How Much Should You Spend On Rent?

You again find yourself waiting on that next paycheck, you got bills coming up quick. This one’s gotta go to rent and utilities and your car. You’ll have to make those payments towards debt next time, and you sure as hell can’t put that money in savings.

Living in luxury doesn’t have to mean making millions or working overtime all the time. In fact, there’s a very simple way to figure out how to never want for anything, how to be debt free, how to and how to start putting away money. The secret is how much of your money you’re funneling into rent.

Just think about it. If you work full time, that means you’re spending all day, five days a week at work. Let’s say that you do this mainly to pay the bills, but your biggest bill is where you live. Is it sinking in? Let me try phrasing this another way- you spend 5% of your time driving, and 70% of your time working somewhere to afford a place you only spend 25% of your time, 12% of which you’re asleep.

This isn’t something I came up with by myself. It’s the result of advice from smart people, and from a simple equation. The answer to how much you should spend on rent is actually really simple: you shouldn’t spend more than about 25% of you income on your place.

That leaves 75% of your income for other bills and taxes, for repaying debts, for your car expenses, to put in savings, to spend on things or experiences, or even to work less hours. It’s an equation geared to how people actually spend their waking hours, and one that prioritizes abundance.

There’s a dangerous cycle we are prone to getting trapped in, and it’s the same as the paycheck to paycheck life. Each moth, you’re putting nothing of your pay in savings, half or even more to rent, and the rest to bills and other living expenses. In that situation, there is no growth, and you are held hostage as a human bill payer. In that lifestyle, you are in always in survival mode, which is the opposite of an abundant lifestyle.

If you want to follow the equation of abundance, you have two options:

Option one is to increase your income.

This is perfectly doable, and there are tons of side hustles you can start doing to earn extra each month. You could work more hours, ask for a promotion, or just start looking for a better paying job. The downside to this option, of course, is potentially spending more of your time at work.

Option two is to reduce living expenses.

There are lots of ways, big and small to do this. For example, think about how much you spend on entertainment. I mean really look, because it’s always more than you think. It includes how much you spend on fancy coffee and snacks everyday, how often you go out to eat, what you pay for cable television, your magazine and book budget, and whatever you spend on things you don’t really need.

The next step up is to reduce your living expenses with location. It’s no secret that some areas are more expensive than others. Like how living in the neighborhood downtown is more costly than the neighborhood just a few more miles away. Hell, even some entire states are more expensive than others. Arkansas is certainly a different economic climate than Hawaii. It all depends what your priorities are, and if you can find the same things for less elsewhere.

Maybe though, you don’t want to live in the middle of nowhere. You like the big city, your state, or the ritzy town where your friends and family are. For this situation, the best thing to consider is downsizing. Not just small everyday things like in the first example, but on bigger life expenses. An example of this is your car. A brand new car, as everyone knows, depreciates in value as soon as you drive it off the lot. Especially if it’s just a personal commuter rather than a commercial investment. Same with electronics like cell phones, which can now cost upwards of a thousand dollars before your cellular plan. Buying used or refurbished whenever possible can save you thousands on major purchases.

Another way to downsize, and the route I advocate for, is literally the size of your house. How much space do you really need? Do you actually use your big backyard? What could you save if you lived somewhere with just one bedroom fewer, or if you went all out minimalist. Consider rent that’s just $400 a month.

Waiting to win the lottery is no strategy to start living more abundantly. What opportunities would open to you if your rent was reduced to a quarter of your income?

Stowing Papers

Ironically, organization becomes a bigger deal when you live in a small space, even though you have less things to organize.

It was a great paper pileup, a wad of receipts, and essential documents mixing it up at the bottom of my backpack. They had to go somewhere, but they couldn’t stay or else I would have nowhere to sit. Living on a boat means knowing where to put things, and knowing what to go on living without. Like a game, to keep or not to keep.

Automatically, when going through a paper pileup I ask myself “do I need this?” Because there are definitely papers I need, like my birth certificate, or car paperwork, even receipts for things I need to return. The important documents go in a sealed waterproof folder, and the less essential ones go in my backpack. Those ones are easy.

A little more challenging is things like cards, not very important certificates, business cards and other non essential paper trail documents. For those, I usually end up throwing it in a pile for a few days (weeks) and forgetting about it until I’m trying to find something. Those ones kill, because I’ll just move the pile around, procrastinating sorting through it because I don’t even want to think about what might be lurking in those papers. Like a letter from the DMV reminding me to pay another fee for tags or taxes or for existing. Or worse… the library sending a late notice for that book I can’t find!

That’s the worst, losing things. It’s not like I have many places to misplace things, or even many things for that matter. It drives me crazy, knowing what I’m looking for is probably just feet away, hiding right under my nose. At that point i just have to start displacing everything I own, looking in every backpack, every drawer and making my place look like a tornado just rolled through. After several hours (minutes) of looking I’ll just give up, because obviously the house elves are just playing a trick on me, and I’m not going to find my toothpaste until it wants to be found.

