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apartment living

Other Student Life

10 Tips to Help Boost Your College Budget

December 5, 2018

The broke college student subsisting on instant ramen noodles and mooching off their parents may be a tired cliché, but it still carries a kernel of truth: college isn’t cheap, and money is often very tight as a result. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re having a hard time keeping your finances in the black during college, there are plenty of steps you can take to improve your situation. With a little bit of planning and ingenuity, the ten tips below can help ease your budget crunch and make sure that you’re getting the very most out of your college experience.

  1. Cut Costs on School Supplies

As any college student can attest, textbooks and other supplies can burn a hole in your wallet in a hurry. Rather than buying new books at the campus bookstore, consider looking for used books online, at local bookstores and even from friends and acquaintances. Alternatively, many modern textbooks can be purchased digitally and downloaded to a tablet or laptop for a much lower price than their physical counterparts. Many other supplies can be bought in bulk for big savings, and again it’s best to avoid campus bookstores and their inflated prices.

  1. Use Credit Cards Responsibly

When it comes to credit cards, there are two common and equally troubling approaches. Some people are tempted by the ability to simply flash some plastic and buy anything they wish, while others are scared away from using them entirely. In reality, there’s no reason to fear credit cards – if they’re used responsibly. In fact, using a credit card for routine purchases and paying off the balance in full each month is a fantastic way to begin building a strong credit history. Just be aware that interest rates are often exceedingly high, so don’t buy something you can’t pay for except in the event of a true emergency.

  1. Cook for a Week

Food is an expense that most college students simply don’t think about, but it can add up quickly. Eating out or signing up for a meal plan isn’t cheap, and relying on cold pizza and Hot Pockets isn’t very healthy. Instead, consider making your own meal plan by devoting a few hours on the weekend to cook meals for the entire week. Simply plan out whichever meals you’d like to eat, make a list of all the necessary ingredients and buy them all at once. Cook the meals, place them in containers and stick them in the freezer. When you’re ready to eat, all you need to do is take your chosen meal out and heat it up. Voila!

  1. Start a Savings Account

It’s never too early to start saving for a rainy day, and a savings account is a great way to do it. Even if you can only afford small, irregular deposits, you’ll be building a financial cushion and earning interest while you’re at it. Most importantly, you’ll begin developing the good saving habits that you’ll need to prepare yourself for the future. Take time to do your research and find the best interest rates available, but be sure to avoid accounts that require a monthly fee.

  1. Use Your Student ID

You may not realize it, but your student ID can be a major money-saving tool. You’ll find a variety of fun activities on nearly any college campus, and your student ID can often snag you a serious discount or even free admission. It’s a great way to stay engaged and enjoy yourself without shelling out much money. Your ID can also earn you savings from a wide range of other stores, venues and websites, so keep your eyes peeled for student discounts wherever you go.

  1. Use Alternative Transportation

If you’re accustomed to driving to and from class, you may not notice how much money you spend on gas and other transportation-related expenses. Whenever possible, consider using alternative means of transportation to save some extra cash. If your commute is short enough, walking or riding a bike is free and can help to keep you in shape. Public transportation is another cost-effective option, and it can even give you an opportunity to sneak in some extra work or studying.

  1. Do Your Homework on Student Loans

Student debt is a massive problem in the United States and managing it poorly can cripple your finances for years to come. Easing that burden begins before you borrow a single cent, as choosing the right loan can make all the difference. It pays to do your research, comparing all available options in search of lower interest rates and payment terms that suit your particular situation. In most cases, federal loans will be the most affordable option, as well as providing fixed rates and more flexibility. It’s also important to determine the smallest loan amount you realistically need, which will keep your balance lower and allow you to repay your debt more quickly.

  1. Work Smarter

Balancing work and school is no easy task, but it’s a financial necessity for many students. If possible, try to find a job that naturally fits into your typical schedule. Many employers near college campuses are willing to provide flexible hours for students, but it’s important to keep your employer updated on your schedule to avoid conflicts. You may even consider taking a job that pays slightly less if it affords you time to do schoolwork.

