General Question

LoadingMedic's avatar

Budgeting for an apartment...

Asked by LoadingMedic (113points) May 10th, 2019

Hello everyone,

I am 25-year-old male planning on moving out July 23rd for an apartment that is a one bedroom and one bath. The square footage is about 1,050. I have never budgeted before and too be honest I am quite nervous because I do not know what to expect in expenses. I will write my budget down below and I tried to overbudget my groceries and utilities.

Auto Insurance: $70
Gas & Fuel: $200
Mobile Phone: $70
Utilities: $500 (Not sure what to expect)
Groceries: $500 (Realistically I will most like to spend between $300–380)
Rent: 1,000 (True Rent will be $925)
Total: $2,340

Now I am a firefighter and I work full-time 24-hour shifts 10 days a month. My main jobs salary is $35,441. According to the guys in 3–4 months the company will be getting a 3–4 grand pay raise. However, I am trying t budget as if that’s not true. Also in 6–8 months, I will graduate from paramedic school and then my annual salary will jump up to $41,000 I did a rough estimate of what my bi-weekly income would be after taxes from this job and it’s $1,166. When combined it comes out too $2,332. As you can probably already tell my budget is just under my take-home pay roughly. I will not know what exactly my take-home pay will be until I start on May 17th, 2019.

I do have a second job however that is a part-time ambulance job. I make $13.50 an hour. After I graduate paramedic school I will get paid $19.50. However currently right now I am maybe pulling in about $200–400 dollars biweekly which occurs to roughly $400–800 dollars extra a month. I also have a third job but currently, I am not sure where I stand with them so I am not going to include the extra income from them into this.

My car and phone are paid off. What you see in my budget is the only expenses I have to pay for each month.

I am honestly just looking for some opinions. Am I overestimating my utilities? I will not be home 10 days out of the month and when I am not working 24 hours I am usually working 8–12 hour shifts at my other job.

What is your honest opinion? Thank you and please be honest with me but not too harsh. Thank you in advance. I need to move out and really hoping I can make this work because this is the cheapest apartment I can find. All others are ranging from $1,002–1200.

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12 Answers

LadyMarissa's avatar

I don’t know about where you live; but, the firefighters where I live usually eat at the station while working. I think that you’ll be able to get by on a good bit less than the $500 you’ve budgeted for food.There’s no way for me to be able to judge your utilities as they are different in every city & it will depend on many different factors as to how that will turn out. All electric will cost more than an electric/gas combo. The number of electronics can affect the power bill also. I’m thinking that your utilities should be less but I could be wrong. With the money coming in from the 2nd job, I think you will be OK. Yes, it might be tight every so often; but you will adjust once you get moved in & settle into a normal routine. After establishing your own routine, you should be able to adjust your own habits to accommodate your monetary requirements. Many who can’t make it on their own tend to overspend in areas where they should have total control. You sound too responsible to fall into that trap!!!

Good luck & I hope you enjoy your new home!!!

janbb's avatar

I thik you’ll be fine. You will very likely be spending less than $500 fir utilities and you can be frugal on groceries but it really seems like you’ll be fine with that income and budget.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

You can’t afford those expenses without the second job or some additional side hustling. Good news is that you appear to have the time for it, so use that time to make things happen. Even now at 25 you must save for retirement, I’d look for cheaper rent or possibly a room mate until your overall income increases. There are a lot of unaccounted for costs as well, you need to budget entertainment, healthcare, retirement, emergency account, vehicle maintenance…etc. When I was 25 I lived on 30k a year but my rent was $325, I was debt free and it was still hard. That was almost 20 years ago. In 2019 firefighters really need/deserve to be making more, especially since they put their lives on the line regularly. I greatly respect your service to the community! My advice would be to live frugally and find a significant other who has gainful employment as well, then the numbers start to look better…and you spend your evenings in good company rather than staring at the TV or wall.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Ask the Real Estate representative that can tell you what expenses in that neighborhood would be ..especially electricity averages etc Or ask the future neighbors ahead of time.
Maybe the realtor might be able to help you find cheaper or better rent?
They usually have the mean averages of living in each area.
Also check the grocery stores there as well to get an idea of costs?

johnpowell's avatar

500 for utilities seems awfully high. In my old two bedroom apartment water and garbage were included in rent and we only had to pay electricity. And Electricity was only 100 a month.

