how much they’re spending on take-outs and restaurants. A simple $10 lunch or a $35 dinner at the restaurant may not sound like a lot at first, but when you consistently eat out, the costs add up quickly.

Take a look at your dining habits for the year and you may be surprised at how much you’re spending eating out. This could cost even more when you live in an expensive city like Vancouver or Toronto.

It’s not to say you should stop eating out altogether. We all want to enjoy life and dining out is one form of entertainment, especially when we want to catch up with friends. Instead, create a good balance between going out and cooking meals at home to save money. You could plan potlucks with your friends and enjoy life without spending a lot of money.

Consider reviewing your food bill (plus your groceries) to see how much you’re really spending each year.

Falling for convenience

With today’s technology, it’s easier than ever to satisfy our need for instant gratification. Just like the trap of eating out, when hunger strikes, we can get food delivered to us with a tap of a finger on food delivery apps.

The convenience of not having to step outside the home to get food may justify the extra charge for delivery but ordering food frequently can definitely eat into our budgets.

Convenience is great, but it usually comes at a high cost. Consider making your own meals at home to cut the calories and expensive delivery fees. Even if you’re new to cooking, you can find many free recipes online that can be prepared in less than 30 minutes. That’s quicker than waiting for your food to be delivered!

Expensive furniture and home décor items

Most of us have a soft spot for nice-looking furniture and décor items. We spend hours at home-décor and furniture shops, often buying overpriced furniture, plus adding some random knick-knack at the checkout. These include things like wall art, small rugs, candleholders, ornaments, and other decorative pieces.

Many of us don’t realize how much money we’re spending on unnecessary things. Often times, these purchases are put aside and stored away until they can be used at a later time. When hidden from our sight, these beautiful pieces slowly turn into clutter over time.

Not only does this waste money, but it’s also a waste of time because many people end up sacrificing their weekends to de-clutter their homes. There are more cost-efficient ways to nicely furnish your home and still save money!

Expensive cell phone and internet bills

These are essentials that are very difficult to avoid today. Being able to save money on these recurring services may not seem like a lot at first, but it adds up.

Instead of paying for the expensive sticker price for cell phone and Internet services, you can make a quick phone call to negotiate for better prices. Many companies prefer to give their customers a discount if they are not happy with the service or looking to bring their business to another competitor.

Be sure to search online for current promotions offered by your service providers and their competitors before you pick up the phone. Knowing the current deals in the market will give you more bargaining power in your negotiations.

It may seem like a bit of work at first, but trust me, it is worth it!

Auto and Renters Insurance

Similar to the expensive cell phone and internet bills, you need to shop around and negotiate for good insurance policies.

Insurance companies offer discounts on their products to certain companies, professionals, and alumni. Don’t miss out on these savings, ask your insurance company whether your employer or school qualify for discounts.

Another way to save money on insurance is to bundle your auto and renters insurance. Most insurance companies will give their customers discounts if they buy both auto and renters insurance from them.

Doing your research and taking the time to look for discounts (along with negotiating) on these big expenses can save you a ton of money!

Keeping unused subscriptions

Did you know that you may be paying for unused subscriptions? Take a look at your past transactions for the last 12 months to see exactly where your money is going.

As you scroll through each month’s transaction, see what monthly subscriptions you’re still paying for. These include things like magazines, Amazon Prime, Spotify, Netflix, etc. It’s completely acceptable to keep the subscriptions if you’re using and enjoying the services.

Some companies try to put fear in customers’ minds by telling them what they’d be missing out by canceling their services. But be honest with yourself and ask whether you’re actually using their services. If not, you want to consider canceling to save money. Don’t fall for the FOMO (fear of missing out) trap!

Buying items at the original price

here are items that never go on sale and it’s perfectly fine to buy them as long as they add value to your life. Other than that, you shouldn’t buy things at the original price without hunting for the same product at the lowest price.

Most people have Internet access, so it’s not hard to look for the best price when you’re shopping for something. You can also use apps like Flipp or Reebee to price match almost any product, including your weekly groceries. You can score significant savings by price matching big-ticket items like TVs, appliances, etc.

