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What to consider when your lease is up

MMI Copywriter

By Kim McGrigg, MMI Community Manager

When you rent a home or apartment, you will inevitably have to make the tough decision about whether or not to move. Most leases are for six months to a year making the decision about where to live a recurring process. While it certainly can be easier to stay put, there are some very legitimate reasons to make a move.

Your landlord changes the rules. Your new lease may not be the same as your old one so make sure that you read the fine print carefully. Watch for rent increases, new fees, and changes to any rules. You should also consider this a time to negotiate any changes you’d like to see made.

It isn’t everything you hoped it would be. Spending money on something you don’t like—no matter how cheap it is—is never a good deal. The same goes for your home. One of the benefits of leasing is that you have the opportunity to make a change if you aren’t satisfied—with no questions asked.

You need more. Over time, your needs will change. Maybe you need more space or more services. Maybe you would like more parking or additional security features. If your existing landlord cannot meet those needs, it may be time to move on.

 Location, location, location. Consider your larger landscape. Is your leased home close to things that are important to you such as your work, your friends, and your family? Is the surrounding neighborhood a good fit for you? If your home isn’t in the right location, it may not be the right home for you.

While there are some valid reasons to make a change, it isn’t smart to move for no good reason. Before you start packing, you should consider the following downsides to moving.

There are some obvious costs. The initial cost of leasing a home or apartment can be steep. You will need to make a deposit and could possibly incur costs associated with moving your services (phone, electrical, gas). Of course, there can also be costs associated with moving your stuff.

There are some not-so-obvious costs. If your existing apartment is in less than satisfactory condition, you will likely have to pay for repairs. Also, keep in mind that you may need or want to purchase furniture and décor items for your new home.

There’s risk involved. You’ve probably heard the old saying “better the devil you know than the devil you don't.” The reality is that your new place might have more problems than your existing one. If you are the kind of person that is afraid of the unknown, you might consider staying put.

Importantly, always keep your lease renewal date in mind and plan accordingly. In some areas, such as those near college campuses, landlords have early renewal deadlines—sometimes several months before the end of the lease. Also, you should research whether or not your lease can automatically renew. Some leases renew automatically if you don’t give them notice by a certain date that you don’t want to renew.

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Smart money moves in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond


When it comes to budgets, one size does not fit all. After all, your life is probably very different than it was five or ten years ago and changed circumstances call for a changed financial plan. The following tips can help you create a smart financial plan tailored to fit your age.

20s and younger—Members of Generation Y are entering the workforce and now comprise the largest consumer group in American history. Unfortunately, there is evidence that Generation Yers can expect to struggle with student loan and credit card debt. On average, Gen Yers have more than three credit cards, and 20 percent carry a balance of more than $10,000, according to Fidelity Investments. In addition, Gen Yers graduate with an average student loan debt of $23,200, according to Sallie Mae – the nation’s largest student loan provider. If you are in your 20s, set yourself up for financial success by using credit responsibly. Now is also the perfect time to take advantage of compound interest by establishing a retirement savings plan.

30s—Generation X is sometimes referred to as Generation Debt. According to a study by Demos, a public policy and research advocacy organization, the average credit card debt for 25-to-34 year-olds is $4,358. Coupled with student loan debt and increased housing costs, many 30-somethings have difficult conditions to deal with. If you are in your 30s, make sure not to acquire more mortgage debt than you can afford and make a concentrated effort to repay education loans. Also, in addition to retirement savings, be sure to establish an emergency savings cushion so that you do not have to rely on credit.

40s—Your 40s should be a good time, financially. Workers in their 40s are likely entering their peak earning years, making this the ideal time to secure their financial footing. If you are in your 40s, paying down debt is imperative. Do not be tempted to take on a lengthy mortgage loan that will haunt you in the future. Now is also a good time to review your retirement goals to make sure you are on track.

50s and beyond—The New Retirement Survey by Merrill Lynch found that Baby Boomers who have a plan and feel financially prepared are more optimistic and less fearful compared with those who do not. If you are behind on your retirement goals, it is time to play catch-up. Congress passed a law that allows individuals who are 50 or older to make “catch-up” contributions of $5,000 for a total of $45,500. Also take the time to prepare or update your will and other important legal documents. As always, maintaining adequate health insurance is a must.

Finally, consumers of all life stages should seek advice from a professional credit counselor or financial planner if needed. After all, a lifetime of financial security is priceless.

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About Money Management International

Money Management International (MMI) is a nonprofit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling and debt management assistance to consumers since 1958. MMI helps consumers trim their expenses, develop a spending plan, and repay debts. Counseling is available by appointment in branch offices and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by telephone and Internet. Services are available in English or Spanish. To learn more, call 866.530.9869 or visit

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