Here are a few tips for you to follow as you consider putting your child in a residence hall:
1. Ask about all the expenses. Make a list of possible expenses, including internet bills, parking, meals, rent, and other additional expenses that your child might incur. Now, compare that with the nearest apartments to check how much cheaper the residence hall might be.
2. Check out the news: Google is your friend. Find out if there have been incidents of theft or crime in the residence hall that you are thinking of, or if the residence hall has a less-than-reliable reputation. No amount of money can ever substitute for your child’s security!
3. Visit the residence hall. Has it been newly renovated? Is it clean? A residence hall offers the advantage of your child getting a clean room, especially since many residence halls penalize poorly-managed rooms. How well-maintained are the rooms, and has the residence hall been changed to accommodate newer, more stringent safety standards? Consider this when shopping for your kids’ college lodgings.
4.Encourage your child to talk to you – especially about their roommates. Don’t egg your kids into giving up their roommates or into sharing stories. Listen closely to your kids and encourage them to make their own decisions, especially when it comes to roommates who are dirty, who might steal, or who are difficult to live with.
If you are living in a residence hall and want to save money, here are a few tips that you might also want to take into account.
1. Always shop on a full stomach – and if you can, take a picture of your dorm room with you! You might be tempted to buy a lot of food simply because you’re hungry. But will the food even fit in your room? Is it even necessary? Always carry around a reminder that you can only spend as much as it is convenient for you to deal with.
2. Buy in bulk and split the costs. Talk to your roommates about buying toiletries in bulk. Toilet paper, soap, and to some extent, laundry detergent can be cheaper if you all pitch in. Of course, you’ll need to deal with equal splits, or you could all end up quarreling about who has to pay more because of how much they use.
3. Try cooking! Eating out can be expensive. For a total of around $20, you can have a full week’s worth of lunches. Shop for fresh vegetables, pasta, whole grain bread, and lean meat. When you get home to your residence hall, start cooking them all up immediately into your favorite stew. Store them in airtight plastic containers and label them well so that your food doesn’t get lost. This brings us to…
4. Invest in safe, airtight plastic containers. You’ll need them to store food that you can just reheat later on.
5. Learn how to bargain shop. Look for a local store that sells clothes and household items on bargain. Collect coupons. You want to save as much money so that if you do get to have your own apartment, you’ll have a lot of savings left over.
Good money saving habits should start early. Whether you’re a parent seeing their child through college, or a student living in a residence hall, make sure that you save money so that you won’t want for it when real emergencies come around.
About the Author: Inez Ponce de Leon holds a PhD in Science Communication. She works as a science communication specialist, and loves to write on a variety of topics, including belly dance, culture, Happy Calm Focused, science communication, sociology, movies, and novels.