Final Tip: Finding the right balance

There are a lot more expenses that you can reduce without sacrificing the quality of your life. Carefully review ALL of your expenses to analyze your past spending behavior. This will allow you to cut your unnecessary spending, which helps with prioritizing your needs and wants.

It’s absolutely fine to spend on things that make you happy and your life more enjoyable. But it’s important to sock away some money for your retirement because you don’t want to end up in financial trouble down the road.

The key to good money management is finding the right balance between saving and spending. This will allow you to enjoy life today while saving money and building wealth for your future.

Originally published in the RENTCafé Blog.

If you grew up in a home that celebrated during the holiday season, you likely have memories of waking up on Christmas morning and finding your neatly wrapped presents awaiting you under your Christmas tree. As an adult living in your apartment, fitting a proper Christmas tree in your home is much more challenging. If you’re living alone, you might be considering forgoing the tree altogether and deciding not to decorate at all – what’s the point of trying to squeeze it in if your family won’t be there to exchange gifts?

Apartment life doesn’t have to mean not decorating, even if your place is super small. There are plenty of ways to bring the holiday cheer into your apartment, and you don’t have to ditch the tree to do it. Below, learn how to decorate your apartment for the holiday season.

Make a tree that’s not a tree

Time to get creative! Even people who don’t celebrate Christmas know what a Christmas tree looks like, so you don’t need to get a real tree to spread the holiday spirit throughout your apartment. Instead, use tissue paper and other basic art supplies to build your own Christmas tree that you can stick to your wall without taking up any much-needed space in your apartment. Plus, this two-dimensional tree can be way easier and less expensive to decorate than that super tall real tree from your childhood.

Let it snow, but not actually

Dreaming of a white Christmas? Bring the illusion of a snowy holiday into your home with paper snowflakes. All you need is plain old printer paper and a pair of scissors, and the instructions are as simple as the materials (feel free to switch it up and go for a fancy paper brown or gold card stock). You can even color your snowflakes green and red for added Christmas imagery! Hang your snowflakes near a window to complete the illusion.

Go wild with wreaths

If you can’t fit a Christmas tree in your apartment, then wreaths can be the next best thing. You can attach them to the outside of your front door so that passerby and visitors feel the holiday spirit every time they see your apartment, and you can hang them on walls throughout your apartment to keep the holiday cheer thriving in your home. Bonus points for any wreaths made of real pine needles – that classic Christmas scent will make your decorations all the more believable.

Get an appropriately small tree

A small apartment doesn’t mean you have to ditch the Christmas tree entirely! In recent years, a growing number of smaller Christmas trees have become available. These trees sometimes occupy such small volumes that they can easily fit in buckets, baskets, vases, and other objects that take up way less of your precious apartment space. Some of these tiny trees are actually entirely different plants from traditional Christmas trees, so your apartment’s holiday decor might just stand out way more than everyone else’s.

Originally published in My First Apartment blog.

The living room is the heart of your home. This is especially true in an era when people are increasingly choosing to entertain themselves and others at home—rather than head out to expensive bars and restaurants every few days.

But, furnishing and decorating an adult living room for both cozy nights in and entertaining guests can be difficult; you want to keep it stylish while also making it comfortable. Fortunately, the suggestions below will optimize your living room for maximum style and comfort.

A Nice Sofa

Your futon may have been with you through thick and thin, but at a certain point, you have to let it go. Revamp your living room by replacing it with a stylish sofa built with a sturdy frame and quality fabric. As you’re shopping for it, keep in mind that the size and design will need to fit your space.

A Coffee Table

A beautiful couch alone will go a long way in upping your living room style. But, it will have a much greater influence if you couple it with a chic coffee table. Choose any design that you think will fit the overall tone, but make sure the height and size match the couch and the available space.

Decorative Pillows

No adult living room should be without decorative pillows; they’re a great way to add a personal touch to the space and can tie together various design elements. To decorate like a pro, get a few different sets of pillows, and mix and match them depending on your mood or the occasion.

