What is the only time in most people’s lives when they live in close quarters with a bunch of complete strangers? Well, unless they are spending time behind bars, it’s during college, in the campus dorms.
Tuition, textbooks and housing are the biggest expenses most college students face. Although planning and financial aid may cover the majority of those big-ticket items, what you spend on restaurants, entertainment and other luxuries during can also have a huge impact on your bottom line. Here are a few tips on living the college life on a dime.
If you’ve chosen a school near family, living at home or with relatives is an A+ way to save big on college costs. For those who’ve chosen a school away from family, you will probably need to find local housing or live on campus in an apartment or the dorms.
- Off-Campus Housing: If off-campus housing seems like the best option for you, make sure to start looking for a place as far in advance as possible. Comparing the cost and convenience of your options is key. Sharing a room with a friend or another student is yet another way to cut housing costs. In addition to choosing somewhere affordable, ensure the place you select makes campus easily accessible.
- On-Campus Housing: Although it can be expensive, living on campus delivers serious perks. It allows you to be close to classes and campus resources, and to live around lots of other students your age. Depending on your campus, included food service or kitchen access may also be included.
If dining hall meals are included in your housing costs, score! You’ll have a huge selection of eats available daily without lifting a finger. You’ll just need to avoid paying for food elsewhere, which would essentially mean paying double for food. Taking full advantage of dining hall meals can mean setting an alarm, scheduling classes and planning your day around the specified meal times – do that, and save.
Good thing you have cool people all around you when you’re at college, so there isn’t much need to hit up fancy restaurants or buy expensive concert tickets. Instead of trying to live the high life, think board or video games, cooking meals together, campus events and DVDs from the college library. If you do go out to eat or out on the town, take advantage of that college discount.
Your first time out there, it can be easy to spend a fortune on comforters, posters, curtains and other items for your new place. If you’ve opted for on-campus housing, your place will probably come already furnished, saving you the cash and the hassle. But if you are in need of furniture or you just want to spruce up your dorm room or apartment, shop online deals on sites like Craig’s List or eBay or yard sales and stick to inexpensive home décor. Why spend a bunch of cash on house stuff, when you’ll be spending most of your time at class, the library, and hanging out with friends.
One word for you: public transportation. Biking and walking are awesome options, too. In most college towns, having a car is a liability and not all that convenient. If you can get away without one, it’s a good idea to save yourself the costs of gas, upkeep, parking (not to mention tickets!) and insurance, and leave your wheels back home.