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Prepping for College 101

Covering the Basics

When I was first leaving the nest and going off to live on my own, I was both nervous and excited. You get to branch out, take some responsibility for yourself, and learn plenty of new things. I moved out of my mother's house in my last year of high school to take care of my grandmother and decided to take a year off of going to college to spend more time with her and gain work experience. Even then I was starting to learn new things to better equip myself for when I would one day move out on my own, such as handling bills, personal expenses, and so on. So here are some tips that I found useful when I was first leaving to live on my own. Here are some tips that can help make it a little easier for you, and these are in no specific order but should help you on your way.

Figure out your living expenses.

It's always great to know how much you spend month to month to keep track of your money, and when I mean living expenses I am talking like the basic living expenses. It could be rent, groceries, phone bills or any bill that would need to be paid for every month to make it easier to live. So if you have a vehicle or need a bus pass, make sure to include that in the total. I roughly set aside $150 for groceries each month to stock up on food for the entire month. I may not spend all of it but it's good to know when to stop to make sure you don't go over. If you have pets then make sure to figure out their expenses as well and include them in the total it would be for the month with everything else.

Figure out additional expenses.

If you’re like me and have additional bills that are more of an "extra" item then it's good to also calculate that up. I have a Spotify premium account and it's helped to make sure to set reminders on my phone for when it's going to be charged to make sure it’s paid and not bounced back. When you calculate all of the extra expenses like any memberships or even just extra money for nights out, it can also help you see what you really spend on. These items are not really needed for your survival through the months so it should be kept separate from the bare minimum to make it through. If you have a job and can hold it around your school schedule then great! Holding a job around school can be very challenging depending on which program you are doing, but if you really want to see how much you spend in a month then go ahead and add the two but make sure to keep the minimum in mind and make sure that it's covered before going on to the extras.

Sorting the Furniture

So when I first moved out, I had like two things that were really mine, a bed and a dresser. Not too bad of a startup but since I was moving into an unfurnished apartment it was needed to go shopping. Luckily I was gifted a couch and an armchair, but if you cannot get an extra one then try and look online. There are many websites that can provide second-hand furniture. They don’t need to be fancy, but as long as they are still in good condition and are comfortable I see that as a win. So when you’re looking for furniture, start with what's really important and work your way down to the miscellaneous. For smaller apartments, it's easier to work your way through the list since you mostly need to focus on sitting arrangements first and then onwards.

Focusing on the Kitchen

Now that you’ve worked your way throughout the rooms of your apartment we cannot forget about the kitchen. If you are blessed to have a microwave for when you move out, then make sure to not take it for granted or heavily rely on it. I had a new roommate move it and all of his shopping was based on the microwave that we didn’t have. He was definitely distressed when he realized his mistake and bought one the next month. So if you don’t have a lot of cooking skills you can get one if you like, but if you love to cook then try to get a cast iron skillet. They are amazing, they last a long time, and can cook your food evenly. Most cast iron skillets cost a lot if you purchase brand new, but if you go to a Goodwill or any second-hand store they usually have a few. If they have rust or dust on them, don’t worry; it can be easily fixed. There are many videos and instructions to seasoning your skillet so that it’s in top form when you want to cook.

The same goes for when you start to look into other cookware. There are usually a lot of pots and pans in second-hand stores. I would say to at least get a pan, saucepan, and a pot as starters for you. If you want to purchase brand new that's perfectly fine; there are a lot of good brands out there that also provide sets in various sizes. Now that the cookware has been sorted you of course cannot forget about the dishes. If you are not a fan of washing dishes there are always paper plates that can be used; just do not use the styrofoam ones! Not only are they bad for the planet but they melt easily, so microwaves or really hot dishes would ruin the plate and possibly get the styrofoam in your food. There are usually dollar stores in almost every city or town, and they offer any kind of dishes you may need. They have plenty of cups, plates, and bowls to stock up your cupboards for dishes without having to spend a lot on a set that can be found in retail stores.

Don’t forget the first aid kit!

So some might overlook this step or kind of brush it into the back of their head but it's best to start preparing one in the very beginning instead of waiting until an accident does happen to worry about it. I tend to worry about everything, so I had a pretty big med kit and even had an emergency pack started in my SUV when it was still running. To start simple you, of course, need to get band-aids. The more sizes you have the better. In my current med kit, I have bandages of various sizes, rolls of gauze, antiseptic spray, polysporin, cold medicine, pain medicine, tension bandages, and medical tape. It may sound a lot but it really isn’t. There are so many ways that a person can get hurt and sometimes it's better to be over prepared than under prepared. Remember the roommate that only bought microwavable food? Well he and the other roommate that moved in forgot about a first aid kit when they moved off on their own. The first roommate was being a little foolish and trying to cut something with one of his knives before it ended up slicing his finger open. In their panic, they of course realized that they were not prepared for this kind of thing at all. Luckily they figured that I would have one since they know I can be a little paranoid, and they were right. The wound was quickly cleaned and bandaged without having to take a trip across the city to a hospital to close the wound. So just remember to get one in the future if you can. There are pre-made med kits in retail stores if you do not want to assemble it yourself. 

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