A bookshelf

Even though we’re all using our devices more often for reading, physical books are still a must for most adults. Design a welcoming living room and show your books the respect they deserve with a beautiful bookshelf—which also offers extra storage space for any decorative items you want to display.

An area rug

A trendy area rug is a must in any adult living room. Even if you have impeccable hardwood floors, an area rug can act as a centerpiece to your living room. For instance, a quirky pattern can add a bright spot to an otherwise minimalist design, whereas a pure, neutral color can tone down a colorful room.

No adult living room should be without decorative pillows; they’re a great way to add a personal touch to the space and can tie together various design elements. To decorate like a pro, get a few different sets of pillows, and mix and match them depending on your mood or the occasion.

A bookshelf

Even though we’re all using our devices more often for reading, physical books are still a must for most adults. Design a welcoming living room and show your books the respect they deserve with a beautiful bookshelf—which also offers extra storage space for any decorative items you want to display.

An area rug

A trendy area rug is a must in any adult living room. Even if you have impeccable hardwood floors, an area rug can act as a centerpiece to your living room. For instance, a quirky pattern can add a bright spot to an otherwise minimalist design, whereas a pure, neutral color can tone down a colorful room.

An adult living room isn’t complete without houseplants. Plants make the space look brighter while also purifying the air, and with all of the varieties available, you’re sure to find a few you like. Get a striking planter to match, and you’re on your way to your very own home garden.

Wall art

If you don’t already have at least a couple of paintings or prints in your home, then it’s time to start decorating your walls. Family pictures are great, but a real adult household comes with at least a few pieces that will elevate your living room’s design and help you impress any potential guests with your taste.

An audio system

Once you’re on your own and can afford to spend a couple of extra bucks on your entertainment setup, start shopping for a quality audio system. You haven’t lived until you’ve enjoyed all of the intricate subtleties that come with a great movie score or an excellent music album.

A boardgame

Not everyone’s a fan of board games. However, at some point, you’ll get bored with the basic dinner party and movie night, or you’ll grow tired of playing charades with your friends. That’s why you should purchase at least one board game; it will give you something to do, and you’ll connect with your friends and loved ones in a new way.

At Globe Property Management, we are proud to offer a number of rental properties with both unique property features and rich historical backgrounds.

Originally featured in RENTCafé.

Your apartment doesn’t have to be a cookie-cutter, boring space. While you can’t make permanent changes to it, there are still plenty of ways to turn it into a cozy home where your personal style truly shines. From window curtains to colorful rugs and wall decorations, here are some high-impact tips for overcoming décor challenges in your apartment.

TREAT THE WALLS

Light, neutral colors are the go-to for landlords – white, beige, or very light grays, to be exact. That’s not a bad idea per se, as these colors match with everything and make apartments look bigger and brighter. However, if you’re sick and tired of neutral shades and you just want some color, there are simple ways you can brighten your walls without having to beg your landlord for permission to paint.

One very easy, inexpensive, and artistic solution is to use fabric as wall décor. You can use any type of fabric – an oversized scarf, a small rug, or any other attractive piece of cloth featuring colors and patterns that you love.

Decide which wall you want to turn into the main focal point of the room. Drape the fabric over a portion of the wall, hanging it with command hooks. Make sure that the fabric’s colors and patterns harmonize with other decorative elements in the room. Don’t overcrowd the focus wall – an eye-catching fabric is all that’s needed. You can add a simple accent, such as a string of fairy lights, if desired.

SPLURGE ON HIGH-QUALITY WINDOW COVERINGS

Never underestimate the ability of well-chosen curtains to completely revamp and “dress up” a home! Window coverings can make a room bright and cheerful, or alternatively, tranquil and cool. Curtains and drapes provide that sense of intimacy and coziness you’re craving, so take your time and choose the right ones for each room.

Think about what you want to achieve before purchasing your new window treatments and take the local climate into account. If you’re living somewhere warmer, you probably need blinds or thick, lined curtains to filter the bright midday sun. However, if you live in a colder province, where sunny days are in short supply, you should consider light, flowy curtains and bright colors (i.e., yellow, orange) to bring some extra warmth into your home.

