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Archive | September, 2017

How to Cut Expenses When Living Off Campus

How to Cut Expenses When Living Off Campus

If you’re finally moving out of the dorms into your own off-campus apartment, congratulations! That’s a big life move – at times it can be challenging and perhaps even overwhelming, but it’s never anything less than completely rewarding. However, living on your own means you will be faced with many responsibilities that you haven’t yet had to deal with, most of them financial. To avoid going bankrupt and having to return home after just one semester off campus, follow these tips for cutting your expenses. You’ll thank us for the advice!

Eat at Home

Ditch the college meal plan and just say “no” to eating out. Instead, put your new kitchen to use, and cook at home. Simply by buying groceries, you can save hundreds of dollars per year on food expenses. Additionally, you’ll have more say on what types of food you eat, and may find that your diet is healthier and more sustainable (assuming you don’t simply load up on sodium-rich instant noodles, of course). Plus, as a young college student, cooking and eating at home is a perfect opportunity for socializing – whether you cook with friends, a significant other, or simply a study group, you can enliven your meals with good company.

Take Public Transportation or Bike

If you can avoid it, resist the urge to buy a car until you absolutely need one. Remember, a car payment is only the beginning when it comes to paying for a car; you also have to insure the vehicle and pay for ongoing vehicle maintenance, which can add up to thousands of dollars over the course of a year. Instead, take public transportation or ride a bike around campus. True, some towns and colleges lend themselves to this more than others, but if you find that you mostly stick to one area, you likely don’t need a car of your own. Not yet, anyway.

Split the Utilities (and Rent) with a Roommate

Don’t take on the financial burden of living off campus alone. Instead, move in with a roommate or two. Not only will you be able to split the rent, but you can split utilities as well (assuming your landlord doesn’t cover these costs for you; be sure to inquire before signing the contract so you know what your costs will be). Simply make sure that your name isn’t on all of the contracts, because this makes you legally responsible in the event your roommate misses a payment or runs out on you. If you want to ensure that everyone is paying their fair share, use a rent splitting calculator to estimate each person’s obligation.

Do Your Shopping on Craigslist

Shopping for furniture? Find it on Craigslist. Looking for a commuter bicycle? Find it on Craigslist. Looking for some basic appliances? Find it on Craigslist. For all things discount shopping, Craigslist is your friend! Sure, there are some things that you’ll want to buy new – a mattress, for example – but for many of the things that you’ll need once you move into your new place, you will find that Craigslist has them! And at greatly discounted prices, too.

Cut Out Cable (and Other Needless Subscriptions)

If you’re in college currently, there’s a good chance that you’ve already cut the cord on cable television. But have you considered the idea that with subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, FilmStruck, and HBO Go (not to mention Google Play Music, Apple Music, and Spotify), you aren’t actually saving any money? Yes, each of these services unto themselves are incredibly affordable – often less than $10 per month, in fact – but they only represent a bargain if you stick to just one or two. If you sign up for every service that comes across your desk, you could quickly find yourself spending $100 or more per month on services that you don’t need. Cut back!

Get a Prepaid Phone Plan

With prepaid phone plans, you can get all of the data, talk, and text that you need at a fixed rate. This will help you avoid unnecessary surprises on your phone bill at the end of each month. Plus, you may find that going with a prepaid phone plan is simply the cheaper, more convenient, all-around better option. If you are on an existing plan that you have had for years, and are paying the monthly bill without question, it may finally be time to start questioning it. Do a little bit of cross shopping and price comparison, and you might just find that there are terrific deals available. Stop paying as you go, and sign up for a prepaid plan today.

Watch What You Spend

One of the simplest ways to cut expenses when living off campus is to cut back on spending. Going to the bar, eating out with friends, buying new clothes, hitting up the local clubs, and spending extravagantly on weekend getaways can cost a lot of money. And this is before ever spending a penny on your recurring monthly bills. Don’t pay attention to your expenses, and you may find yourself digging a deeper and deeper financial hole with each passing month. Don’t let that happen. Use apps like Mint to budget accordingly, and embrace free (and affordable) pastimes and attractions, and you can take charge of your finances.

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