  1. Make the Most of Your Education

While it may not directly put money in your pocket, staying focused on your education will ensure that you’re getting the best bang for your buck. You’ll be paying for your schooling for quite some time, so it’s important that you get as much out of it as you can. If you go to classes, work hard and set yourself up to succeed in whatever you choose to do after graduation, it’ll be worth every penny that you spend. As an added bonus, spending your time on schoolwork means you’ll have less time to waste money on frivolous things. It may not be as fun in the moment, but your bank account – and your future – will thank you.

  1. Adopt Money-Saving Habits

College is a time to receive an education, but it’s also a time to learn valuable lessons that will serve you for the rest of your life. One of the most important lessons you can learn is how to manage your money, and in particular, how to develop good money-saving habits. Set aside some time every week to review your budget and look for opportunities to save some cash, whether it’s opting for generic brands and using coupons at the grocery store or making your own coffee in the morning instead of paying for an expensive cup at the coffee shop. Learning how to save a few dollars and cents now can make a big difference in staying financially healthy in the long run.

As you begin to “adult” a little more in your daily life, remember to check out GradGuard’s blog for all your college hacks!

 

Beth Kotz is a contributing writer for Credit.com. A graduate of DePaul University in Chicago, she has also been featured as a writer and editor for numerous energy, entertainment, and home blogs.

Other Student Life

Friendsgiving 101: A step-by-step guide to hosting

November 21, 2018

With spooky season behind you and cozy season upon you, it’s time to remind your besties how thankful you are to have them in your life. What better way to practice gratitude towards your friends than with Friendsgiving? Whether your feast is inspired by Pinterest or a host of different family traditions, your friends will be sure to indulge. Pour yourself a cup of hot apple cider and start planning your very own Friendsgiving with these simple steps.

Step One: Create a Facebook Event

Weeks prior to Friendsgiving, send out a Facebook event invite. This allows for a guesstimated headcount. Be sure to plan the time around college football or NFL games for the fans among us. If you are in an apartment complex with a community center, be sure to reserve it in advance as it can fill up around the holidays.  Remind your friends to secure a designated driver or take an Uber or Lyft if they plan on having libations.

Step Two: Make a Google Sheet to coordinate dishes

Seven bowls of mashed potatoes? Let’s hope someone remembered to bring the gravy.

Avoid duplicated dishes by creating a Google Sheet. Divide the sheet into categories and provide staple dishes with corresponding columns for guests to claim the dish with their name. Share this by providing the link in your Facebook event summary.

Step Three: Prepare 

A college budget doesn’t put Friendsgiving off limits. Stores like the 99 cents only and dollar tree have plenty of utensils fit for a crowd. Feeling green? Encourage your guests to bring their own glass containers for leftovers and reusable utensils like these that GradGuard hands out at conferences.

Be sure to empty out your fridge to make room for all of the dishes. Make note of how long each dish will need to heat up and where it can be heated (oven, stovetop, or microwave). Set up stations for appetizers and drinks, the main feast, and dessert. Designate bins for trash and recycle.

Step Four: Clearly label the turducken from the vegducken

It’s not uncommon these days to transform Grandma’s classic green-bean casserole into a vegan-friendly recipe. When your guests arrive with their dish, hand them an allergen card. Here they can label the name of the dish and they can circle if its considered gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, or nut-free.

Step Five: Give thanks

Once all of your guests are seated with a mountain of food in front of them, it’s time for a toast. Remind your friends how grateful you are for having each one of them in your life. Give a cheers to the midterms being behind you and wish your friends luck in the remainder of the semester. They may think it’s corny, but have each person go around and say one thing about your collective friendship that they are most thankful for.

Step Six: Send your guests away with leftovers 

After everyone has loosened their belts a notch, have them get in line for one last round to fill their containers with leftovers until the pans are empty. Offer to clean the pan there or set a reminder to bring it back to them next time you see them.