Combine blinds and curtains to enjoy both shade and sun, depending on the season and time of day. Choose a solid color for the blinds and reserve prints and patterns for the curtains, as prints on both can be overpowering. To make small windows look larger, choose floor-to-ceiling curtains that are wide enough to extend past the window frame, covering part of the wall on both sides.

DEAL WITH YOUR CLUTTER

Apartments usually lack in the storage space department, but that’s no reason to let clutter take over your home. You can allow a little bit of clutter here and there – a stack of books on your coffee table, or some extra blankets on the sofa – because that’s actually cozy and cute. However, a home where every available surface is crowded is anything but inviting.

Take a day, or an entire weekend, to get your clutter under control. Go through your clothes, papers, and miscellaneous items, and throw away or donate everything you no longer use or need.

If, let’s say, you’re living in a tiny apartment, chances are you have too much stuff and too little space, even after you’ve purged your non-essential possessions. One solution to this problem is renting a storage unit. Choose one as close to your apartment as possible, so you can grab stored items as needed without having to worry about long back-and-forth commutes. Smart use of a storage unit can decrease the amount of expensive living space you require, while adding room for your belongings.

GET CREATIVE WITH RUGS

Colorful rugs are the perfect antidote for boring, uninspired floors! Instead of a single big rug in the living room, consider using a variety of smaller area rugs. The same goes for hallways – several non-identical rugs aligned on the floor create a more spacious and dynamic look than a single rug that fits perfectly from wall to wall. As an added bonus, smaller rugs are also much easier to move in and out of your apartment. Who wants to drag around a huge, heavy rug that may not even fit inside the elevator? Small, playful rugs are both stylish and practical, making them ideal apartment décor.

REVAMP THE BATHROOM

Bathroom décor calls for a touch of decadence. Get bathroom accessories that will make you feel as if you’re spending time in a luxurious spa. A bathtub pillow for extra comfort and an over-the-bathtub caddy for a book and a glass of wine will enhance your bath-time experience.

Complete your sumptuous bathroom makeover with a large, fluffy bath mat and high-quality, soft towels. A water-resistant wireless speaker will help you relax and listen to your favorite music or podcast without worrying about your phone taking a dive.

Don’t settle for an average-looking apartment. A little bit of time, a few bucks, and some creativity are all the ingredients you need to transform your apartment into a stylish, comfortable home.

Originally published in the RENTCafé blog.

Finding that perfect apartment is cause for celebration, and one of the next steps to make it a renter’s new home is to sign the lease agreement. But before renters sign on the dotted line and enter into a rental agreement, there are some important things they need to know and understand about this legally binding contract.

What are the lease terms?

The Resident Manager will generally go over the terms of the lease prior to the renter signing it, but it is still a good idea for the renter to review the lease in detail. Before signing a lease, renters should make sure they ask questions and understand lease terms related to:

Duration of the Lease

Many leases are for one year but there are also short-term rentals of six months or even month-to-month. Renters should ensure that the agreed-upon duration of the lease is indicated in the leasing agreement. Once the lease is signed, the renter is locked into that time frame.

Fees

Fees are usually listed on the first page of the lease agreement. These fees can include, but are not limited to, an application fee or credit report fee, parking fees, and Notice to Assign fees.

Move-in and Move-out Clauses

The move-in date will be specified on the lease as well as the advance notice required for moving out at the end of the lease. The notice for moving out is typically 30 to 60 days. If appropriate notice is not given, the lease could automatically renew, or the tenant could lose their security deposit.

What are the policies on breaking the lease early?

Life is not predictable, and a new job or personal situation may require a renter to move before their lease is up. Many leases contain an early termination clause that outlines the process for breaking the lease and any fees associated with this situation.

There are more options for such situations: the tenant may be required to pay a penalty that’s roughly the equivalent of two or three months’ rent; they may forfeit their security deposit; or they might even be required to pay rent until the property manager finds a replacement tenant. Apartment properties have different policies on breaking the lease and renters should make sure they know what they are.

Is the security deposit refundable?

