Going away to college can be the experience of a lifetime. Yet with all the enjoyable moments, there are as many great expenses. If you’re getting ready to rent an apartment—maybe even your first apartment—you might feel overwhelmed. However, there are still plenty of tricks you can use to cut down on costs and save money.
Choosing the apartment
When choosing your next place, write out a list of must-have features and prioritize those over what you would like to have. For instance, compare rent prices near your university with those in the rest of the city and see if location is worth paying for. Maybe if you have access to public transportation or you have a bike, covering longer distances won’t be a problem if the price is significantly better further away.
As a renter, there are many areas where you can reduce expenses. When you’re a student, you’re most likely going to be out and about a lot, so getting a pet may not be the best idea. Plus, if you’re delaying the company of a furry friend, you can avoid paying an extra security deposit and all the expenses that come with caring for the pet.
Reduce daily costs & lower your utilities bill
Little expenditures that occur daily pile up and result in consuming a large chunk of your budget. Getting one or two coffees to go per day—maybe with a pastry on the side—or eating out costs more money than you realize. Consider making your coffee at home and using a reusable mug (which helps the environment as well) and shop in larger quantities to have a supply of snacks you can grab in the morning. It’s important to also try and cook at home. Instead of meeting out, gather your friends and decide to have lunch or dinner together, splitting the cost of the groceries and reducing food waste.
In the same category of mindful routines, being aware of your water and electricity consumption also posits many benefits. Unplugging electronics like the microwave when you’re not using them, turning off the water while brushing your teeth, taking shorter showers, or washing your clothes at a lower temperature are all examples of tiny things you can do that add up over time. You’ll notice the effect on your bill, plus you’ll reduce your carbon footprint as well.
Use students’ discounts
One of the privileges of being a student are the many discounts you can access. Be sure to carry your student ID around at all times. Many cinemas, game rooms, restaurants, and even various shops offer student discounts, so ask around to find the best deals. If you research in advance, you can pick the venues that offer the largest discounts and shop there.
There might be plenty of student activities happening on campus or at your university involving free snacks or pizza and beverages. Take advantage of those as well. Also, there’s no need to buy new textbooks. Ask around and find students who want to sell theirs and buy second hand. You can also sell the textbooks next year to another student who wants to save money.
Plan your budget responsibly
Having a clear idea of how much money you have and where you spend it is also very important. It will help you balance the necessary expenditures with those costs that occur randomly. The golden rule of budgeting is to try and keep the necessary costs (rent, utilities, food) under 50% of your income with 20% going to your wants, like nights out or treat-yourself days. If you’re lucky to manage these percentages, the remaining 30% can go directly to savings. Now, as you most likely won’t have a full-time job, this is harder to achieve. But if you keep track of how much you spend and on what, it will become easier in time.
College is as much about having fun as it is about learning, yet not all the learning is done in classes. Trying to implement a mindset into your daily routine and to be aware of your habits is very important in understanding how well you can manage money. Learning such skills early on will help you to not be shackled by student loans and get a head start after college is complete.
About the author: Mihaela is a passionate reader and writer, with an affinity for language and linguistics, as well as the latest technological developments. She discovered her passion for real estate at RENTCafé, and you can read more of her articles on their blog.
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