Image from Flickr.

Image from Flickr.

Some may call me cheap and some may call me thrifty. Either way, savings are the aim of my game. I cringe every single time I see someone spending more than their potential costs. While I agree with living in the dorms for your first year of college, I was not a fan of the exorbitant costs of that life.

Rooms were tiny, especially if you lived in a triple room that was originally meant for two students. The meal plan was convenient, but by no means was the food as tasty as it cost. Communal bathrooms were just…well, they were just downright disgusting. I felt so excited to be moving out of the expensive dorms and into off-campus housing, but wasn’t exactly fond of the idea of having to purchase a new bed frame, mattress, desk, desk chair, nightstand, and dresser. If there was any way that I could cut corners and maintain a high-quality residence at a fraction of the cost, I was right on it. Here are my off-campus living savings secrets. Learn them inside and out, utilize them as effectively as you can, and save yourself some serious dough!

Utilize Craigslist & your school’s Free & For Sale Facebook group.

Almost everyone and their grandmas have a Facebook and by that logic, almost every college has its own “Free & For Sale” Facebook group. Think of it as a kind of Craigslist service, but completely run by a safe community of college students, for college students. Before you go out and buy brand spanking new furniture, search through students’ posts for what you need, maybe even make a post asking if anyone has the item.

Most times someone will have it in great condition and will offer it up for free or for an affordable price. I have seen sofas, dining tables, moving services, photography services, interesting costumes, diplomas, and promisingly humorous memes. There is never a dull moment when you’re scrolling through! The sellers are college students who resonate with your feeling strapped for cash and need to scrimp and save wherever possible.

In conjunction with this, you should also look through the “Free” section of Craigslist as many tend to leave desks, bed frames, and the like on the curb for the taking. When I first moved into my apartment, I stumbled upon an IKEA corner desk, which originally retails for about $140, just sitting in front of a home just down the street. I also claimed another IKEA desk, retailing about $160, for $10 through Craigslist. That’s a savings of $290 on two desks, leading each desk to be about five bucks each!

Buy your own groceries.

You don’t need to be the queen of coupon-ing to get a good deal at the supermarket. Just making the effort to pick out your own groceries, even if they’re not exactly the healthiest choices, will save you tons in the long run. We are surrounded these days by so many food delivery services and apps that lure us in with their delivery speeds and costs, but those costs build. You can get pasta, a protein, and a vegetable all for under ten dollars and have enough meals to serve you two to three days out of your week. Heck, even cereal is doable! Boom! Breakfast that will last you days.

Though I don’t recommend it, ramen is also an option…but I mean…I think you should treat yourself a little bit better than that and get some EasyMac. You could totally live off of groceries for substantially less than eating take-out two to three times every single day, given each meal is about $10-$15.

Know your limits.

If you’re a shopaholic like me, this is easier said than done, but try your best to make a judgement call on what is a necessity and what is a luxury. You DO NOT NEED that tall, soy vanilla pumpkin spice latte, or whatever you want to call it. You DO NOT NEED some Beats by Dre headphones. You can make do with using normal earbuds and brewing coffee on your own, if you must. If you want to see substantial savings, live practically and sensibly, not excessively.

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the author

Kelly is a sophomore studying Microbial Biology and Business Administration at the superCALifragilisticexpialidocious University of California, Berkeley. Much of her free time involves Miranda Sings impressions, puns, the woods, concerts, and Netflix. Also food. Always food. Food is bae.

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