Before signing a lease, renters should also ask about any circumstances that would cause them to lose their security deposit. Damages exceeding normal wear and tear can result in losing some or all of a renter’s security deposit.

A tenant may also lose their security deposit for breaking the lease early. Some properties offer a “security fee” which is generally less than a security deposit. Properties offer the fee as an option for renters who prefer to pay less upfront with the trade-off being that the security fee—unlike a security deposit—is nonrefundable.

Are utilities included?

The cost of utilities and the payment procedures vary from one apartment complex to another. Ask about what—if any—utilities are included in the monthly rent before signing the lease. If water, electricity, heat, internet, cable, and/or trash pickup are not covered by the rent, find out the average cost of each utility bill in order to more accurately budget monthly spending on these costs.

When is rent due and how are rent payments made?

The process for paying rent differs among property management companies. Some companies accept payments online while others may require the tenant to drop off the payment at the office or mail the rental payment to a specific address. Renters should carefully read the lease to determine payment processes, accepted methods of payment, and the date the rent is due each month. Another important question to tackle is when a payment is considered late and whether there are any fees charged for late payments.

Is renters’ insurance required?

Some leases require tenants to have renters’ insurance. Required or not, renters’ insurance is a good idea, since it protects personal property such as furniture, clothing, and electronics from theft and damage.
Renters’ insurance is not a big-budget item for renters.

How are maintenance requests handled?

It is also important to ask if the building offers 24/7 maintenance and/or on-site maintenance staff, as well as how maintenance requests should be submitted. General repair requests may be handled differently than emergency repair requests. Before signing a lease, renters should make sure they clearly understand the processes for submitting emergency and non-emergency maintenance requests, and obtain the appropriate contact information for each situation.

What is the community’s guest policy?

Many apartment communities have guest policies. Some leases only allow guests to stay for a specific length of time and may require the tenant to notify the property manager about longer-term guests. Renters should discuss the guest policy with the property manager prior to signing the lease to make sure they understand the rules, so they don’t inadvertently violate the terms of their lease.

Asking these questions prior to signing a lease can result in a smoother apartment rental experience, and ensure there are no surprises on rental agreement terms, rules, policies, and requirements. At Globe Property Management you can depend on us to ensure your comfort, convenience, safety, and security.

Originally published on RENTCafé Blog.

As much as many of us would like to extend summer (or fall) for another couple of weeks, the cold weather will be upon us like a blanket (of snow) before we know it. Before the first winter storms hit, make sure your place is ready to handle all the wind, snow, and sleet they have to throw at it by following these basic apartment "winterization" tips.

Save Your Money

It may seem an impossible task, but you can reduce your energy consumption during the winter months. Keep heat inside your apartment by closing your blinds and curtains during the nighttime hours and on cloudy days. If you have hardwood floors, putting rugs down will actually help to prevent heat from escaping. Additionally, you'll want to keep your thermostat at the lowest comfortable setting. If you'll be out of your apartment for several days, do not turn your heating system off completely – this could result in frozen pipes that will burst, causing flooding and headaches for yourself and your fellow residents.

Get Cozy

One of the best parts about the winter months is that you can warm up under warm blankets on the couch while drinking hot chocolate. Consider investing in heavier bedding, such as flannel comforters or down duvets, that will allow you to keep your thermostat turned down during the cold nights. Keeping wool throw blankets on the back of your couch will not only add a cozy and festive touch to your decor, but will encourage you to cuddle up in it rather than turning up the heat.

Examine Your Windows

The windows in your apartment can be the biggest source of cold air leaking into your apartment, whether you have them open or not (and if you do have them open, only leave them open for a short period of time. Those frozen pipes again!). Put your hand near the opening to feel for drafts. If you have any concerns, speak with your Resident Manager about having your windows resealed or shrink-wrapped.


Another great way to help keep warm air from escaping your apartment is by hanging some curtains made from a heavier fabric or layering curtains, and making sure to close those curtains and blinds at night. During the day, blinds can be left open to help allow the sun to naturally warm your apartment.

