How to Make Living Life Off-Campus More Affordable
**The Edvocate is pleased to publish guest posts as way to fuel important conversations surrounding P-20 education in America. The opinions contained within guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of The Edvocate or Dr. Matthew Lynch.**
A guest column by Brooke Chaplan
One of the most exciting things about college and living on your own is getting your first apartment off-campus. It’s a big step and can be a little scary, but doesn’t have to be expensive or a very difficult transition. There are a few things you can do to make sure living your life off-campus is enjoyable and won’t put you deep in debt.
Find an Apartment Close to Public Transportation
One of the best ways to save money while living off campus is to find an apartment within comfortable walking distance of public transportation. Owning a car is expensive. Between monthly car payments, gas, insurance, and regular car maintenance, cars can be a money pit. That’s not even mentioning if you have to pay extra for parking or, worse, park on the street where you could incur damage that you have no control over. Finding an apartment close to the bus or train line will let you get to and from campus, the grocery store, or anywhere else you need at an affordable rate.
Use Weekly Grocery Ads and Buy In Bulk
Buying in bulk and using coupons aren’t just for soccer moms and reality show stars. Shopping with coupons and using the weekly ads to plan your meals is a great way to stock on up items on the cheap and save money. Is chicken on sale? Buy in bulk, separate the pieces into individual freezer bags, and freeze what you won’t eat right away. Choose frozen over fresh when buying vegetables and fruit unless you plan on eating them right away. Fresh veggies and fruit can go bad quickly while flash freezing just after picking, preserving nutrients in a way fresh fruit cannot. Shopping smart in bulk will save you a lot of money in the long run.
Monitor Your Bank Account Closely
It is smart to get a bank card as soon as you have the opportunity, but do not confuse your debit card with a credit card. A bank card will help you save money by never carrying cash, but it will also help you track your expenses and keep an eye on what money you have available without incurring massive amounts of credit card debt. Most banks like the State Banks of Cross Plains also have online accounts that can help you easily see what you’ve spent and what you have left.
Living off campus doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor that drains your bank account. You can enjoy the freedom of an apartment while still keeping your budget in line by using just a few smart tips.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening.