Going to college can be the most rewarding time of your life. You’ll make new friends, learn valuable skills, and take a big step toward entering adulthood. Packing for your college experience can feel overwhelming, however.
There are ways to save money, stay organized, and make the transition from living at home to living in a dorm easier and less stressful. This article will give you resources to save money when packing for college, tips for packing for the big trip, and even preparing simple hacks for dorm life.
1. Plan for Your Tuition Costs Before Going to College
Everyone knows college costs a lot of money. That’s not a big secret. Figuring out how to pay for tuition may be a concern for you. Fortunately, an easy way to finance your college education is by getting a FAFSA loan. There are some important things to understand about FAFSA loans before you apply.
You can also reduce your overall tuition. Reducing your tuition debt before going to college can help you in two ways. The internet has made it very easy to find plenty of easy scholarships you can apply for.
2. Save Money in Creative Ways
Preparing for college will require adjusting your spending habits. Unless you’re coming for a family that’s very well off, you’ll likely have fewer resources available to you while away at college. There are several simple things you can do to stretch your dollars further in school.
One way is simply by shopping secondhand. Many people donate their clothes to secondhand stores for many reasons. Maybe someone grew out of their clothes. Or they changed styles. Regardless, shopping secondhand is a great way to save money on college needs. You’ll also be helping the environment by saving items from going to a landfill.
You can find creative ways to save money while in college, too. Some of them might even come from unexpected places. Are you planning on watching TV in your dorm? There are even ways to watch TV without cable, saving you a lot of money each month.
3. Stay Organized When College Packing
It doesn’t matter what age you are. Whether grown-up, teen, or child, moving to someplace new to live can be overwhelming. It is far too easy to lose track of things. Start with “staying organized” in mind when packing.
Start labeling everything – boxes, clothes, games, everything. By labeling all your belongings, you won’t pull things out of a box and think, “What is that doing here?” Keeping items separate when it matters will help, too.
Are you taking an ink printer to college? Take the ink cartridges out for the trip. You’ll save yourself a lot of grief (and ink stains) by doing that.
4. Protect Everything You Pack
Your clothes can be used as padding, so your breakable items arrive in one piece. Wrap your clothes around the outside of individual glasses, plates, and even games. You can protect your gaming consoles, laptop, and other electronics by getting a good quality surge protector.
5. Save Money by Eating in Your Dorm
Dorm food has the reputation to be, shall we say, less than great. However, you can also save money by cooking your own food in your dorm. Prepare for your new culinary independence by getting yourself some good cookware you can use. By cooking your own meals, you can avoid dorm food and discover the satisfaction of making your own meals.
Pack plenty of nonperishable items you can store for weeks at a time in your room. With just a little effort and creativity, you can whip up fast, easy meals in your dorm, skip eating out, and still save a lot of money. Go online and research simple college recipes that don’t take much work. College life is a lot of things, but it doesn’t have to be torture on your taste buds!
6. Prepare for Your College Housing
What if you have decided dorm life is not for you? There are simple things you can do to save money. Which path you take depends on how far away from home your college is.
If your first college experience is a community college, you may have the option of staying at home with your family. While going out and having your own space is a great feeling, it may make sense to put it off for a little while longer if you can save money.
Getting your own apartment is an option, too. Start by looking at apartment options close to the college. You’ll save yourself a lot of headaches and money if you can walk to college. Trying to maintain a vehicle to get to college (or relying on a friend or public transportation) can be a stressful way to embark on your college adventure.
Once you’ve found a place that fits you, look for other ways to save money. Consider having one or more roommates to help divide the living expenses. Do you have a dog or cat at home?
When dealing with landlords, be sure you know your rights under the Fair Housing Act. It protects renters from discrimination based on age, race, disability, and other factors. One example of the benefits of the Fair Housing Act? If you suffer from anxiety, you may be able to get your pet certified as an emotional support animal. Having a valid ESA letter protects you from a landlord who adds surcharges for pets to the rent.
7. Prepare for College Daily Life
While this article focuses mainly on packing and preparing for college life, prepping also includes good habits. Once you are in college, you will want to make the most of it. Bring any study aids you find helpful with you. If there are other resources, such as online guides, have them stored in a safe place. Bookmarking favorite sites on your laptop is a good idea, but having an offline record of websites and other resources (such as online math tutors) in a notebook means you can still access those items even if your laptop crashes.
College’s Other Big Benefit
Remember that college is not only about academics. College is also about preparing you for all parts of your life. These packing and preparing tips in this article can serve as ways to prepare for life after college. You can develop great habits that will serve you for the rest of your life.