The hardest things for me to get rid of and to not buy or be gifted are books. I was such a bookworm growing up, and had quite a collection by the time I moved away. Even when I finish a book and don’t plan on re-reading it, I want to keep it around, like some kind . I like the look of books all lined up on a shelf, by size or color or preference. They have such ambiance, just taking up space. The problem is that I have no shelves. Well- actually I have shelves just not book shelves. My shelves are for clothes and non perishables, dinner ware and a few spices, tools and ties and life vests. Books are lovely, but to be certain, they take up too much room. The number of physical copies I can have at a time is probably three or four, two of which are manuals

This makes the case for ebooks pretty strong. Instead of shuffling books around, making trips to the library, or spending money on copies I can’t keep, I can have what I’m reading right on my tablet or in my pocket. Actually, I can have hundreds of books saved that I can read again and again. I know the argument, you’re going to say “but I like holding a real book. I hate reading off of a screen!” But if you’re reading from your phone screen you’re doing it wrong! I hate reading off my phone. It’s too small, the glare is terrible and my arm gets tired holding it up so I don’t have to be looking down.

Want to know the secret to ebooks? It’s tablets. I love my iPad because it’s lasted a number of years now without any problems, the display is great and the battery lasts forever. I do wish that I got it used like my phone, instead of paying hundreds more for something new. Besides, as far as pricing goes, if you want a new device you’re better off going with a far cheaper Kindle or Samsung Tab. But all in all, it’s actually been a great investment, mainly because it cut out paying for books all together! Seriously, if you haven’t been to your library recently you probably didn’t know that nowadays most public libraries have an entire free ebook collection. All you need to do is go to their website then follow the links to their e library and login with your library card.

If you have a Kindle, it’s really easy. Just download the book you want and it shows up in your reader. Even if you don’t have a kindle, you can get free books from your library if you just download the (also free) Overdrive app or the Amazon Kindle app on the tablet you already have. I like these reader apps and have used them forever over the ibooks app because you can change the display, the text size, the fonts and you can even use them to download and listen to free audio books.

Going digital is a big part of preserving space for me. Any paperwork I’m not sure about, I just take photos of with the CamScanner app on my phone. It turns photos of documents and automatically adjusts the brightness and contrast so you can actually read it, plus it flattens papers so that your photo now looks like an actual scanned photocopy. It makes it easy to just name it and file in away in the cloud so it doesn’t take up space anymore. Tablets are great to for streaming movies and shows, so I don’t need a big DVD collection, bulky cable boxes or expensive channel packages. They’re pretty under-rated and the perfect solution for saving both space and money.

If you’re interested in trying out a tablet, here are some good deals on few different devices I’ve picked for you to check out!

55 Little Reasons to Become a Minimalist

There are tons of benefits to living minimally, here are just a few reasons to get you started


1. For a sigh of relief

Stress starts to melt away when you have less to worry about, when you leave what worries you behind you never take that deep breath of relief for granted again.

2. To get your priorities straightened out

If affording your rent tops your list of priorities you’re doing it wrong.

3. For room to think

Less means more brain capacity freed up for more important things.

4. Time to relax

If you can’t remember the last time you slept in, or the last time you had nothing to do you might be exerting to much energy into cleaning and maintenance. The only thing we really have to spend is our time.

5. To have energy for the big ideas!

With all that extra time and relaxation, suddenly you have the motivation to go for what you’re passionate about.

6. Space to forget

Forget about your unhappiness, your life “fillers” and your regrets. Those things don’t move you forward and only serve to keep you hung up on the unimportant details.

7. To save your hard earned money

What is it that you wish you could save for instead of spending it on your water bill? See my article on how much it costs me to live on a boat.

8. Working less

Don’t really have many things you need all those hours for except to pay the bills? Maybe you really want the time to have fun instead? Reducing your living expenses may just be exactly the thing for you!

9. To break out of your shell

When you don’t spend half your time at work and the other half at home, suddenly, you have to meet more people and do more things than just sit alone at home on the couch.

10. Appreciation of the outdoors

If you live in a 30′ by 6′ rectangle, you probably don’t want to hang out there all the time unless you want to have cabin fever! This is where your relationship with nature begins.

11. So people quit buying you stuff

Do you enjoy spending time with friends and family but hate birthdays and holidays like Christmas and Valentines day? That might be because you don’t have the materialistic bug, which is great for a minimalist lifestyle. Now you have the perfect excuse to tell people not to get you anything; you literally don’t have the room for it!

12 . For more time to play

Quit flaking on your friends and partners, have the time to go out and have fun instead of working extra hours to make rent or spending your entire Saturday organizing and cleaning.

13. Getting comfortable with yourself

When you stop filling your life and your space with endless distractions, you’re forced to spend more time with yourself, and more time on yourself.

14. Making more friends

Not enough happens to you when you’re stuck at home. You miss out on meeting all kinds of people, and miss out on connections you won’t make otherwise.

15. Less time spent with your TV

Cable, Netflix and movie binging is a great way to check out of life. How many hours per day do you spend in front of a screen? What about in a month or a year? What could you spend that time on instead?

