Friday, February 21, 2020

Top 10 ways to save money when living off campus

October 3, 2019
<p>A kitchen in an apartment on Sept. 4, 2015, at Haslett Arms Apartments, 145 Collingwood. Jack Stephan/The State News</p>

A kitchen in an apartment on Sept. 4, 2015, at Haslett Arms Apartments, 145 Collingwood. Jack Stephan/The State News

Photo by Jack Stephan | The State News

Moving off campus can be oddly overwhelming.  As painful as the dorms were, you always knew where you were going to eat, do laundry and other housekeeping tasks. Now that you’re no longer living in the dorms, you’re going to want to make your money go a little further. Here are some tips to make that happen.

1. Ramen

This is an obvious one, right? The biggest difference between living on campus and off campus in terms of out-of-pocket costs is food, and the temptation to go to Chipotle or McDonald's for every meal is tremendous. Every time you eat Ramen (or Lean Cuisine or whatever other cheap in-house food) instead of buying food from a restaurant, think of that as money earned.

2. Get the legs pumping

Uber charges rack up quickly if you're not careful. Particularly during the months when it's bearable outside (September, October, March, April), walk as many places as you can. If you're headed to the bars or to a party, try to at least walk there or back and Uber the other way.

3. Coupons

It's not just for your Aunt Ethel. When you're about to go grocery shopping, make a plan and see if there are any coupons you can use to buy what you were already going to. Grocery shopping costs a lot of money, and any time you can lessen that load, you just gotta do it.

4. Buy in bulk

Consider getting a Costco or Sam’s Club membership — it’s about $60 a year, and if you live off campus, you probably have the room to store more things. You could theoretically stock up on non-perishables and toiletries with one trip that'll last you the whole year (for a much smaller unit cost) and then not have to buy them again. That’s cost-effective.

5. Take it easy when going out

Have a plan when you’re going out on how much you’re willing to spend, and if you can’t afford it, do not buy rounds of drinks for your friends. You might feel like a baller in the short-term, but it’s gonna be brutal on the bank account the next day. Plus, headaches! Remember, at bars, water is free. Take advantage.

RELATED: Tips and tricks for grocery shopping on a budget

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6. CATA

Taking the bus is a really cost-effective way to get places if you’re not in a hurry. It’s quicker than walking — obviously — and if you don’t have a car, it’s way cheaper than an Uber. Plus, CATA gets a bad rep. They’re on time a lot more often than they get credit for, and most of the drivers are really friendly. It’s not a bad option.

7. Cut those cords

The dorms have free cable, which is a nice bonus, but let’s be honest — paying for cable isn’t worth it. Use your parents’ (or somebody else’s parents’) password to stream whatever show you’re binging, and if you want to watch sports, Reddit is your best friend. 

8. Filtered, not bottled

Plastic water bottles are bad for the environment and the cost adds up. Buy a Brita filter for your water, then buy one reusable water bottle so you’re drinking water for free. Very few things in this world are free — take advantage of what is.

9. Print at an apartment complex

Need to print stuff out for a class? If you live in an apartment complex, they might have free printing in the office, and if you don’t live in an apartment complex, ask one of your friends who does.

10. Go furniture shopping somewhere that isn't Target

You might think of thrift shops as a place where you can get overalls or cute wine glasses, but consider that you could buy furniture there also. You can get pretty cheap furniture that’s not damaged. 

This story is part of our fall 2019 housing guide. Find more stories about on and off campus living in this week's print edition of The State News, or click here.

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