How Not to Move Back in With Your Parents

Affording Your Social Life Podcast Episodes

Social Cost of College
Social Cost of College Tip

Listen to the Podcast

Listen to this week's episode where Pete and Alex are joined by Sydney to talk about the financial costs of being social in college.

Read the Show Notes

Let’s face it, you’re undeniably the coolest person at Indiana University and, possibly, the world. You’re incredibly good-looking, smart, charming, and the envy of every person that comes into contact with you. All of us at IU were holding our breaths when you were making your college decision, hoping that you’d pick us (and, truthfully, we’re very glad that you did).

And while we’re very happy that you are who you are and that you’re here, we’d prefer you be aware that if you’re not careful, your being awesome will end up costing you money.

And even if you’re not the coolest person in the world (like me). And even if you’re marginally attractive (like me), can barely form sense-making sentence (me like), flat-out awkward (guilty), and most people look at you and just feel sorry (I think that’s how I got my first girlfriend in high school), there’s somebody out there that just finds you flat-out awesome and wants to be around you for some unexplained reason. And much like your unbelievably awesome counterpart, we’re very glad that you chose to come to IU.

And, again, while we’re very happy that you are who you are and that you’re here, we’d prefer you be aware that if you’re not careful, your being awesome will end up costing you money.

The point to all of this is that regardless of who you are, there are going to be countless times where the people you hang around with are going to want to do something that costs money. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, there’s also nothing wrong with you being honest with them and saying:

“You know (friend’s name)…I’ve maximized the level of currency of which I can disburse to establishments for this current period.  Perhaps we could develop an alternate, non-coinage-involving scenario for us to pursue for this evening’s amusement?”[1]


And while some of you are thinking that this sounds like the worst pick-up line ever, the point is that, as a college student, you are operating under a limited, and possibly no, income, and that you shouldn’t feel pressured to say yes to doing something with your friends every time they want to go out and spend money.

Renting Within Your Budget is Awesome

This can be especially tricky when you and your friend(s) decide to move into a place together and your income levels are different.

For the most part, the default is to elect the more expensive place due to its location/amenities/view/etc., but that puts you in a really tough spot, financially and socially, if your friend wants the $1200/month apartment ($600 each), but you can only afford one that costs $800/month ($400 each).

Now, I could go the parental route on you and say “Anybody that only wants to live with you in a nice place that you can’t afford isn’t your friend at all,” but I’d rather just show you how much you could save in a school year:

Assuming you spend $200 less per month over the course of a school year (9 months), you would save $1800…and say you do this your sophomore, junior, and senior year, you would save $5400 over the course of those 3 years.

I would hope that your friends are willing to sacrifice a bit in order to save you (and them) $1800/year. And as we talk about in our blog post on tempering expectations, if you become used to less, then you won’t need as many things, meaning you’ll be saving all sorts of money down the road.

Saving Money is Even More Awesome

The goal with all of this is to not eliminate your fun in college (that’s what classes are for…am I right?), but to have you challenge yourself to save as much money as you can while you’re in college. How do you do that?

Well, first you develop a spending plan to determine what you can afford, and then you budget a little more to see if there’s somewhere you can save money. My challenge to you: see if you can save 25% of your original budget.

If you can afford a $600/month apartment, see if you can find one that you’d be happy to have for $450/month. Spend $100/month on going out to eat, see if you can bring that down to $75. I can assure you that you’ll be happy with all the money that you’re saving.

I can also assure you that you’ll still be just as cool as you’ve always been.

Just as cool…but slightly more frugal.

[1] Special thanks to the Microsoft Word “Thesaurus” for its help in developing the statement.