Today’s guest post is from Chelle Stein. He writes about college dorm living at CollegeDormIdeas.com.
Many students each year decide to live on campus when attending college. Not only does this offer great convenience of being able to get to class and college functions easily, but it is also a great leap in becoming independent and a chance to make lifelong friends. It can be a great experience and some may even consider it to be a rite of passage. [Editor’s Note: I do not advocate living in the dorms because of reasons both financial and moral.] While financial aid may help cover the cost of room and board to make it possible to live on campus, learning a few simple ways to save money can greatly help reduce your housing related expenses.
Here are ten ways college students can save money on student housing:
1. Comparison Shop
Depending on which school you decide to attend, there may be several different options available for housing with some being less expensive than others. For example, your standard shared dorm room will likely be far less expensive than an apartment suite. Doing some research on what different options are available and choosing one that is the most reasonably priced can save you thousands of dollars within a few years.
2. Make Use of School-Issued Furniture
The furniture your school provides may not be glamorous or stylish, but for the most part it is functional. If the school provides you with a desk, chairs, bed, and other items use it. Doing this can save you hundreds of dollars instead of buying new furniture you may only use for a couple of years.
3. Know the Difference Between Want Vs. Need
With so much attention on back to school shopping and college dorm essentials, it can be difficult to know where to draw the line between things you really need and things that might just be nice to have. For example, if there is a microwave in the community room of your dorm hall, do you really need one in your dorm room? While certain conveniences may be nice, you may decide its best to save that money for something that can be used more wisely.
4. Reconsider Car Expenses
Having a car on campus can be a wonderful luxury but it can also be an expensive one with the costs of insurance, fuel, and maintenance. Many students are surprised how very little a car is actually needed on campus. Not needing a car can greatly reduce your living expenses.
Freecycle.org is dedicated to others offering things they don’t need for free to those in surrounding communities. Just about every major area has a freecycle group you can join and it can be an excellent way to find many of the items you’ll need for college living such as bedding, a mini fridge, furniture, and even artwork for your dorm room walls.
6. Eat Wisely
The cost of food can be another huge hidden expense of living on campus. Buying snacks and drinks out of vending machines or eating out often can quickly add up if you’re not careful. If you decide a meal plan in the best way to go, make sure it is a plan that offers enough food but not more than you can eat.
7. Save on Your Phone
Many college dorms offer a phone in each room with its own phone plans available. If you use a cell phone primarily, then the need for this phone may be minimal. While there’s nothing wrong with calling friends and family long distance, be sure not to overlook this cost also. Calling long distance from your dorm room may result in additional charges you weren’t anticipating. If you already have a cell phone and know that you will be making a lot of long distance phone calls, consider changing to a plan that has unlimited long distance as it could save you more in the long run. Of course, you could also always skip on both phones and instead urge your family and friends to use free services such as Skype that allow you to talk through your computer.
8. Sign Up for Free Samples
Many companies offer free samples for anything from shampoo to energy bars if you have some extra time online to look for different offers and sign up for them. Avoid samples or freebies that require you to purchase anything or give your credit card information however, since these aren’t truly freebies. This is a great way not only to get a lot of things you’ll use or try out new products, but you’ll be able to look forward to things in the mail as well!
9. Share What You Can
There are a lot of items you may need at school that if you can share with others can help reduce your overall expenses. For example, you and your neighbors could share a vacuum or you could share dishes with your room mate.
10. Buy Used Items
A big advocate of buying things used if possible. Not only can you save a ton of money this way, but you can also find some really neat and unique things that no one else has. Yard sales and flea markets can be a great resource for finding inexpensive appliances, lighting, utensils, and even rugs or pillows.
Learning these 10 simple savers for college dorm living can greatly reduce your expenses, and even possibly make it a more affordable option than renting a home and commuting back and forth. Living on campus is a great experience – and with these tips you’ll be able to enjoy it to the fullest without worrying about money.
Do you have any additional tips for saving money on costs associated with campus housing? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!