Neogtiating One’s Rent Like a Boss.

*This post is part of the Short and Feisty Finance Series*

I knew that moving from a small city on the east coast to Los Angeles would squeeze my wallet until it was contorted into an almost unrecognizable shape.

I knew that my $1,050 rent for an incredibly spacious 2 bedroom duplex with 2 sun rooms, a living room, formal dining room, a screened-in back porch, and 1.5 bathrooms (sigh) would just be a distant memory of a life once lived.

But HOLY CRAP–it’s expensive to live here! And not just in the city–the suburbs are just as bad (if not worse–I’m looking at you, Manhattan Beach and Burbank)!

I knew less than 5 people in Los Angeles when I made the trek West. One of my best friend’s aunts lived in the OC, but I only really knew one friend within the city limits (hi, Amy!) and we’d never spent a significant amount of one-on-one time together. She was sweet enough to let me stay with her for two weeks, rent free, after landing here off of the 10 freeway (that’s another thing–in LA, they aren’t “interstates” or “highways”–they’re “freeways”).

It just so happened that a unit in her rent-controlled building opened up. Though my rent for this one bedroom was more expensive than my 2 bedroom apartment back home (sigh, again), I also had a friend moving to LA the following month that would move-in and split it with me.

Fast-forward nearly three years. Because of the rent control, my rent had only been raised twice and only by $100 total. I had gone from an “ok” paying job, to a high paying nanny job, to a high-ish paying nanny job within that time span. I was also living in the apartment solo as my roommate relocated to NYC.

Now that my hours are lower with my current nanny family (on account of only working 3 solid days a week), I was feeling the squeeze on my wallet again. My rent was due to be raised at the beginning of September by another $50 and I was starting to sweat.

To State the Obvious: I have deduced that moving into a shared space situation, though seemingly more economical, isn’t so much for me. The cost of my rent-controlled one bedroom is evening out with the cost of a two bedroom share in the neighborhoods I feel comfortable living in (as in, I’m not AS afraid to walk home alone from my car in the dark). The price of renting has skyrocketed in the last three years and if the rent is dirt cheap in Los Angeles, chances are, you’re safety isn’t guaranteed.

Back to my dilemma: the rent is too damn high.

I knew that a rent increase wouldn’t completely kill my budget, but I wanted to do anything possible to keep it from happening. I also knew that one of the most basic principles of negotiation was to start at either extreme (really low or really high) and negotiate your way to the middle.

So, one week ago, instead of asking them to freeze my rent, I straight up asked them to lower it.

In an email I sent through my building manager, I laid out several facts:

  • I have faithfully paid my rent in-full and on-time for nearly three years,
  • I am single, no kids, and no pets (which is a hot commodity on the rental market!),
  • I have always followed the noise guidelines outlined in my contract (unlike other tenants in my building),
  • I reminded them that I wrote an awesome YELP! review for my rental company back in January,
  • I praised the property (it really is lovely) and pointed out several tenants that had been in the building for 10+ years and how much I wanted to live there as long as possible.

A few days passed before I got any sort of response and there were several “Doubting Thomases(or Doubting Evans, ahem)” in my acquaintance who thought I wouldn’t get any sort of break from my building owners.

Three days later, my apartment manager emailed back–the long and short of it is that they just rented a unit in my building for $295/mo more than I am currently paying (a quick zillow search confirmed. Zillow is my bff). BUT, she put in a good word for me, and since I gave them some valid points, they’re going to freeze my rent for the next year.

HUZZAH and Hallelujah.

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Short and Feisty Finances

Now that I’ve come to grips with the fact that my career in the entertainment industry isn’t entirely in my own hands, I’ve decided to switch my obsessive-control-focus to something I DO have a larger say in: my finances.

And because I love to share (read: overshare), I’m going to document the steps I’m taking to live debt-free here on my blog.

I know, I know.

A FINANCE SERIES?! REALLY?!

I fully realize that some of you come here for fun and entertaining content. Sometimes to laugh with me, but most of the time to laugh AT me–and I’m 100% ok with that.

But I promise to spice these topics up! You’ll hear about my high-highs, and my low-really-low-lows. There will be plenty of opportunity to guffaw at my missteps and mentally applaud my successes (because if you’re actually applauding while reading my blog, you’re going to look kind of funny).

I also realize that there are a-million-and-one people blogging and writing about finance on the interwebs. Some of them even have extensive knowledge and education on the subject (imagine!). What I think will make my blogging here more unique is the fact that I’m doing it entirely on a single income, without much mathematical knowledge beyond basic arithmetic, without parental financial assistance, and in a pretty expensive major metropolitan city (whaddup, LA?!).

I’ve already gotten a jump start to securing a better financial future by paying off both my student loans and credit card debt. I promised several people I would document how I did this within my 4.5 years out of undergrad, and I intend to do that within the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

Here is a list of topics I hope to cover (hold me to them!). Get excited, my friends:

GET EXCITED, my friends.

It’s Time for an Update

It’s been a million years (really 2 months) since my last blog post, which calls for some updates.

1) Me reaching my lofty goal of finding an agent by June 1st didn’t quite happen. I did, however have two agent meetings (a feat that I don’t think I would’ve accomplished without having set that goal in the first place). One was an “invited open call”– something I had never even heard of before I stepped into their office. Essentially, it’s like an open casting call for people that’ve reached out to them that fit the demographics they are looking for. You go in, perform a prepared monologue, and do a cold read of another piece and that’s it. Kind of a let down because you don’t actually get to talk to the agents, it’s more like a traditional audition for a show.

THEN, my other meeting was a legit agent meeting with a boutique agency that I didn’t think meshed well with what I’m looking for. In short, the owner was a little too eccentric and we didn’t even discuss my prior experience or projects…the owner made some sports analogies along with providing some personal anecdotes and offered me representation. I know the old adage “beggars can’t be choosers” but it didn’t feel like a good fit!

I’m seriously hoping that I made the right choice in moving on from that one, but I’m beginning to feel my leg rear back to kick myself in the pants.

Hmmm, what else.

2) OH! The short film I shot to get out of my “woe is me” rut last March is almost completely finished. I always wondered why projects took so long in post production and I’ve finally figured it out: if you don’t have a motivated enough producer, shit doesn’t get done.

In this case, that producer was me.

I opted to have the film professionally edited and scored, which added time to the overall production, but not so much that it took that insanely long to finish a 3:30 short.

At least it’s almost done, so put away those judge-y eyes!

3) I spent the last month nannying for two families at once. Though the financial boom from this decision will certainly help this nearly-starving artist, my productivity in the creative realm hit an all-time rock bottom. Not one blog was written. Not one script was researched or typed. Not one audition was had.

Not to mention I nearly went insane forgoing days off for three weeks. I had a nice little panic attack and cry-fest. Really “cleaned out the emotional system”. Not to mention that it unclogged my stuffy nose.

So maybe I won’t do that again.

In conclusion: I wish there was more to write, more updates to give, and more progress in the acting/writing career realm, but I’ve got nothin’. I’m as disappointed as you are, really, but them’s the breaks.

But I did see this incredibly cheesy quote floating around the Internets this week, and I’m hoping it’s prophetic:

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