Tag Archives: Evanston

Grocery Shopping On A Budget

Everybody knows that eating out and ordering in is a quick way to blow your food budget for the month but grocery shopping can feel expensive too. In order to make sure you save the most, you need to plan ahead.

Making a List not only helps you remember what you plan to buy, it also helps you narrow your purchases to the things you need. A list can also be a way of tracking deals and coupons.

Don’t Shop Hungry. Make sure you eat a snack before you go grocery shopping because everything looks delicious and cheap compared to an empty stomach.

Couponing isn’t just for soccer moms. When done the right way, you can save tons of money by getting a few cents off here and there on essentials. Just make sure you read the fine print, sometimes a buy one get one deal is really a 50% off deal trying to get you to buy double.

Check Unit Prices before deciding which brand or size to buy. Sometimes a larger size container is still the same price as the smaller per unit.

Store Brand foods are often just as good as a popular brand’s product but much cheaper. Only special foods differ much in taste by brand.

Don’t Buy Prepared Foods. A couple extra minutes washing and cutting up your produce isn’t that bad. You pay significantly more for the convenience of a ready-to-eat vegetable.

Prepare Your Meals On Weekends. Getting all your meals ready at the beginning of the week saves you time when you’re tired from school or work. It also prevents the lazy food ordering because you don’t feel you have the energy to make a whole meal.

Buying Produce in Season means you can still eat the things that are good for you and fresh without breaking the bank.

Buy Frozen when a food you want isn’t in season. It doesn’t really lose nutritional value and is cheaper than buying a food out of season when the shipping costs sky rocket.

Buy Deli Meat. Packaged meats are generally more expensive than going over to the deli counter and having them slice off the amount you want. That means you also get the right amount too, without more packaging, that you pay for.

Watch the Register as you check out. Sometimes sales advertised in the store haven’t made it into the programming of the register yet and things don’t always scan properly. If you watch the register and check your receipt, you can avoid accidents that cost you money.

Renter’s Insurance: Why should you consider it?

Why Renter’s Insurance Is A Good Idea

You may not have thought about getting renter’s insurance in your search for an apartment but it is a very good thing to consider. Your landlord’s insurance will not cover your belongings, it only covers damage to their property and the appliances that are rented to you with the apartment. Many things could go wrong that would leave you without your things such as a fire, storm, or even theft. Thinking that you don’t need the insurance because these things probably won’t happen to you isn’t the mindset you should have either, considering renter’s insurance is actually pretty cheap for what you would get out of it should the need arise.

Payments

With renter’s insurance, there are options on how you pay for it. You can pay month to month or you can choose to pay all at once, once a year. If you choose to pay all at once, there is often a discount on the overall cost but sometimes it’s easier on the bank account to pay month to month even though you end up paying more in the end.

Being Ready

So now that you’re looking into insurance, you should know how to be prepared in the event that you end up needing to use it. A good plan of attack is to have all of the numbers that you would need to call in one place along with a list of information that they are going to ask for.

Inventory

One of the main things that they are going to want you to have is an inventory of your belongings and their actual worth. You may not think that you own that much capital in your belongings but the average person owns about $20,000 in belongings. Your table may be a thrift shop find but you’ve still got your computer, textbooks, clothes, etc. to consider. After you’ve got a list put together of your belongings, make sure you keep it safe. A hard copy kept in the freezer (in a plastic bag) should keep it safe in the event of a fire or your computer being stolen.

Understand Your Policy

Your renter’s insurance covers more than just your belongings. Depending on your policy, it would most likely also cover liability if somebody is injured and there are medical expenses in your rental property and it should also cover living expenses if you are displaced from your rental for reasons such as repairs.

Types Of Coverage

There are many types of rental insurance coverage. The thing to consider is whether you want to get ACV (Actual Cash Value) or RV (Replacement Value) insurance. ACV takes into account the depreciation of your belongings on a payout where RV estimates a payout based on what it’ll cost you to replace the belongs. An RV policy will have a higher premium but the policy would make it easier to replace your things should anything happen to them.

5 Decorating Ideas

Apartments can be tough to decorate without over or under doing it. They have a lot of empty wall space but filling all of the walls in a small space can make it feel like they’re closing in on you.

