Paying rent is one of life’s necessary evils. And you have to toil away to cover the cost of your too-small dwelling that seems to always need the Super to fix something. But let’s think happy thoughts. What would you do, in a perfect world, if you paid less rent? Here are eight smart and fun things to do with all that extra cash in your pocket at the end of the month.
1. Take Classes to Learn a New Skill
A few years ago, my husband spent an incredible amount of money on helicopter lessons, because learning how to fly an aircraft has been a pursuit of his since his Navy days. Okay, I get it, people have dreams and all, but I also think that if you’re not rich, like we aren’t, those lessons should somehow pay for themselves or earn income down the road. But they didn’t, and still haven’t.
Thus, let my disdain be a lesson in and of itself: If you want to use your leftover rent money to take a class, I highly recommend it, but you should have a purpose, an endgame. For instance, if you’d like to take a pottery class, that’s all well and good, but are you doing it so you can make everybody ashtrays and vases for Christmas, or are you visualizing the potential of becoming proficient enough to sell the items or market yourself as a potter? The choice certainly is yours, but you’d be doing yourself a solid by trying to monetize your new skill, whatever it may be.
2. Upgrade Your Vehicle to Something You Want
There are upsides and downsides to buying a car brand new or used, which should be considered when deciding on a vehicle. But many times we get so lost in the details that we don’t end up with the vehicle we actually want. If you’re in this situation — driving a car or truck that gets you from A to B without much joie de vivre — maybe it’s time to upgrade. It’d be a real possibility if you paid less rent.
Read More: 6 Ways to Resist a Splurge
3. Enhance Your Work Wardrobe
No matter where you work, somebody is judging you on your professional attire. And whether or not you want to believe it, the way you look plays a part in your income potential. It’s not fair, no, because dressing “well” is a relative concept, but it behooves you to be on the trendier, more fitted side of the spectrum. If you’re not feeling as confident as you’d like when you walk into the office, use your rent surplus to upgrade and enhance your wardrobe. Just a few key pieces — a fitted suit and shinier shoes — can do the trick.
4. Pursue a Healthier Lifestyle
It’s true that nobody really needs to pay for exercise. You can do that on your own, without a trainer or even a gym. However, having the ability to work out by your own motivation and wanting to do it are two different things. I’m a self-motivator in all other aspects of my life, but when it comes to exercise, I need help. Which is why I don’t feel bad paying for my gym membership or my personal trainer because I’m using these services to their full potential and seeing results (which is necessary for these expenditures to make sense).
If you’re like me, there’s no harm in using what you would have paid in rent to better your health and your body by getting help along the way.
Read More: 5 Simple Ways to Live Rent-Free
5. Save for That Always-Out-of-Reach Vacation
If you find yourself with the good fortune of paying less rent, you probably won’t be able to pack your bags and jet off on your dream vacation right away. With about a half a year of saving — depending on how much you were able to shave off your rent — that always out-of-reach vacation will be much easier to grasp.
6. Establish a New Side Gig or Small Business
With the sharing economy in full effect — thanks to services like Airbnb, DogVacay, and Uber — you can start earning income with little to no investment. But not all side gigs or small businesses are that easy. If you have an idea in mind that requires start-up capital, use your rent surplus to fund this endeavor.
In fact, I would say that this opportunity trumps everything else on this list so far. Adding another source of income can help you get to those other things faster, but establishing a new revenue generator should always be a priority.
7. Funnel Cash Into Your Home-Buying Fund
Nobody will ever convince me that renting is better than owning your own home — not even the Wall Street Journal. Because why pay someone else to live in their house when you can pay yourself to live in your own house? Get out of that rental prison quicker by establishing a down-payment savings account and sending your rental savings there every month. Stick to it, and you’ll have enough for a down payment before you know it.
8. Invest in Yourself
Go back to school, pursue a higher paying job, learn a new language — do something that will make you a better person and a more attractive employee. The best investment you can make is in yourself. Unless, of course, you have a hot tip on stocks; then I’ll stand corrected.