Examine Your Windows

The windows in your apartment can be the biggest source of cold air leaking into your apartment, whether you have them open or not (and if you do have them open, only leave them open for a short period of time. Those frozen pipes again!). Put your hand near the opening to feel for drafts. If you have any concerns, speak with your Resident Manager about having your windows resealed or shrink-wrapped.


Another great way to help keep warm air from escaping your apartment is by hanging some curtains made from a heavier fabric or layering curtains, and making sure to close those curtains and blinds at night. During the day, blinds can be left open to help allow the sun to naturally warm your apartment.

Winter Storm Emergency Kit

While keeping a basic emergency preparedness kit on hand is always a good idea, if you live in an area prone to snowstorms, you may also want to keep a separate winter storm emergency kit in your apartment. Some items to include are a flashlight, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, a multi-purpose tool, sand, rock salt or non-clumping kitty litter to de-ice walkways, and warm clothing.

If You See Something, Say Something

Stay safe throughout your apartment building by letting your Resident Manager know if you see anything that could be hazardous to yourself and other tenants, such as a patch of black ice near the front door or large icicles near entryways. Spot a fellow resident struggling to get their groceries from their car to the front door in the snow? Lend a hand. Looking out for each other will help everyone get through the cold Canadian winter.

Get a jump start on these items now, and you’ll be ready to welcome winter and all that comes with it!

Originally published in RentHop blog.

It is true that having your own apartment can be incredibly liberating! But for many of us — especially those of us living in cities where the real estate market is essentially laughing at us — this is not an option. For the time being, a large majority of the “new renter” population will have to make do with roommates. Having a roommate is increasingly popular among millennials simply because this is the easiest way to cut your expenses and tighten your budget.

Living with roommates you don’t know is always less fun than sharing a space with your friends, but no one said you can’t have a good relationship with your neighbors and help each other to save some money.

Life with roommates can be a profitable venture, but in order to see that return, you should always be open to compromise. Be prepared to split the house responsibilities down the centre so your household can run more efficiently.

Use Wholesale Accounts

Costco is not just for big families anymore. Having a membership in a wholesale store is actually great when you live with roommates.

When you buy everything in bulk, you always get a decent discount and the pricing becomes more attractive. So the best option for you and your roommates will be completing a full list of the products and groceries you all need and buying everything in one store using your membership pricing.

Choose Who Manages the Budget

If you know for sure that you tend to waste your money on things you can avoid consuming or buying, you and your roommates can start your group budget.

This kind of business requires a high level of trust in each other; enough to allow someone to handle your money. However, having one budget for various household expenses, including groceries, can significantly boost the contents of your wallet, and allow you to organize your finances ahead of time. When you choose one person to handle all matters related to money, you ensure that every expense will be documented and reported. It means that you will be able to see where your money is going and how it’s being managed.

Some of you will say that it’s kind of a big burden for someone to watch a common budget and write down the expenses. In this case, it is recommended that you schedule and change the guy/girl in charge of money once per month, or once per quarter. As a bonus, you can have a small separate budget where you all chip in and use the money later for a common journey or a party, but that’s totally optional, and it all depends on how much money you want to save.

Cook at Home and Establish a Meal Plan

Since you’ve decided that you want to save money, you’ve got to understand that spontaneous visits to your favorite restaurant or café are not the best option for your new meal plan. Turning around the habit of eating out and cooking on your own will save you a lot of money. Living with roommates will definitely help, because now you can cook and share dinner together.

If you can fit it into your budget, there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself once in a while, but be weary of falling into a pattern.

Buy Snacks in Advance

There is nothing more painful for your budget than constantly spending money on expensive treats and snacks. We all know how this happens, and how easy it is to buy something tasty while watching a movie or working on a project.

When you decide that you need a snack and go out on a search to the closest store in your neighborhood, you can be sure that you’ll spend more than necessary. When it happens once, you won’t really feel it, but your debit card will.

Incorporating snacks for the whole week (including weekends) on your grocery shopping list will help you avoid those unexpected sweet tooth cravings.

