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Budgeting: Managing Finances Living Off Campus

Tips for Skillful Money Management

  • Leave debit and credit cards home and carry a few dollars with you. 
  • Know the difference between wants and needs and avoid the temptation from distractions like online shopping. 
  • If you have a credit card, choose one with a low annual fee, low interest rate and long grace period. 
  • Use a credit card only for convenience, not credit and pay your bill in full each month. 
  •  Avoid extra fees from ATM withdrawals. Set aside money for unexpected expenses.

How to manage your budget

Paying rent is not your only expense when living off campus. Setting a personal budget will help you track your money and with spending decisions. It is also good to know how much you can afford on rent when you know your income and expenses. 

Whether you are thinking about moving off campus or have already made that decision, this information is designed to help you plan and manage the assosicated costs.


When shopping for an apartment, be sure to ask what utilities are included. The more that is included, the more expensive the rent will be, but you also won’t have to worry about additional bills. In general, the closer to campus the apartment is, the more expensive the rent. The larger the unit, the more expensive the rent. Furnished apartments are more expensive then unfurnished units. The more utilities included, the higher the rent.

Splitting Bills

When you move into an apartment you will have many separate bills. Each bill will be in just one person’s name. If you have roommates, split the bills among everyone. This way not just one person is responsible for all the bills. Communicate with your roommates about when bills are due and what is owed.

Credit Cards

Resist the urge to use credit cards to pay for living expenses. They usually have high interest rates that will have you paying for your purchase well into the future.


You may drive more when you live off campus. Consider whether you need to pay for parking if no space is included with your apartment or if off-street parking is available

Winter Heating

If heat is not included in your rent, ask your landlord for an estimate of expected heating costs. The landlord must provide this information upon written request. This is a good way to have an idea of your bill.

Cleaning Supplies

When you move off campus, you are responsible for keeping the area clean. Be sure to have the appropriate cleaning supplies and equipment, such as a vacuum cleaner or mop. You may also want small rugs to protect the floor from snow.


An advantage to off campus living is that your apartment may allow you to have a pet. Although this may seem fun, you should consider the costs and responsibilities. Food and veterinarian bills are a few costly things to think about. 

Food & Groceries

It is important to budget enough money to maintain a healthy diet. Save money by buying in bulk and by using coupons. Store brands are usually a better bargain then national brands with the same quality. Another way is to purchase a low meal plan to eat some meals on campus.