College days are usually the very first time you’ve lived away from home. And although the sudden independence is hugely exciting, it can also be very daunting too. Suddenly, you go from having every little detail taken care of by your parents to having to sort everything out by yourself. It’s quite normal to feel a mixture of emotions – excitement at getting to make all the decisions and fear of having to make all the decisions can co-exist. Living alone for the first time, whether in a dorm or a rented apartment, is a big step and a milestone moment in your life. Having the tools to successfully navigate this life change can make all the difference to how prepared you feel. Flying solo takes some adjustment, so be kind to yourself and know your stuff and you’ll soon be soaring.
If you’re living alone for the first time, being mindful of security is likely to be something new. Suddenly, all responsibility for your safety and personal possessions is resting on your shoulders. So being a little more security conscious is quite an important thing. If you’re renting, look for apartments with added security features – video entry can help you see who is entering the building, a gated complex will help keep your things more secure, while things like deadbolt locks, interior door chains and alarm systems are all good for peace of mind. Remember to put away valuables like laptops and phones when you leave home for class, and even on campus don’t leave things unattended. It never hurts to be sure of your security.
Keep On Top Of Cleaning
Sometimes when you move away from home, it’s the basics that can easily slide. And in the whirl of making new friends, getting used to your study schedule and generally settling into a new location, it can be too convenient to forget about your chore schedule. But a disorganised or unclean environment is bad for your mental wellbeing and will cost you time looking for things. So try to put some sort of regular routine in place for keeping your new pad organised and sweet-smelling. Put a cleaning playlist on for 15 minutes and blitz your bathroom, or make it a habit to tidy up in the early evening before you eat dinner. Keeping your study notes filed and well organised will also help you to waste less time. A clean apartment feels very grown up and will keep your life in balance.
Think About Support
Part of being self-supporting is actually recognizing when an issue requires outside help as well. No one likes to think of worst case scenarios, but sometimes bad things do happen, and you can save yourself a lot of heartache if you are properly prepared. Simple things like making sure you have the correct insurance cover for your valuable items, having the number of a student counselling service in case you begin to struggle, keeping the number of a car accident lawyer just in case. Create a contacts book ahead of time so that you know where to turn if you need to.
Plan Your Budget
One of the biggest aspects of living independently for the first time is money management. It’s always a good idea to set up a basic budget, in a spreadsheet or using a budgeting app on your cellphone. Start off by listing all the income you expect – any loans, money from your family or perhaps a part-time job. Then create another list of all your fixed outgoings – rent, bills, tuition, travel, food and other non-negotiable expenses. Lastly, add in a budget for disposable income, like entertainment and clothes. Knowing exactly what you have left and dividing it into a weekly amount can help you to stay on track with your budget. You should also consider getting a credit card, but only use it as a financial backup for genuine emergencies – no social or discretionary expenses should go on there. If it’s too tempting to overspend, keep it in a drawer at your apartment rather than carrying it around in your wallet. Part of learning how to budget is also shopping smart. You can try watching TV for free as a great way to save money as well. Those bills can add up quick and this is a great money-saver.
Bulk-buy inexpensive food staples that don’t go off and go into a tonne of dishes, like canned tomatoes and dry pasta or lentils. Shop seasonally for fresh produce when it’s more cost effective. And try to batch-cook meals and freeze into portions in advance – preparing food is cheaper this way, and it ensures that after a heavy day of lectures, you always have something home cooked and healthy ready to go in a hurry, which saves you giving in to ordering takeout all the time!