Share One Netflix Account

Netflix is a great and cheap alternative to the cable TV. Yes, you won’t be able to watch the latest episode of Colbert live, but you’ll still be able to access a huge library of awesome movies, Netflix Originals and TV shows.

These days, having a Netflix account is a must. The coolest thing about it is that Netflix allows you to create profiles for each roommate, family member or friend.

You can chip in and pay for one account, create a few taste profiles, and everyone will enjoy great movies and shows for only a few dollars per month.

Exchange Furniture With Each Other 

Every roommate will have their own decoration ideas for their own rooms. Since most of the times we tend to move into the furnished place, your roommates may have chairs, tables or other furniture that won’t fit the room’s design. Need a chair? Talk to one of your roommates, chances are he/she has one that will fit nicely in your room. It’s a win-win situation: you’ll get the desired chair, and your roommate will get extra space in their room.

Share Furniture and Decor Expenses

Common areas, like the kitchen and living room are a different story. Since these are shared spaces, it is important to collaborate with and include every member of the household. This is where you decided collectively how money should be spent and who should purchase what. But make sure everyone has a vote here if you want to avoid bad feelings and possible confrontation.

The internal debate of living with roommates vs. living alone tends to be a never-ending one. But if you can find some pretty awesome strangers with the same (or similar) financial goals, you can take advantage of the opportunity to save money and get a head start on your future.

Originally published in Rentberry.

Waste reduction is one of the most important steps we can take as individuals to cause less harm to the environment. But living in a pre-packaged world can make the task seem daunting. The good news is there are plenty of ways to reduce how much waste we produce on a personal level. Here are seven simple and efficient ways to waste less, reuse more, and save some money in the process:

Plan your meals before you shop

Planning your meals comes with several advantages. Since you’ll only buy as much as you need to cook the pre-planned meals, you will be wasting a lot less packaging. Also, if you’re deliberate, you can purchase more fresh produce, avoiding the metal and plastic packaging preserved groceries come in. You’ll also waste less food, which not only means less food thrown in the trash, but also less greenhouse gas emissions from the farms and factories your groceries come from and you’ll waste less water. Plus, think of all the money you’ll save!

Use the “first-in, first-out” rule

When you get home with a fresh batch of groceries, place them at the back of the shelf and put the older ones at the front so you won’t forget to use them. Whether we’re talking fridge, pantry, or freezer, placing newly bought items at the back will keep the foods with closer expiration dates at the top of your mind and remind you they need to be used first.

Switch to plain food items

There’s nothing like a bowl of granola or yogurt with fruit and oats to kick off your day in a healthy way. But too often, to satisfy our breakfast cravings, we purchase flavored yogurt, ready-made granola, several types of oatmeal, and much more. Instead of getting several individually packaged and pre-mixed items, purchase the plain versions of as many foods as you can, get some fresh or freeze-dried fruits, some flavorings like honey and peanut butter, and mix your own at home. You’ll waste less packaging and food and end up with healthier and cheaper meals.

Get refillable containers & on-the-go cutlery

How many plastic or paper coffee cups do you use every week? How many small water bottles do you buy? How many times have you used single-use sandwich bags or cling film? Ditch everything that you get single uses from and purchase durable containers for your lunches or sandwiches. Furthermore, get reusable on-the-go coffee mugs for your hot drinks as well as for water bottles for your cold drinks. When it comes to cutlery, get metal or wooden spoons, forks, and knives for your workplace, and buy some reusable straws!

Take your own packaging to the store

Just like you can use durable containers to store your foods and drinks on the go, you can get plenty of reusable items to shop with. Instead of getting paper or plastic bags at the store, get a reusable plastic bag made of recycled plastic, woven polypropylene, or nylon. Cotton totes aren’t your best option since it’s more damaging to produce them than just to get plastic, but they’ll do in a pinch. You could also get a couple of containers to avoid the plastic bags in the fresh produce section or skip individually packaging them altogether – if they’re not going to make a mess in your bag, just put them in there as is and gently wash them later. Lastly, if you can, find stores where you can buy items like oatmeal, cereal, and so on from a dispenser and bring your own containers.