GradGuard’s employees celebrate the company of one-another each year during a Friendsgiving with their sister company Bindable. From a Bindable Agent’s famous butterscotch bread to GradGuard QA Manager’s mac and cheese, the feast is an event to look forward to. We encourage you to bring Friendsgiving to your university dorm room or internship office, too!

Health Other

5 at Home (or in the Dorms) Cold Remedies

November 20, 2018

Living in a dorm where everyone is right in close proximity can open you up to a lot of things. Unfortunately, one of those things happens to be colds. And while there is not yet a cure for the common cold, there are simple things you can do at home to get you feeling better and back on your feet in time for finals week.

1. If you have a sore throat, strange as it sounds, it’s a good idea to gargle warm salt water. Adding a 1/4 tablespoon of salt to 8 ounces of warm water, and gargling it in the back of your throat can help relieve the pain. The salt helps wash away the nasty things in your throat that cause inflammation and swelling, thus cutting down on the pain in your throat.

2. A cup of tea with honey, while not actually possessing any medicinal qualities, can be a huge relief when you’re all stuffed up and sniffly. Hot tea loosens up your nasal passages and allows air to flow through them again, much in the same way as a nice bowl of chicken noodle soup.

3. Vitamin C is a big one for the prevention and treatment of colds, or really any minor illness. Found in things like citrus fruits, and many fruit juices, it helps cut down on inflammation and mucous and speeds up the production of white blood cells, which in turn speeds up healing. You can also take Vitamin C in pill form as a supplement – Airborne was our savior my freshman year – but many foods, including strawberries, peaches, and broccoli, have a surprisingly high supply.

4. Of course, the classic Vick’s VapoRub always helps clear a stuffy nose and congestion. Applying it liberally to your chest or feet before bedtime can work wonders, and at the very least, ensure you’ll get a good night’s sleep, and not stay up half the night blowing your nose or unable to breathe. If you don’t like the messiness of the rub on stuff, they now have patches you can place on your clothing that have about the same effect.

5. And of course, the most obvious one of all: sleep. In order to fight the infection in your body, lots of sleep is a necessity. Shut your door and close the curtains, and you’ll be asleep in no time. Chances are, your roommates will leave you alone for fear of getting infected themselves so you can nap for hours in peace.

College students are susceptible to illnesses, as well as other mishaps, so it’s important to take the proper precautions. Visit GradGuard for more information!

Other Student Life

What to Ask Your Renters Insurance Agent

November 15, 2018

Being an adult can mean so many different things; first, you have to do your own laundry, second make your own coffee, and third purchase your own renters insurance policy. This can honestly be super daunting to those who still have issues making their own dentist appointments, but we’ve made a simple list of things that you should be sure to ask your renters insurance agent when the time comes!

How do I know what my coverage limits should be?

Most renters insurance policies come with both personal property coverage and personal liability coverage. Personal property coverage is the limit that protects your personal items that are inside of your residence, and personal liability coverage is what protects the actual structure itself. Be sure to talk to your university or rental property to see if they require any specific limits while you are living there.

How much is the policy?

See if your renters insurance agency is charging you monthly, annually, semi-annually, or another billing option. Talk through it with them to see if there is a benefit to one billing option as opposed to another.

How long does the policy last?

This depends on the company that you are purchasing through and what you opted to pay for the policy. If you paid annually, then the policy likely lasts for a full 12 months from the date that you chose your coverage to begin. If you are only needing the insurance for a certain amount of time, be sure to ask your agent about their cancelation process and what is required to terminate the coverage.

What does this policy cover?

This is SUPER important to ask and have an understanding of. For example, if you want to have renters insurance in case someone breaks in and ransacks your apartment, just be sure that theft and burglary is a covered peril under the policy you are wanting.

How does the claims process work?

This is a general question with an important answer. Most people have no idea how to make an insurance claim if needed and it should be one of the top questions to ask your renters insurance agent. The claims process can be different for each agency, so just to be sure you clarify it if needed.

