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Four Ways to Save Money while Living Off-Campus

Think living off campus this semester will save you money? Well it is a little harder than you might think.  But before you start missing your old dorm room, try these tips to making your piggy bank a little happier this semester while living off campus.

Coordinate Showers for After Workouts

If I simply told you to “take cold showers” to save a few bucks on utilities, you’d probably laugh in my face. But, if you plan out your showers so that they immediately follow a run, gym workout, sport practice, Zumba class, or other form of physical activity during which you work up a good sweat, cold water will actually feel refreshing, not uncomfortable. Research also shows that cold showers give you better circulation, improve complexion, foster healthier hair, help relieve fatigue, increase mental alertness, and even treat depression! So save money on your water and heating bills and feel better: exercise, then take a cold shower.

Skip on Cable

Verizon or Comcast cable service in this area can cost upwards of $100 a month—which is a lot, even when split 5 ways. Instead of paying over $200 for cable during the year, you can probably find episodes of most of your favorite television shows online for free, either on Hulu or on the network’s website. You can also stream sport games live from many websites, such as livetv.ru/en, so you never miss out when your favorite teams play!

If the prospect of having to watch shows or games on your small laptop screen is discouraging, then invest in a $10-$15 HDMI cable (available at outlets such as Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart, or online) to hook your laptop up to your high-definition television. This is a relatively cheap one-time expense, and the cable will last you. It also has the added bonus of being useful for screening slideshows or presentations from your laptop on the big screen.

And don’t forget, if your parents have Verizon or Comcast at home, you can access FiOS on Demand and Xfinity on Demand at school on your laptop, iPad, iPhone, or Android device. HBO also has an on-demand application, HBO GO, so if you (or your parents) have an HBO membership, you can also access HBO movies and series on these devices, as well as on gaming consoles such as Xbox or Wii. 

If you don’t have HBO GO, or still want more options when it comes to movie and television show selections, consider a Netflix membership. At only $8 per month, the subscription is merely pocket change compared to cable costs, especially when divided among house members. Plus, like the other on demand options, you can watch Netflix on your laptop, tablet, smart phone, and gaming console, not just the TV.

Throw a Party

No, I’m not condoning a massive rave full of underclassmen in your tiny off-campus house that will disturb your neighbors or call attention to cops. But there are potential benefits to hosting a social shindig for your and your housemates’ friends. Doing so does require a bit of effort and a time commitment, from planning to hosting the event, and also entails fronting money for food, beverages, and any other supplies. But if you look for good deals on snacks and drinks, and then ask your friends to all chip in $5 (or some other appropriate amount), then you can put any profit you make towards that month’s utility bill, meaning less (or none!) of your out-of-pocket money going towards gas and electric costs.

And don’t just stick to your old freshmen floor mates or current sorority sisters; consider inviting friends from different social circles, whether you know them from a class, job, sport team, student government, club, or some other organization you are involved in, so that your event becomes a way for your friends to meet new people. Encourage your housemates to do the same, and you might end up meeting some awesome new acquaintances too!

Talk to Your Landlord

Some landlords will give a discount on rent if you pay all in cash, rather than by check. Or, they might be willing to lower rent costs, either over winter break, for your last month, or maybe even permanently, if you consistently pay on time each month and do not cause any problems for them.

Even if they don’t offer any discount incentive, be sure to keep your house clean and in good condition! Remember, you already gave your landlord one month’s (or maybe even more) worth of rent as a security deposit. As long as you and your housemates don’t break any part of the house (or furnishings that came with it) or cause any other form of damage, you should get this security deposit back at the end of your lease. Your landlord might even be willing to let the security deposit cover the last month’s rent, saving your from fronting more money. Otherwise, after you move out and your deposit is returned, you’ll have an extra $500 to put towards your new apartment, fund a shopping spree for a new, professional work wardrobe, help with grad school costs, or pay back mom and dad.

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