You’re spending enough money on college already. Skip the unnecessary investments, and consider renting these five things:
The sad truth is that textbooks are ridiculously expensive and almost always required (whether you actually end up using them or not), but we suggest being strategic about the ones that you rent vs. those that you buy.
For your general education or non-major courses, rent, rent, rent! When will you ever read about mitochondria after this intro biology class? The answer is never. Odds are, you won’t need to buy a textbook during your first and maybe even second years of school. Once you start digging into the material you’re passionate about and will possibly need for your future career, by all means consider buying!
Going on that awesome camping trip with your friends doesn’t need to involve taking out a loan. Many college recreational centers offer affordable equipment rental – everything from tents and sleeping bags to volleyball nets and ice chests. If this isn’t an option at your school, outdoor retailers like REI also have equipment for rent in certain locations.
Many dorm rooms and off-campus apartments come already furnished to accommodate students, but if not, furniture rental is a great option that most people aren’t aware of. If you invest in a twin bed, student desk, and tiny dresser when you move in, you’re stuck with college-style furniture once you’re ready to graduate to the real world. Instead, services like CORT can deliver and assemble furniture for your apartment, and then come pick it back up when you’re ready to move on. They even have special student packages to suit more personalized needs.
Let’s face it, things go wrong when you’re living on your own for the first time, and you probably want to prove that you can handle simple repairs (you’re a capable adult!). Unfortunately, a toolkit doesn’t fit in most students’ budgets or in their storage space. So since you’ll only use specialized tools every once in a while, renting from a hardware store like Home Depot is probably your best option. They have everything you could need (and much, much more) for projects around the apartment.
Pets (don’t actually rent them – it’s called fostering)
Pets are a huge, long-term commitment that college students tend to gravitate toward because they’re excited to have their own space and to be making their own decisions. The real problem arises after graduation, when it’s hard to predict if having a pet will still be practical with your new work schedule. While you used to be able to walk Sparky in between your classes, life is less flexible when you’re in the office from 9-5.
A great compromise is fostering pets through your local animal shelters or non-profits in the area that use a fostering system. You may not get to keep that adorable puppy forever, but at least you’re giving it a safe and loving home until a more permanent solution comes along.
So as you navigate college and living on your own for the first time, keep in mind that you don’t need to buy everything. And more likely than not, you don’t want to.