When it comes to purchasing renters insurance, questions are important to ask! We want you to ask questions and have a full understanding of what you are getting. It is so important to know that we are here to help you. Much like a doctor, you should be asking your renters insurance agent as many questions as possible and do not feel like any question you have is too small or too silly. GradGuard has your back and encourages you to ask whatever questions you think are necessary. We are there when you need us and will help you with all of your adulting needs.

Other Transition

5 Reasons to Have College Renters Insurance

November 8, 2018

Think of all your personal belongings in your dorm room or apartment, and then try to imagine how much it would cost you to replace them. Is the number in your head a little intimidating? Well, if you have renters insurance, you might not have to pay anything (besides your deductible) to get your belongings replaced in the event that something happens to them. In other words, renters insurance can be a real lifesaver. Here are five reasons why it can be important to have it in college:

1.  You might not be covered under your parents’ policy.
While full-time students living in dorms are often covered under their parents’ homeowner’s insurance policies, their coverage might not be as thorough as it would be if they had renters insurance. In addition, there can be strict limits on how much homeowner’s insurance can actually cover for their customers’ children. Not to mention if you’re living off campus, odds are that you’re not covered under your parents’ policy at all.

2.  Coverage for disasters.
Though you might be careful and take good care of your belongings, there are some things that are just out of your control. If there’s a fire or natural disaster, your items can get damaged or destroyed. However, if you have renters insurance, it can cover the cost of replacing those things in certain covered circumstances. Just some of the items that renters insurance can cover are furniture, clothes, electronics, appliances, school supplies, and even musical instruments.

3.  Protection from theft.
If someone wants to steal a laptop, they know they’ll be able to find plenty in student housing facilities or student-friendly apartment complexes. It’s no surprise that there’s a high risk of theft and vandalism in college. That’s a big reason why renters insurance can be perfect for college students. If something happens to your belongings, you can get them replaced.

4.  Personal liability coverage.
If you throw a party, and your living space gets damaged, you could potentially face some huge fees. The same goes if someone at that party gets hurt. Renters insurance policies often include liability coverage that will protect you against costs you can be faced with if your property gets damaged or if someone gets injured on your property, just double check with an agent to find a plan with adequate liability coverage.

5.  You can share the wealth.
If renters insurance is starting to sound good, you might be thinking that your roommates would be interested in it too. Conveniently, many renters insurance plans offer shared coverage for people living together. So if you have roommates or friends sharing an apartment with you, sometimes everyone listed on the lease can have protection and coverage together under one policy. Be sure to check with your renters insurance agent to see if this is an option for you!

Knowing how valuable renters insurance can be, you might be surprised to find that it can also be pretty affordable. In fact, based on a national average, premiums are typically just $160 a year. Compare that number with how much you could save if you need to file a claim on your belongings. To prepare, you can help the process of filing claims go smoothly by always keeping track of your valuables, and by saving receipts.

For a quick overview of the value of renters insurance for college students, check out this video from GradGuard.

And for additional information about renters and other kinds of insurance, visit our website!

Other Transition

Things That Cost More Than Renters Insurance

October 4, 2018

Chances are you’re bringing quite a few things along to college with you this year. Some of those things, such as your bike, laptop, and X-Box are big-ticket, expensive items that you need to make it through the semester as a sane human being. So, what would happen if those items were stolen or damaged? You’d be out a lot of cash just trying to replace them.

On a college student budget, replacing a laptop could be disastrous. In addition to being diligent about your stuff, students should also consider protecting their stuff with GradGuard Renter’s Insurance!

Renters insurance provides valuable financial protection for your stuff and personal liability. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average annual cost of a renters insurance policy is $184; that is less than $16 per month! That doesn’t seem out of reach even on a student budget. Actually, $16 per month is just 53 cents a day!

