Many people choose New Year's as a time to make a resolution aimed at improving themselves or their situation. Even with the best intentions, popular New Year's resolutions such as quitting smoking and losing weight often prove hard to keep.
This year, consider an "apartment living resolution" to help improve the financial, legal, personal, or aesthetic aspect of your life as an apartment dweller.
Here are seven resolutions that aren't too difficult to follow that you can start in January or any time of year:
Resolution #1: Create a Household Budget
Who's it for: Creating a household budget is a good idea whether you're a single-person household or a large family, but it's something you should be sure to consider if any of the following statements rings true for you:
- I'm having trouble meeting all my expenses.
- I never manage to have any play money.
- I don't seem to have any money left over for savings.
- I can't save for retirement.
- I somehow wind up paying more for expenses than I imagine.
How you'll benefit: You'll immediately gain control of your finances, which will make you feel more comfortable and confident about your financial situation. Now that you're in control, you'll be able to consider the big picture to make decisions and changes that will enable you to accomplish your goals.
Resolution #2: Focus on Pest Prevention
Who's it for: If you've had a problem with pests or the thought of pests freaks you out, this resolution is for you.
How you'll benefit: If you're not going to live alone, at least share your apartment with roommates -- not pests. You can live more at ease in an apartment that's pest-free, and guests will be more likely to return. Also, by taking preventative measures, you can go to sleep at night knowing you're unlikely to get a pest infestation any time soon.
How to do it: Adopt clean lifestyle habits to keep unwanted rodents and critters out of your apartment for good. Also, commit to reporting any pest problems you spot in common areas to your landlord.
Resolution #3: Get Familiar With My Rights
Who's it for: Every apartment dweller can benefit by learning more about tenants' rights. If you have a disability, you have additional legal protections. Also, if you've been discriminated in the past because of your race, religion, sex, or other characteristic, it's helpful to know exactly what the law says about how you're protected and how you can seek justice.
How you'll benefit: Knowing your rights puts you in a position of empowerment when it comes to key aspects of apartment living, such as dealing with your landlord and understanding your lease.
How to do it: Learn about how federal law protects prospects and tenants against illegal housing discrimination, and find out if your state offers any additional protections. If you or your roommate has a disability, be aware of what your landlord must and mustn't do. Finally, visit your state's, county's, or city's Web site to access the full text of relevant landlord-tenant laws. You may also find important information about select laws in the "State & Local Tenant Information" section of this About.com site.
Resolution #4: Get Renter's Insurance
Who's it for: All apartment dwellers can benefit from the liability component of a renter's insurance policy. Plus, if you have belongings that you care about, a policy can help compensate you if you suffer a loss.
How you'll benefit: Your landlord may have insurance, but it won't help you if your things are damaged or destroyed. A good renter's insurance policy will pay you after a loss, plus protect you against liability claims that others may make against you.
How to do it: Learn more about renter's insurance, including how to buy a policy and how much it should cost, by reading the answers to frequently asked questions about renter's insurance.
Resolution #5: Spruce Up Your Wall Decor
Who's it for: Maybe you moved in several months ago and never got around to making your place look like it's your own. Or perhaps you're just bored of looking at the same things on your walls every day. Either way, revisiting your wall decor may be the perfect resolution for you.
How you'll benefit: Changing your wall decor is a refreshing feeling and doesn't cost as much as buying new furniture. You might even feel as if you've moved, but without the hassle.
Resolution #6: Find a Good Roommate
Who's it for: Renters who have had problems with current or past roommates may wish to resolve to find a good roommate this time around.
How you'll benefit: Living with a roommate you like can make for a wonderful apartment experience. On the other hand, sharing your place with someone who's not compatible with you can turn into a nightmare.
How to do it: Follow this three-step plan to find the perfect roommate for you.
Resolution #7: Be a Better Neighbor
Who's it for: When it comes to being a good apartment neighbor, what's more important than being a great neighbor is not being a bad one. If you've had run-ins with neighbors and you're ready to admit (at least to yourself) that perhaps you're at least part to blame, you can resolve to be a better neighbor going forward.
How you'll benefit: You'll gain greater peace of mind each day coming home to an apartment without feeling tension with neighbors. When you and your neighbors share a mutual feeling of respect, you'll enjoy your apartment living that much more. Plus, you never know when you might need a favor from a neighbor.
How to do it: Review the options for dealing with neighbors who cause problems, and take a moment to calm down before knocking on your neighbor's door to complain.