How to save money while renting, but still have nice things.

We’re a bunch of brunch-loving renters, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to save money for a home someday – or maybe just an overseas trip.

Still, it can feel like you’re needlessly blowing cash on things you don’t need – or on the flipside, being so stingy to save that you’re sacrificing, well, fun.

But there is a balance to be struck, and way to save and live a life you actually enjoy. Adele Martin, an expert in saving money, tells Mamamia there are plenty of painless ways to save – and earn a little extra – cash.

First things first, try to boost your income.

Adele’s business as a Money Mentor sees her helping people to get their finances in order. And while she has plenty of saving advice, her first tip to clients is usually to find ways they can boost their income. Because more money = more money.

“I think as women we just don’t ask for that pay rise. One of the things I suggest… go to your boss, make sure they’re aware of everything you’ve been doing for them. And if they say no, make sure you have a time and date that it’s going to be reviewed.”

Asking for a pay rise may not be on the cards, and even if it is, there are still more ways you can easily increase your cash flow, says Adele.

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“I have a Facebook group called the ‘Savings Squad’ and inside there’s a lot of people creating side-hustles. Some people have earring businesses, candle businesses, (or sell) salt scrubs. And that’s been able to generate anything from $5000-$10,000 a year.”


“Another one for renters to ask is, ‘Can I get extra income while by Airbnb-ing the spare room either permanently or while I go on holidays?'”

Of course, to do so you’ll have to ask permission from your landlord.

Pool with your housemates – or family members.

The advantage of a sharehouse is that you can also share the costs of certain things to make your money go further, says Adele.

“If you’ve got housemates, maybe you can pool your money and buy in bulk to save money, shopping at places like Costco or a wholesale butchers where you can buy meat in bulk.”

And if you’re renting by yourself or with a partner, you could always look to your friends or family to go in with.

Offer to spruce up the place for a discount.

“If you’re a little bit handy, and want to do some painting to the property, sometimes your landlord will reduce your rent,” Adele says.

“Painting or maybe doing the lawn mowing or putting a fence up.”

Adele says this trick has worked for many people she knows and recommends approaching the landlord or real estate agent and making the offer to see what rental discount they come up with.

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Video by Mamamia

Opt for nights in over nights out.

We’re not talking lounging on the couch watching Netflix instead of going out for a nice meal with friends (although that does sound like a nice idea.) Actually, Adele suggests making your nights in just as special as your nights out.

“Still have them fancy. Still dress up in cocktail dresses. Still have it as fancy as when you went out, it’s just so much cheaper for everyone.”

“I’ve seen people have really nice table decorations and lighting so it still looks really nice, but it’s half the cost of going out.

“And if you have it at your house you don’t have to pay for your Uber home.”

Keep this affordable by asking friends to each bring a dish or the ingredients for a cocktail (or both) along to share.

Study Pinterest, then shop at Kmart.

If you’re going to be doing a lot of staying in, you want your home to be a place you actually want to spend time in. Adele says jazzing up a rental doesn’t mean you need to splurge.

“That’s why I love places like Kmart. I get all my decorating ideas from Pinterest, then I go to Kmart and see how I can do it cheaply.”

Create a stunning room entirely from Kmart items. Image: Supplied.

And if your budget for updating your rental home is zero dollars, Adele says the best thing you can do is have big clean out.

"I love minimalism. Having less stuff actually makes us happier and so if there's clutter, just chuck it out. You could even sell some of the stuff and make money from it"

Sell before you buy more

Just like an at-capacity nightclub, insist your wardrobe has a one-in, one-out policy, Adele recommends.

"If you've got a pretty good wardrobe and you wanting some new stuff, make sure you sell some items first. Sell two dresses first before you go and buy that new one," Adele says.

"Chances are you've got at least one thing in your wardrobe you're not wearing."

Put a ban on spending.

If you really want to get your spending under control, Adele recommends putting in place a 30-day ban on shopping. She's not suggesting you cut out buying everything that month, just the things you're noticing a weakness for.


"We might have emotional spending that can really sabotage our saving. One day we might have a bad day at work, we buy clothes to make us feel better. So to try to break that addiction, have a challenge where you don't buy anything."

"I do it with clothes, but you could do it with whatever your weakness is."

And once you've nailed the 30-day ban, try extending it to six or even 12 months.

Buy second-hand.

When you do need to buy those bigger items like furniture or appliances, always look to for second-hand options before hitting the shops, Adele says.

"You can get something really good second-hand items in Buy, Swap, Sell Facebook groups or on Gumtree."

"I also think it's better for the environment as well."

Get energy efficient.

Electricity bills can be a huge cost in summer, so Adele suggests investing in a portable air conditioning unit that's super efficient to run.

"A Close Comfort unit is portable and just needs a power outlet and costs just 50 cents a night to run," she says.

"It's great if your home doesn't have air con and you don't want to move somewhere more expensive just for air conditioning."

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Negotiate your bills.

Adele says just ringing your health/car/contents insurance company or your internet/electricity/gas supplier and asking, "Is this the best deal I can get?" could save you hundreds of dollars.

"Give yourself a challenge and a deadline. Say for the next month, you're going to call one a week," she says.

Adele says once on the phone you can tell the person on the other end you'd like to find out if this is the best deal you can get, potentially bluffing that you've seen a cheaper deal elsewhere.

"Now they might say this is the best deal, but I ask, 'Is there something else you can do for me?' and there has always, always been something."

Ask to work from home one day a week.

While you're in the mood to negotiate, start a conversation with your boss about working from home one or two days a week, says Adele. This will save on travel costs like fuel, public transport and road tolls.

Figure out if you really need that subscription.

Most of us have two or more subscriptions to our name and chances are there is at least one we're not getting use out of. Adele recommends really looking at whether you really need Netflix, Foxtel, Stan, Spotify and your gym membership, or whether there's some you could do without.

"Maybe instead of Foxtel, I could have Netflix. Maybe instead of a gym membership, I can watch YouTube videos."

Adele Martin is a money mentor who helps women in their 20s, 30s and 40s. You can join her Facebook group Savings Squad through her website