There are some things you spend more on in college like…

  • Coffee (just a plain black drip coffee costs more if you are getting one every day)
  • Going to the movies with your friends. Even if you just see 1-2 movies a month it will cost more than renters insurance.
  • Newspaper
  • Dorm laundry facility
  • Bus or subway rides
  • Your cell phone
  • A pack of gum/mints
  • A bottle of water
  • Late night pizza
  • Late night Jimmy John’s
  • Making copies at the library (they can get expensive!)
  • Gas for your car (if you are commuting or want to go home every weekend)

Some of these things might not apply to you, but when you think of the things that can happen in college where something of yours might need to be replaced due to covered damage or theft, having renters insurance is definitely worth the price! Make the smart buy and get protection with the only renters insurance that contains an exclusive college student endorsement – with unique features and coverage designed for college life- from GradGuard.

Adulting Other

Living Off-Campus: 5 Solutions to Daily Struggles

October 1, 2018
Living Off-Campus: 5 Solutions to Daily Struggles

What’s the most exciting thing about going to college? Yes; it’s about learning, friendships, and parties. But most of all, it’s about independence. If this is your first time living away from your family, it will be an entirely new experience. Your responsibility will be put to the test.

So let’s talk about living on campus, shall we? It’s not always the most attractive option you have. Sure; it’s usually more affordable than an apartment, but it doesn’t always give you the level of independence you’re looking for. There are too many people, too many roommates, and too much noise all the time.

If you want to be truly independent, you’re probably considering living off-campus. That’s a great decision, but it’s also a bit challenging. You’ll face daily struggles related to finances, commuting, and adulting.

You’ll Have to Learn How to Manage Your Finances

When you’re off campus, your expenses are not put together in a single big payment. The fixed expense is limited to the rent. You have control over everything else. You can control the electricity you spend, the money you spend on groceries, the internet service provider, and everything else.

You have to know where your money is going all the time. A budget management app on your phone will help a lot! It will keep track of the expenses, letting you know exactly how much money you have at your disposal.

Remember to Manage Your Time

When you’re in your comfy bed and you think about a 30-minute commute in -15 degree weather, the idea of skipping class will come naturally. Resist that temptation! You have a schedule and you have to keep on track with it. Otherwise, you’ll start procrastinating and you’ll eventually delay your own graduation.

Sarah Cooper, a contributor of A-Writer, explains that time management is the biggest issue for students living independently: “When you’re in full control over the way you live, you’ll naturally strive for comfort. That leads to skipping classes, delaying the work on an important project, and wasting time in every other way possible. These students have to learn how to use their calendar. I’m serious!”

Your Roommate is the Closest Friend You’ve Got

Having a roommate is great! Not only because you’ll split the expenses, but also because you’ll always have a friend to count on. However, when two young people are in a room together, you can’t expect rainbows, unicorns, and happiness all the time. There will be dirty clothes on the floor, there will be noise when you want to rest, and other struggles you’ll have to learn how to deal with.

Honesty is the best way to ensure a successful friendship. When you’re bothered with something your roommate does, tell them in the nicest way possible. “Could you pick up the clothes from the floor? I can help if you need me to!” That’s a nice way to resolve a conflict, don’t you think?

You’ll Need to Learn How to Cook; It’s Fun!

When you live in an apartment, you’re responsible for your own food. You can eat whatever you want, as long as you learn how to cook. Start watching YouTube videos of chefs preparing easy meals and be sure to practice; you’ll get into cooking in no time.

Why is it important to learn how to cook? – Because grocery shopping is way more affordable than eating out. Plus, the food you cook yourself will be healthier.

How about Getting Your Own Wheels?

Commuting is the main struggle for students who choose to live away from campus. To say that public transport is not enjoyable is an understatement.

  • How about getting an old car? It will not only get you wherever you want to go, but it will also be the place where you keep all your books, snacks, and backup clothes while you attend classes.
  • If the car’s maintenance is too expensive for you, how about a scooter?
  • If your place is not too far from campus and the road is safe for bikes, that’s a huge bonus. A bike is the most affordable option you have and it helps keep you fit.

Yes, there will be challenges, but don’t let them discourage you. You’ll have a great experience living off-campus; you just have to learn how to manage your time and finances, find an easy way to commute to campus, learn how to cook, and become friends with your roommate. You can do that, right? 