Take your own packaging to the store

Just like you can use durable containers to store your foods and drinks on the go, you can get plenty of reusable items to shop with. Instead of getting paper or plastic bags at the store, get a reusable plastic bag made of recycled plastic, woven polypropylene, or nylon. Cotton totes aren’t your best option since it’s more damaging to produce them than just to get plastic, but they’ll do in a pinch. You could also get a couple of containers to avoid the plastic bags in the fresh produce section or skip individually packaging them altogether – if they’re not going to make a mess in your bag, just put them in there as is and gently wash them later. Lastly, if you can, find stores where you can buy items like oatmeal, cereal, and so on from a dispenser and bring your own containers.

Originally published on RENTCafé Blog.

Roughly 20 million students will be heading to college this fall. For first-year students, thinking about the upcoming semester is exciting — and stressful. You’ll be moving on and living on your own. If you’re moving to an apartment, it means you’ll need to buy a variety of items that will help you to live comfortably.

Along with the main essentials like bedding, bathroom, and kitchen supplies, there are lots of little things you’ll want that you might not initially think of. Instead of stressing out about the little things, here’s a list of other college apartment essentials to help you get ready.

Reusable Plastic Containers

Bring on the meal plans!

Realistically speaking, although your main diet will probably consist of ramen noodles in a styrofoam cup or a quick bowl of cereal, having some type of plastic storage container saves a lot of money and eliminates wasting food. You’ll want to save any and all leftovers you have because food is expensive and re-heating a meal is way faster and easier than cooking a whole new one.

Power Bar with a Long Extension Cord

Most college apartments have few outlets in every room and some of them aren’t easily accessible. On top of that, if you’re sharing those outlets with a few roommates, it reduces the number available for your use. To avoid a fight to the death with your roommates for the last open outlet, get a power strip with many outlets. Make sure it has a cord that’s at least three or four feet long so that you can plug it behind any furniture while still having easy access.

Foldable Drying Rack

Despite our best efforts, accidents can (and usually will) happen! Whether you trip down stairs, or cut your finger in the kitchen, you’re going to want a first-aid kit in an easy-to-access spot on move-in day. Here are a few items to include:

Streaming Stick

Most college apartments with TVs in them don’t always have cable or even a DVD player. Instead, you’ll likely be stuck crowding around a laptop with your roommates to watch your favorite Netflix show. Make it easier for everyone with a streaming stick. It’s better than using a regular HDMI cord because nobody needs to give up their computer to plug into the TV and everyone can enjoy watching movies on a bigger screen.

Fabric Steamer

Washing clothes can be expensive at your college apartment and you don’t want to wash something if you don’t need to. If you’ve only worn a shirt for a couple of hours, it doesn’t necessarily need to be washed, but it might be a little wrinkled. Or if you’ve put off doing laundry for weeks on end and you run out of pants to wear (we’ve all been in this situation), you might start to panic.

A fabric steamer will come to the rescue in situations like this and save you time and money. Plus, it has other handy uses besides steaming clothes, so it’s an all-around winner.

Filtered Water Pitcher

Unless you’re really lucky, you’ll probably only have access to tap water in your apartment at college. It doesn’t taste great, but what can you do!?

Instead of drinking water that tastes funky, get a water pitcher with a filter. It will make your water taste 10 times better, and as a bonus, you can keep it in the fridge and always have cold water. Some water pitchers even have filters that add flavor so you can drink delicious water all the time. And remember, 6-8 a day keep the doctor away!

Step Stool

Step stools are necessary when you live on your own (especially if you are of the shorter variety)! The possibilities are endless: change light bulbs on your own, reach that bowl you only eat soup in, or stock your shoe collection on the top of your closet shelves (just me?). If your bed is on risers, you can store your step stool underneath. So instead of learning to do bionic jumps to get what you need, just use a step stool. No matter how tall or short you are, it will make your life so much easier.

Follow this list and there’ll be no need to sweat the small stuff. Getting ready to live on your own can seem intimidating, but if you’re prepared, you’ve got nothing to worry about!

Originally published in apartmentguide.com.

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