1. Lighting your space properly will open up the dark corners so the amount of area you actually have is visible. Most apartments don’t have too many windows and they may be facing another building or just don’t let light in very well. A dark apartment will always feel more like a cave than a home, so add some lamps to liven up your living space.

2. Slim Furniture provides all of the benefits as it’s bulkier relatives but takes up less space, both physically and visually. Finding the right pieces might be difficult but once you do, you will have furniture just as comfortable as any other and looking much nicer in your apartment.

3. Rugs provide an alternative to the flooring your apartment came with and can be used to both individualize your space and you can use them to separate a room into it’s different functions. This is especially nice for a studio apartment but can also be used in an apartment with bedrooms to divide your living area from your work area.

4. Wall Hangings can either be bought or made by you. They give life to your walls and break up the large expanse of emptiness. The important thing to be careful of is making holes in your walls because your landlord will take the repair costs out of your security deposit.

5. Mirrors are excellent at opening up a space. The reflective surface not only makes it seem like there is more space in the room but it also reflects more light into the area. Mirrors also don’t look like they weigh a whole lot unless the frame is overly large so they won’t look chunky as a decoration.

5 Ways to Maximize Storage Space

Finding space in your apartment to store miscellaneous belongings can be tough when an apartment only comes with one or two closets. There are ways of creating your own storage though that don’t mean your apartment looks messy.

1. Under The Bed is a good place to put a few flat or small objects. Just letting it stay empty is a waste of space in a place where space is in short supply. Keeping things you use more often toward the front will help you find them easier and keep you from making a mess digging through all of the things under there. If you are concerned that people can see your storage space, invest in a skirt for your bed.

2. Behind Corner Furniture is a little niche you can use to your benefit. A chair angled right can make a space suitable for any number of items to be carefully tucked away. This would be a really good place for your cleaning supplies. It would give you easy access and nobody is going to think you’re messy for leaving cleaning supplies a little bit visible.

3. Open Storage makes finding things much easier and when it’s used in the right places, doesn’t look bad. The bathroom is a good place to utilize open storage, especially since most apartment bathrooms are really small and lack space to keep all of your necessaries. Kitchens or an adjacent dining space is another ideal place to use open storage for your cooking supplies.

4. Bookshelves don’t have to be just for books. Arrange some of your more decorative belongings out in the open as a display. It can be a good way to show visitors a bit more about you and start a conversation or give them something to look at while you grab an item quick.

5. Multipurpose Hampers are a good place to throw a backpack at the end of the day or your sweatshirt instead of on the furniture and as a bonus, closing the lid makes the hamper into an inconspicuous storage space. If you have a pet, all of their toys can just go into a hamper since they don’t really require organization. Hampers don’t have to be just for dirty clothes.

5 Tips for Keeping Organized

Of course it would be great to have a nice, big house to live in, but as college students, we generally live in a nice, small apartment. To make the most of your limited space is no easy task, so here are some tips to making sure you are keeping organized in your small space because staying organized is a sure way to keep clutter out of your living space.

1. Make a chore list. It may feel strange as an adult to have a chore list, but it is an effective way to make sure you are getting everything done. There is always more to do than you think and keeping track of all of that is just easier if you have a list to look at.

2. Make a playlist. When you are trying to tidy up, it is easy to get distracted by something else around you. Blocking out other noises and also giving yourself a rhythm to work to will keep you efficient, reducing the amount of time it takes out of your day to make your apartments less cluttered.

3. Use one calendar. If you have a calendar of events that contains all of your obligations in one place, it makes planning your time that much simpler. Knowing when you have time allows you to plan ahead so you aren’t rushing around and throwing things down instead of putting them where they belong.

4. Give everything a place. When all of your belongings have a place to be, they aren’t out and about around your apartment. Not only does this de-clutter your living space, it also makes it easier for you to find things later when you need them, especially if you are in a hurry.

5. Get rid of things you don’t use. If you haven’t used it in a year and it holds no sentimental value, why do you still have it? Things that you don’t use are just taking up space in a place that is already limited in that respect. If the issue is that it still holds some value and you are unwilling to give that up, sell it or donate it. This way, you aren’t just throwing it out.