I would check your lease to see what utilities are included and what you have to cover. Here is my old lease.

You can contact the utility companies and they should tell you what the average bill was at the address you are moving into was.

LoadingMedic's avatar


Hello LadyMarissa,

First I would like to start off by saying thank you for taking the time out fo your day to respond to my post. To answer one of your statements; I live in the state of Georgia located in the United States. Firefighters here as well eat at the station but usually, we have to put in about $5–10 a shift to be able to eat. Honestly, I usually just bring in my own food but that is not saying I do not eat with the crew because I do agree with you regarding the food budget. I only budgeted $500 because I wanted to over budget just in case if that makes sense. Ideal I do not believe I will ever even go over $400. Honestly, when it comes to electronics it will not be much. All I will have is my laptop which I bring to work the majority of the time and my computer which will, of course, stay at the apartment but when I leave for work I will have my desktop all unplugged so it does not run any unwanted power while I am gone. I do not plan on getting cable since I can watch the majority of what I need on my laptop for free. So ideal I would only need to budget more for the internet if my apartment does not already come with it. I was using the website SmartAsset to find an estimate on utilities and according to the website for Georgia, they were saying that Utilities usually range from $140–200. I really hope that is true but again I will never know until I get there. I do not plan to overspend anywhere to honest with you. I like to consider myself a pretty boring person. All I do is go to the gym and when I am not at the gym I am either working or at home just watching a sports game or studying. I do not drink or do any drugs so as you can probably tell I do not waste my time at bars. Thank you again for your kind words and I hope everything works out as well. I am too old to still be living at home.


Hello janbb,

Thank you for responding to my post! I also believe I will spend much less on utilities but I only budgeted it that high because I wanted to over-budget rather than under budget if that makes sense. I do not know what to expect and that’s why I budgeted it like that. Thank you again.


Hello ARE you kidding me,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my post. While I agree with you that I will not be able to afford without my second job, that is why I have a second job and possibly a third job. I am by no means trying to sound rude when I say this but did you read my whole post because I am not sure you saw the area of me talking about my second job. I agree that I must save for retirement and I plan to do so but to be completely honest with you I was not planning on it until next year. Hear me out. I am currently living in Georgia and I do not want to live here my entire life. I found this great company in Texas that pays paramedics $60,500 starting off but the kicker is they have a pension plan and they contribute 200% of what you put into it. After attaining my paramedic in 7–8 months I was planning on getting that job and once I landed that job I would have much better income and then I was going to start contributing to there retirement. I would love to look for cheaper rent but there are no options regarding that. Literally what I have found is the cheapest rent and this is looking all across the boards within a 150-mile radius. The absolute cheapest apartments I found where $750–850 but there were located in the ghetto and had mold on the ceilings and in the vents. To me, that is not worth it at all just to save maybe an extra hundred. I am not sure what entertainment you are talking about and for healthcare, my full-time job covers that. I pay nothing out of pocket for health insurance. My emergency account has 2,000 in it and I still plan on increasing it to at least 4,000. I wish I could find rent for $325 but nowadays that is pretty unrealistic. Heck I even went onto craigslist and looking for rooms to rent and the closest thing I could find was $650 with utilities included but I am not sure how comfortable I am with doing such a thing. I had my own room and bathroom but everything else was shared and I don’t know but it makes me feel weird inside. I would possibly look into a roommate but I get really nervous with that because if my roommate misses a payment then I would get really nervous about my credit score.

I am not sure why after being debt free you were still struggling. Your rent was pretty low. Not trying to sound rude. I agree that firefighters need to be paid more but that’s not my call sadly and I have to work with what society is giving me. Once I get my paramedic I plan to bridge to my nursing after getting on with the company in Texas and then eventually attain my NP. Thank you for the kind words and I am proud to serve any community. It’s an honor.


Hello Inspired_2write,

Thank you for responding to my post. I would ask my real estate agent but I am nervous that I will need to pay out of pocket for the services and I really do not want to spend money where I might not need to if that makes sense. I could always ask the neighbors but knocking on random peoples doors is not always plausible. I doubt the realtor could but it may be worth trying. I have looked countless of hours.


