For many students, living away at college is the first time living away from parents or guardians. Students may not be used to the myriad of things that come with living on your own like buying groceries or doing your own laundry. Here are a few tips on how to make the most of the experience and how to survive on your own.
One of the first things to remember is to budget your money. You are a college student and, even with a job here, you may not be able to buy everything you want. Go to the dollar store often. They have surprisingly decent items there. The same goes for the food at Walmart and Aldi.
Instead of running to the store every time you need something, grab everything you need all at once when you go, even if you still have a bit of something left. This will save you time, energy and—if you have a vehicle—gas money. It’s also a good idea to buy in bulk whenever you can, especially on things you use daily like personal hygiene items. For example, grabbing a two-pack of toothpaste will end up being cheaper than buying toothpaste individually. Another good money-saving tip is to clip coupons. It doesn't matter how dorky you think it makes you or how much you get picked on—clip those coupons. You'll be amazed at how much money you save in the long run.
When it comes to food, cook it in advance. At home, your parents or guardians might have cooked dinner for you. Even living on campus, you could have had food provided for you through campus meals. If you’re in an apartment, however, you probably have to fend for yourself. Even if you live in a dorm, sometimes you’ll need a bite to eat after the dining halls close. You might just crave homemade food. One day each weekend, make plans to sit down and pre-cook a few meals for the week. That way—even on your busiest days and latest nights—you'll have food that will be ready to eat and filling.
Picking one specific day to do laundry is a good way to establish a routine and not waste money. Make sure you have quarters if you’re in a house or apartment that requires them. Like cooking, laundry is time-consuming. If you don’t keep up with it, you may find yourself stressed out when you need to throw on an outfit before running to class. Maintaining a good laundry regiment will save you a lot of unnecessary headaches and mismatched outfits.
Doing your best to follow these tips can help you eliminate a lot of excess stress and spending in your life. Being in college is hard enough. Take the time to do things to make your life a little easier and you’ll be surprised at how much better you feel overall.