First lesson in housing money management: Moving out of dorms
Why parents should prioritize financial planning before their kids head to college
After my first, junior-year roommate moved out, I thought I had the dorm room to myself. That lady was constantly turning the air conditioning up to the coldest temperature and then burying herself under comforters. She farted aloud during conversations, and would “borrow” my CDs and DVDs. We were constantly butting heads over pretty much everything. I was over this lady*. As furious as I was at that one racist incident with a former college roommate/friend and the other roommate who snuck kittens and guinea pigs in our suite, I would’ve much preferred to live with those two.
I had the dorm room all to myself for over a month before the resident advisor told me a new roommate was arriving days later. I’d seen her on campus before, but we didn’t talk much. Before she even unpacked her suitcases, she hung a clothesline from one end of the room to another. Then, she spread a bed sheet for “privacy,” and I spent a couple of weeks looking over at this dark-colored fabric instead of a human being. This was never going to work.
About two weeks later, I couldn’t have been happier to sign the paperwork for an off-campus apartment. When my final college roommate returned from class and saw half of the room was packed up in a collection of suitcases and bags, she actually asked me to stay because she’d be “lonely.” After giving her the craziest “get real” look, three friends showed up and grumpily complained that they’d help me move. (People who help you move are required to be mean — in the beginning at least.)
We hopped into my car to drop all of my bags at my new, one-bedroom home. Within an hour, they were done and had class in the morning. I dropped them off back at the dorms, returned to a startlingly quiet apartment with no girls talking loudly in the hallway and briefly thought about that one roommate’s remark about being “lonely.”
I sat down on the freshly vacuumed carpet and had a bigger concern: Was I going to be financially disciplined enough to only spend my financial aid refund for room and board on this apartment? And how much more would I need to pay costs like my heating bill, my electricity bill and rental furniture?
My parents had already given me the OK to move out of the dorms and told me the refund was all mine. If I screwed up and blew through the money for rent, that was my problem, not theirs. And their indifferent attitude toward housing (eight hours from my childhood home) was the second lesson I learned in money management.