Hello Johnpowell,

Yes, I agree with you that the utilities seem high and I did that on purpose. I over-budgeted my utilities on purpose because I never did this before and I have no idea what to expect for it. I am hoping my utilities are no more than $200 a month, to be honest with you. The utilities will not be included. There are actually no apartments here in Georgia that have utilities included. It’s kinda annoying, to be honest with you. Thank you for your advice!

LadyMarissa's avatar

@LoadingMedic I live in North Georgia in a house & my utilities run $150–200/mon. I’m a elec/gas combo. I have about 2 months out of the year where my bill is about $150. This is during the most mild months. During the coldest or hotest part of the year, I hit around $200. The rest of the year hovers between the $150 & the $200. My utility company will allow me to set up an average payment after the first 12 months where you pay the average of your previous year for 11 months & pay the difference on the 12th month. I prefer the pay as I go method because the 12th month would come due around Christmas which is when I typically blow my budget anyway. You might want to check the company you’ll be using for your utilities to see if you can do the same by this time next year!!!

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@LoadingMedic I read the part where you have a second job. If you keep that you should be ok. I don’t know where you live but wherever you decide to settle be it Georgia or Texas look at what housing will cost you. 60K+ a year will work fine in most parts of Georgia but not in areas like Boston, NY, California and likely some parts of Texas. Sounds like you have good benefits, if your next job does not factor that in a 20% raise can be wiped out if you have to pay for healthcare. As far as pensions are concerned take them if you can get them but any 401k option given to you take advantage of it. Pensions in 2019 are rare and not likely to be around too long. Personally if I knew I was going for the paramedic job I’d still be investing. Part of the reason I struggled on 30K was I was putting ~20% into investing. I also had an account where I put the equivalent of a car payment to cover the cost of an eventual need for a new to me vehicle. I don’t regret any of those things 20 years later, I’m actually extremely thankful I did. Don’t think of it as optional, it’s a necessity.

JLeslie's avatar

Can you save save save before you move in in July? I think if you have a cushion of a few thousand in the bank when you move into the apartment you should be fine. If you don’t have the cushion it is a little tight, because you want to be able to get through an unexpected bump in the road. You also want to be able to start saving once you get through the expenses of the initial move in.

Gas for your car might go up, although your budget for utilities is probably too high. You don’t account for restaurants, travel, or entertainment. Is your car covered with a warranty or service plan? Does your healthcare have a copay or deductible you would have to pay if you get sick?

Once you go into debt the downward slide is fast. I’ve always liked a cushion so I don’t have to worry about borrowing on credit cards that charge crazy interest rates. I use credit cards to get money back and free things, but I always pay the bill in full.

I think you can call the utility company and ask the average utility expense for that unit or neighborhood.

Another option is live with a roommate for a year and save. Half the rent and utilities is a lot less, even if the total rent is more because it’s a two bedroom.

LoadingMedic's avatar


Hello again LadyMarissa,

Well hello lol, nice to know someone else in this thread is from the same state as me. May I ask how your utilities are so low for a house? My parents pay a lot in utilities for there house but granted my parents have owned decently big houses and my parents also have three kids to account for. I am the same way to be honest with you. I like to pay everything month to month and as soon as possible. I will have to try and get in contact with one of the utility companies at the apartment and hopefully they can help me out.


Hello Are_you-kidding_me

Yes I do not plan on getting rid of it and I actually plan of finding a third job if my third job currently does not work with me. I live in Newnan, Georgia. Housing in Texas is pretty similar to Georgia from what I was researching to be honest with you. The apartments as well are very similar in price. I was born and raised in New York and do not plan on ever going back there to live. It is way to expensive. I miss New York but do not miss it enough to live there. I have pretty good benefits. When it comes to paying out of pocket for healthcare, I do not have too. Healthcare is free at my current job. Yes I agree that pensions are hard to come by and thats why I really want to work for this company in Texas. They have a great pension plan, good pay and they really care about there employees. I have been in constant communication with the company and I hoping I can get on with the company my first go around. Well I am currently driving a 2010 Ford Focus with 100,000 mileage on it. Its completely paid off and I do not see any reason to buy a new car anytime soon. The car is in good condition and I have not had any mechanical issues. I do routine maintenance on it and keep it in good condition. I understand your concerns on retirement and I am the same way but as of right now I would only possibly be able to contribute $100 dollars a month to retirement but I would not know until I get into the apartment. Also I plan on going back to school to bridge from my paramedic to my RN and then attain my masters in NP. This will end up putting my retirement on hold but the good thing is I will not be in debt for this and if I am I might be 10–20k in debt that will not take long to pay off. I can work while attaining all this.


Hello JLesile

Thank you for your advice. Yes I can save before July and thats what I am currently doing. I have roughly 7,500–8,000 currently in the bank right now. No debt and nothing that needs to be paid off. I will probably have close to 9,000–10,000 by the time I move into the apartment Just 23rd. Gas may go up but I have been living in Georgia for seven years now and the highest I have ever seen gas was $2.84 and right now its ranging between $2.69–2.79. I also have been consistently writing down how much I pay for gas each month and out of 4 days each month I usually spend between $24–31 in gas which adds up to about $160 if I spend money on gas five times a month and its $31 every time. I do not eat out ever to be honest with you. I go to the grocery store once a week either on a Saturday or Sunday and I spend roughly $50–70 on groceries that last me a week. I go home and meal prep all my food and put it into containers. I do this 4 times a month which ranges between $280–350 each month. My healthcare does not have a copay or deductible that I have to worry about.

I agree that going into debt is the worse thing for anyone and it goes downhill from there which is why I made sure I had no debt prior to all this. I love a cushion too and I could not have agreed more with you here which is why I focused on budgeting on my full-time job and then my second and third job is all extra income.

I plan on calling the utility company to get more information regarding to how much it may cost. A lot of people have suggested a roommate but to be honest with you I have a hard time trusting people. My credit score is currently 782 and if I had a roommate that failed to pay rent then that would fall on me and that could screw up my credit that I worked really hard to attain and achieve.

JLeslie's avatar

It all sounds good to me. My husband and I when we were starting out set a goal of $10k in savings when we bought our first house as our cushion, so your situation sounds very familiar. When I rented just out of school I only had $1k, but I had a roommate so I could afford everything, and save a little.

Very exciting! Wishing you the best. It sounds like you thought of “everything.” I put that in quotes because there is always more spending than one anticipates, but you padded everything so you should be fine.

LadyMarissa's avatar

@LoadingMedic I have managed to keep my utilities low by not over heating or cooling. I keep my thermostat about 2 degrees below or above the perfect comfort temp. In the winter, I keep my stat around 70–72. IF I get chilly, I put on a sweater or some socks. In the summer, my stat stays around 78–80 & I wear light clothing. My parents utility bill ran around 300–350/mon but one of them stayed hot or old all the time & they adjusted their thermostat accordingly. Since you’re away from home a good portion of the month, you won’t need to keep your thermostat cranked up or down until you get home from work; so, I’m assuming your utilities will be closer to mine than my parents.

In the winter, I make a reusable portable heater from a sock & some dried blackeyed peas. I fill the sock partially full of the peas, tie the open end, place it in my microwave for about 10 min & I then place it in the small of my back when I’m sitting on the sofa. That little bit of heat radiates throughout my body & I don’t even notice that the furnace isn’t as high as I’d prefer. I’ve been living here 21 years at the end of this month & I no longer even notice that the thermostat is lower than I’d prefer. Also, my heating system is gas which helps!!!

During the beginning of spring, I keep my a/c at 80 & I stay fairly comfortable. When it starts to get hotter, I keep the stat at 78. That’s enough to keep the humidity down & I’m not uncomfortable at 78. It might be worth buying yourself a programmable thermostat that you can program to come on about 15 min before you think you’ll get home. If your home is warm or cool when you walk in the door, you’re less likely to crank the stat up or down to the levels that negatively affects your bill.

Another suggestion, since you’ve over budgeted on your food & utilities, you might consider putting the difference into a savings account. So, IF your utilities are $250, put the $250 balance into savings so you’re not as tempted to spend it. Same with the groceries. Say you spend $300, put the $200 difference into savings. Once you get used to doing that, you’ll be surprised how quickly your savings will grow!!!

It boils down to the fact that you are responsible for you; so, be an adult & take care of you!!! In other words, pay YOU first!!!

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