16. For your health

Some of the major causes of death in our country, like heart attacks, cancer, stroke and diabetes type 2 are heavily impacted by a sedentary lifestyle. Want to live longer and healthier? Minimalism helps contribute to an active way of life.

17. To find yourself

18. To really see whats around you

Open your eyes, look around yourself and be a part of it all

19. Inspiring your sense of adventure

Putting yourself in a different environment makes you an explorer of the unknown, who knows maybe you’ll get a taste for it!

20. Confidence

Feel empowered about your decision making, your capability and your potential to do anything you put your mind to

21. For your family

Be more present and have more time and energy for your family instead of putting it towards stress and worry.

22. To try something new

23. Live without fear

Fear of what’s next or the what if’s are what hold you back from taking the leap for your dreams. When you have less physically you literally have less to lose.

24. Breaking away from the norm

25. To find your happiness

26. Putting yourself to the test

You’re stronger than you know, and it just takes a leap of faith to find out just how amazing and capable you really are.

27. To understand freedom

You are not restricted by the confines of the social norm, nor are you bound by the expectations of others, by the cost to live or the things you think you need.

28. Satisfy your curiosity

Nothing is permanent, if you’ve always wondered what it might be like to live with less why not give it a try? You can always go back to the way things were, if you never try anything new you’ll never learn, and things will stay the same.

29. Kill your materialistic and superficial habits

Find yourself hating all the unnecessary junk you buy and collect? Or feel that your status is intrinsically correlated to the things you own or don’t own? Minimalism is a great way to change those feelings and that way of thinking.

30. Be more than a human bill payer

Ever feel like your purpose in life is to pay bills or be a paycheck for someone else? The reason is having a high cost of living, and the only way to stop feeling that way is to live below your means in a way that is still abundant in the ways you care about.

31. Rediscover wild abandon

32. For getting over your writers block

33. To inspire others

I admit, it’s always a bit of an ego boost to tell people that I live on a boat and see their eyes bug out as they start asking me questions like “do you cook there?” and “how do you go to the bathroom?” Just by being different and a more unique version of yourself, you inspire and open up new worlds to those around you.

34. Become the person you always knew your were

Never feel like the life that you’re living isn’t really you. Sometimes when we just go along with what we think we’re supposed to do, we lose sight of what we really want to do.

35. To see clearly what you love

In a life devoid of things, you learn what it is you truly hold close to your heart

36. Gaining new wisdom

37. For finishing off your bucket list

Or to make one if you’ve never sat down to write out your dreams and aspirations!

38. To become closer to those you love

39. Living a life of luxury

Luxury doesn’t necessarily mean million dollar properties, a ten car garage full of hotrods or vacations that cost thousands. Luxury can be things you already have, and is as simple as living a life feeling that you have enough.

40. To travel!

Who would’ve thought? That having less makes it easier to leave everything behind to see and experience what you’ve always wanted.

41. Time to pick up that book you’ve been wanting to read

42. So you keep learning

Feeling stunted? Or like you lose a few braincells every time you have to go through your junk drawer to find a pair of scissors? (You just know you’ve bought like five pairs!) Might be a sign you’re ready for a change,

43. Discover skills you never knew you had

Ever try something brand new, like ceramics, scuba diving or gardening and feel that you were born to do it? When you get stuck in a sleep, eat, work cycle you don’t get to find those parts of yourself.

44. To feel more genuine

45. Letting go of what holds you back

Minimalism is realizing the joy within yourself, rather than seeing it in the things and circumstances around us. You can start practicing this mindset without lifting a finger, by internally letting go of what takes joy away from you, and by finding things within yourself that make you happy.

46. To smile and laugh like you used to

47. Getting over yourself

We are just a tiny spec, on a little ball floating in a big universe. The things that you think are important, are really just a fleeting moment that time will undoubtedly forget. It’s easy to let life pass by, day after day concerned with distractions. That’s what makes living in the moment, and doing the things that bring you joy precious.

48. For sobriety

This one isn’t as obvious as some others, but for those of us that struggle to stay clean, having lots of distractions and ways to numb ourselves to life is what makes it easy to never face the real problems. Consciously choosing to be awake and open to living a life with less of what hurts us is a major game changer.

49. Ditch wasteful habits

50. Stop feeling envious

Comparison is the thief of joy and mother of bitter envy. When you live a life of luxury within your means you stop comparing yourself to everyone around you.

51. A chance to start fresh

Nothing is worse than feeling trapped in your current circumstance. Sometimes what you really need is a chance to start again doing things a little differently.

52. To leave the rate race behind

53. To have control over your life

You are the master of your own universe. No landlord, university or boss should take that truth away from you. You have exactly as much control over your life as you take

54. Because you can

You’re doing something right the moment people start telling you that you can’t. Grit and passion will always accomplish more than passive compliance.

55. Because you want to

The biggest reason to do anything? Because deep down it’s something you really want for yourself. Remember you can always change your mind.