How to Stay Afloat Living Off Campus

By Allie Caton on June 27, 2017

Living off campus proves very different from living in a dorm where food, laundry, and friends are all at your fingertips. Suddenly, you’re living off campus and you have to actually travel to see friends and go to the grocery store to fill the kitchen that you now have. This can be not only a big mental jump but also a big transition for your wallet.

Living off campus doesn’t have to break the bank if you are smart about it. In fact, living off campus might be LESS expensive than living in a dorm depending on your school. Take advantage of how awesome it is living in your own apartment or house, and do it with the least amount of financial stress possible by finding small ways to save money.

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1. Buy more veggies to cook at home

Instead of loading up on burger meat and sausages, incorporate more vegetables into your shopping list. For some context, vegetarians save $750 a year by skipping out on animal protein.

Now, you don’t have to become a vegetarian to save money — you can still enjoy a nice steak every once in a while without breaking the bank — but buying more plant products will lead to a heartier supply of pocket money. Going to your local farmer’s market is the most cost effective way to buy produce — it’s fresh, incredibly cheap, and you will be supporting local farmers. Eating more fruits and vegetables is a smart idea for your body and your bank!

In addition to integrating more produce into your diet, you can save big time on actually eating those veggies you bought from the market instead of going out to eat. College students spend around 44 percent of their food money on eating out. Think about how much money you could save just by decreasing that percentage by half, or even a third! By using half of that 44 percent on groceries instead of restaurants, you are sure to come out with at least a few percents left over.

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2. Ride a bike

Now that you are living off campus, you are probably going to need to travel to see friends, to go to work, to go to class, or to get to your favorite restaurant. If your destination isn’t walkable, it might be tempting to just grab an Uber or a taxi, but this isn’t helpful for your budget.

Instead, invest in a bike. While it may feel like a big cost at first, it pays off quickly. The amount of money that you save on public transportation or driving services when you have a bike will quickly be noticeable. You don’t need the fanciest, most expensive bike in the shop either; instead, try finding a cheaper bike at a used bike shop or on Craigslist or eBay. There are tons of cheaper bike options out there, you just have to keep your eyes peeled.

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3. Host parties

This one might sound surprising at first, but if you look at the amount of money spent on food and drinks going to bars, you can see why it’s much more frugal to host a party at your apartment instead. Buying expensive, fancy drinks at your favorite bar is fun every once in a while, but it’s not sustainable if you have bills to pay.

Instead, buy alcohol from a store and have your friends come over to your apartment. If you’re still craving that margarita, there are tons of instructional videos and articles online to follow. After all, what’s the point of having an apartment three times the size of a dorm room if you aren’t going to utilize it for a little fun?

This doesn’t only apply to parties, this can apply to any activity. Have your friends over for a movie night at home instead of going to the theater. By doing this, you skip out on the ticket cost and the outrageously expensive movie theater snack cost. Your off-campus apartment is now your domain — you don’t have to abide by dorm room rules anymore. Use your apartment to have a little fun (as long as you check in with your roommates first) and save money while doing it!

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4. Watch your utilities

Utility bills can add up quickly if you aren’t careful. Luckily, how high your utility bill is every month is in your control. In the winter months, it might be necessary to turn the heat on, so in order to maximize your heat, make sure that any holes or draft areas are sealed up so that heat can’t escape. In the summer, do the same thing with the air conditioning; make sure cold air isn’t being wasted by escaping through open windows or cracks.

Electricity is another big contributor to utility bills. To help keep the electrical bill low, make sure you always turn the lights off when you leave a room, check that the refrigerator is always closed, and generally be aware of appliance use. Instead of leaving chargers plugged into the wall when not in use, take them out as some still use electricity when they aren’t plugged into your device. When your phone or laptop is done charging, take it out — don’t let it sit and chew up unneeded electricity.

Despite monthly rent, there are tons of ways to save money while living off campus. Even some of the smallest changes can help put your bank account at ease. In addition to these tips, look out for everyday ways in your own life to lessen unnecessary spending.

By Allie Caton

Uloop Writer
Allie is a creative at heart. She loves to draw and fawns over comic book illustrations and animation. She hopes to be able to use the skills she has cultivated as a Communications major to bring value to the creative industry. Her goal is to one day work somewhere where she can be around creatives while utilizing her writing and illustration skills.

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