7 College Budgeting Tips

College is already a stressful enough time without having to sweat about every little expense. There are a few easy ways to feel more comfortable about where your budget is at.

Tip 1: Be Honest With Yourself

Sometimes the hardest part about figuring out your budget is telling yourself the honest truth. Maybe you have the tendency to splurge on something that you probably shouldn’t. Calculate that in because you can tell yourself that you aren’t gonna go for it next time but you can never be certain. It’s best to just know how your budget looks with that expense. If you’re feeling really ambitious, calculate your budget both ways.

Tip 2: Round Your Income Down and Your Expenses Up

This is a really simple way to make sure you have enough money to go around. Rounding your income down gives you a little extra money for just in case that you are for sure not counting on to get you through to the next paycheck. Rounding your expenses up means that you are not only overestimating your expenditure but it also leaves room for if you spend a bit more than you planned. Also you get a little bonus pocket money for a rainy day.

 

Tip 3: Know the Difference Between “Needs” and “Wants”

Sometimes you have to cut back on your spending and you should make sure you’re not cutting out the wrong thing. The simplest example would be in your food expenses. Food is  a need of course but eating at a restaurant or ordering in quickly racks up the expenditure. Making your own meals is dramatically cheaper than buying meals and is also a useful skill to acquire.

Tip 4: Give Yourself Some Wiggle Room

When you’re figuring out your budget, try not to cut it close. If you do end up tight at the end, that can be just as stressful or more stressful than not even knowing where your finances are at.

Tip 5: Add a “Savings” Category to Your Expenses

Setting aside funds every budget cycle sets you up with a nice emergency fund or a start to a large purchase. You don’t have to set aside a ridiculous amount of your income each time because the little amounts you do pull out build into a comfy collection.

Tip 6: Pay With Cash For the Little Things

Using cash to pay for things makes you think more about the money you are spending. When you swipe a card, magically things are payed for and you may not realize how much you are actually spending. Having the physical exchange gives you a better perspective.

 

Tip 7: Revisit and Review Your Budget

This is probably the most important part about making a budget. A budget needs to be kept up to date. Your situation is going to fluctuate and you’ll need to be sure your budget holds strong for the ride. That means it needs to be flexible and up to date.

Finding Your First Apartment: Evanston

Finding your first apartment is a nerve-racking experience. Whether you are just starting off college or simply moving to a new city, each area has its own unique tricks to finding your perfect place. While there are many options to choose from, there are important details to consider that help narrow down the decision pool. Among these are price, area, utilities included, and also nearby amenities.

Finances: What can you expect to afford in Evanston?

One of the most important things to consider when you are looking for an apartment in Evanston is your price range. Before you begin, you should sit down and figure out how much you can afford to spend every month and then don’t forget to leave an amount to pay your initial security deposit. Costs to take into account are rent, groceries, utilities not included in your rental agreement, and extracurriculars since Evanston is just north of Chicago and offers its own entertainments as well.

Rent is one of the biggest costs of living to consider and it fluctuates depending on what type of apartment you are looking at (studio, 1 bedroom, duplex, etc.), area, and amenities included in your rental agreement. Evanston apartments can generally cost between $700 and $1000 a person per month. Proximity to NU can also affect the price of your apartment. (Many apartment leases do not include electricity and some also exclude internet or charge extra on top of rent.)

Area: Where should you live?

Evanston is a decently sized town and as such, there are a few areas to choose from when deciding where to live. Most neighborhoods are near the university but a couple are a bit far. Areas near the campus include; Downtown, Central Street, Dempster Street, Main Street, and Chicago Avenue. Each area has a different appeal and you should always research the area you are looking at before signing a lease.

Looking: What to look out for.

While you are searching for your apartment in Evanston, be sure to keep an eye out for things included in the rental cost and things that are not. The biggest costs to look for are heat, cooking gas, electric, internet, and if the facility has on-site laundry. Before you sign a lease, read it over carefully because some landlords will try to slip in a clause that you do not need to sign on with. If you are questioning anything in the lease you can search for the Tenants’ Rights Handbook.