And don’t forget that living off-campus means that renters insurance is a must and GradGuard has your back! Remember to visit our website for all of your insurance needs.                                                                                                                                                                            

Audrey Pilcher is a passionate blogger and freelance writer at  college-paper.org. Being engaged in numerous international internships during studies, she gained invaluable experience. Since then Audrey was willing to share it with others.  Therefore she became an article writer on studying, self-growth issues.

Other Safety

10 Crucial Campus Safety Tips

September 24, 2018

The yearly return to college each fall is an exciting and significant time for students, but it isn’t entirely without risks. This year, as classes beckon you back to campus, consider what you can do to ensure your own safety as well as that of others. September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month! Here’s a quick list to help you promote safety throughout your time at school.

Walk With Purpose

It’s no secret that anyone who appears to be new in town or otherwise unsure of themselves makes an easy target. Don’t be one of those people! Wherever you go, whether on campus or around town, be sure to walk with confidence and a purpose. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, and don’t be afraid to excuse yourself from any situation that makes you feel uncomfortable. Go with your gut: when it comes to your personal safety, you are your own greatest ally.

 

Be the Leader of the Pack

It’s an immutable law of nature: there’s safety in numbers. Traveling with friends is one of the best ways to keep yourself protected, particularly if you’re a young woman who may be at greater risk. This is of critical importance when attending social events or traveling in unlit areas. Whether on or off campus, attend events as part of a group and make a pact to look out for one another. Most importantly, never leave someone alone in a vulnerable or uncomfortable situation. If necessary, leave as a group and make other plans instead.

Be Social Media Savvy

Today our digital personas are just as real as our offline lives, and what happens on the Internet doesn’t necessarily stay there. So in the interest of safety, it’s best to keep the personal details to a minimum. First and foremost, be sure to disable location services so that no one can track your whereabouts as you post. Next, think twice before making any posts that include “sensitive” information. Over 80 percent of Internet-initiated crimes – crimes in which the criminal first identifies or tracks a target online – begin through social media, making your profiles excellent resources for any would-be criminals to find your location, daily routines and nearly anything else they might want to know.

“I’ll Be Back”

Whenever you venture out and about, make sure that someone knows where you’re going and when you expect to be back. It only takes a few moments to text friends or family members and inform them of your plans, and if something should ever go wrong, you’ll be glad that you did. If you don’t show up when and where you’re expected, having someone who can check in on you can make all the difference.

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Other Transition

Packing the Car For College

September 11, 2018

Whether you are driving to a local school or making a cross-country trek, you will need to be prepared for your journey.

The excitement of finally packing up your favorite belongings and new coordinated bedding, shower caddy, etc. for the trip to school comes with the stress of not wanting to forget anything.

If you’re driving, here are a few tips to add to your checklist:

  • Make sure you have your navigation necessities covered. Depending on the length of the drive, map out some interesting places to stop and sightsee to break it up and enjoy the last of your vacation. Don’t be afraid to try some hole in the wall restaurants instead of chowing down on fast food for every meal. Use apps like Waze to your advantage to avoid lengthy traffic jams and maybe even try the scenic route if you have the chance. National and State Parks/Monuments always make for a nice stop to stretch your legs on a trail or learn about your new region at the visitor center.
  • Be sure to book hotel rooms prior to the trip. You don’t want to have to drive an extra 50 miles to get to the next hotel with vacancy.
  • Double check that you packed that aux cord if you do not have Bluetooth. Music, podcasts, and audiobooks help to pass the time. Remember to have those car chargers handy and playlists loaded.
  • It’s recommended to have your car checked before you leave. Get some roadside service (AAA). Even if your trip is short, it’s good to have essential items handy (jumper cables, flashlight, first aid kit, and snacks). You might just make a friend on move-in day who needs some help!
  • Don’t pack too much, you need to be able to see out the back. You definitely want to make sure you and your stuff arrive safely. Utilize all of the small compartments in the car. Trunks of newer cars have small secret cubbies for extra small items like those awkward closet hangers. If needed, add a roof rack instead of overstuffing and vacuum bags can be extremely useful if the car is small. Put the heavier boxes and items on the ground in the middle of the car to reduce unsafe sagging in the back, but beware not to weigh your car down TOO much; you don’t want your car handling or fuel economy to suffer.
  • Also, touch base with roommates before packing large items or planning a shopping trip. You probably don’t need two microwaves or area rugs. You don’t have to make all of your dorm room decoration purchases before you drive. You can always buy more stuff later, so if anything, make sure you aren’t over-packing when it comes to dorm decor. A friendly reminder that you have to clean it all out at the end of the year.
  • Take some time to think about what you will realistically use in the first few months, you can always buy more underwear or have your parents/guardians send you supplies. Evaluate items like bulky sweaters. Can you wait until you go home for winter break to bring them back to school with you?
  • Make sure your personal belongings are covered with your GradGuard College Renters Insurance plan. 

