Going off to college is an exciting time! Your world is about to open wide, providing you with new opportunities to expand your mind, meet new people, and begin the groundwork for your career (or figure out exactly what you want to do as a career). One very important skill you’ll need is learning how to save while living on your own. The easy first step is finding out what you don’t need to buy.
• A printer. They take up too much space, and the cost of ink and paper can add up. Check with your college to see if they have a printer allowance (usually included in the school’s technology fee), giving you access to the school’s printers. Also, many professors prefer that you turn in your papers electronically through the school’s educational portal (e.g., Blackboard or Moodle.)
• Computer software. Most schools have special arrangements with Microsoft to provide the Office Student to their students for free. For virus software, if you have cable at home, virus software is usually available to download through the cable provider.
• Toilet papers and bathroom cleaning supplies. If you’re living in a dorm with shared bathrooms, you won’t need these products. But if you’re living in a suite style dorm with its own bathroom, check with the school to see if room and board fees include janitorial services. If not, try to buy these in bulk or at discount stores so you don’t wind up buying them at a marked-up rate at campus convenience stores.
• Television. First of all, with classes, homework, and studying, you’ll have very little free time to watch TV. Second, your laptop will be able to stream most of your favorite shows. Third, most colleges have TVs in common rooms. Many college students share streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, or HBO Go to save money.
• Ironing board and iron. They take up too much space and you’ll likely use it…maybe never. If wrinkled clothes really bother you, get a small steamer instead. Downy Wrinkle Releaser spray can also work in a pinch, and it smells great!
• A car. You’re going to spend most of your time on campus, so there’s little reason to pay for monthly loan payments, parking fees, gas, and insurance. Some college don’t even allow new students to bring a vehicle to campus. Use public transportation or a bike to get to places too far to walk.
Another way to save is to keep track of small expenses, like eating out or entertainment. Those expenses add up over time. For instance, just buying a Starbucks latte (around $4.00) every day means you’ll spend $300 on coffee in one semester! Keep a coffee maker in your room and get a cool coffee thermos instead.
Be sure to start a savings account for college. You can save automatically with Automatic Transfers from each paycheck. This makes saving easy and ensures that you will be consistent. Having some money in reserves when you get to campus makes the adjustment easier.
Make a budget and do your best to stick to it. It’ll make saving money much easier, and living on your own a lot less stressful!
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