 

Adulting Other

5 Items You Need For Your College Apartment

August 10, 2018

Congratulations, you survived the dorms! You’ll be surprised when you realize how attached you have become to the convenience of the dining hall, and the fact that your dorm was probably a quick walk away from all your classes. Sadly, all that is over and you’re going to need to cook now. And if you can’t figure out the best way to survive your lengthed commute to class, check out our comparison blog here. Now there are hundreds of articles on the web about all the junk that you can buy and use twice if you’re lucky. This post is designed to give you 5 items you will use on a weekly, if not daily basis.

Coffee Maker: Temptations are everywhere. Coffee shops surround your campus like moths to light. Everywhere you look, $7 cups of Joe are being sold, and if you don’t show restraint, you are going to blow your monthly food budget on one week of coffee. You can purchase a coffee maker off Amazon for fairly cheap, and the single cup coffee makers are a godsend for people who only drink one cup. Pro Tip: Keurig may have made this industry what it is, but you don’t have to pay their prices for the similar quality. Check out your local Target or home goods store for something off-brand, but still functional.

Basic Pots and Pans: You don’t need to go out and buy the $350 Gordon Ramsay collection, but you are going to need a few items. You may not know how to cook now, but over the course of the year, you will pick up at least a few recipes that you can make. Fry pan, saucepan, and baking sheet are the bare minimum. Pro Tip: Crock Pots can be extremely useful if you are committed to meal prep. Simply put the ingredients in, turn it on, and go to class. Come back, and you have dinner.

Vacuum Cleaner: At some point, you are going to have to clean up those crumbs from last week’s Hot Pocket. A vacuum may not be a fun purchase, but man, you will regret not buying one. A mop is a good idea too, but the vacuum is a necessity. Pro Tip: You don’t need to buy your parent’s PetMaster 3000, a small, lightweight model will do you just fine for your messy habits.

Basic Tools: For some of you this could be very foreign. “I will just call maintenance,” you say. Believe or not, they have better things to do than unscrew the shelf in your fridge so you can move it down a rung. Screwdriver (Phillips and Flathead), pliers, and a tape measure are all essentials for any living space. Pro Tip: You can find beginner kits all over the internet.

Dishes: Last, and most importantly, is basic dishware and cutlery. A few plates, bowls, and silverware will be in use at all times, so it is important you have some available. No matter how little you cook, at some point, you will need a spoon or a plate, and you can find sets of varying size and quality very easily. If you plan on doing any cooking whatsoever you will need a minimum 1 chefs knife and 1-2 steak knives. Pro Tip: A pair of kitchen scissors is very convenient, and chip clips are life savers.  

To wrap it up, there are a lot of things out there that will become a staple in your life, it will be different for everybody. But before you sink all your budget into money-grab products you saw on TV, consider how much you will actually use it. And don’t forget to cover your newly acquired items with the proper renter’s insurance through GradGuard! Would hate for all of those items to go to waste if you fill your apartment with smoke when you start to make your first Rachel Ray recipe. Get a free quote on our website today!