Dear Kid,

Novi Sad is the second largest city in Serbia. It is a happy, convivial place (I know this because My Friend The Internet told me so), and if you go to Servia you should definitely add Novi Sad to your list of Places to Go, Things to See.

Today’s blog is a guest post from Kate Flannery, an Australian (with—I’m assuming—a fabulous accent) living in Novi Sad. Seeing as she was once a college student and is now a writer, she is as expertly positioned as one can possibly be to contribute to DearKidLoveMom. She also included Helpful Links which is more than you can sometimes say about what I write.

Say hello politely, please.


Tips for staying on budget when you live off campus. DearKidLoveMom.comStudying is supposed to be the most exciting part of your life. It is a period when young people leave their homes, most of them for the first time, to start living on their own. The question is how to organize your life once you have flown from the family nest and, above all, how to stay within your budget – both on campus and off campus.


Strict Budget Rules

The hardest thing for freshmen living on their own for the first time is to stick to their own budget rules. When you live with your parents, you do have some limitations, but they are usually imposed and managed by your parents. Even if you exceed your budget and splurge your pocket money on video games, you will always have food to eat in your family home. However, students who do not learn how to strictly stick to their budget rules will soon have to start borrowing money; been there, done that. It took me three months to get back on the track of normal living and studying, because I had to borrow money during my first year, and paying back is hard when you don’t even have a regular income, and can barely support yourself. The rule of thumb is that you set your monthly budget and never spend a cent more. Perhaps this worksheet for off-campus student dwellers might help you achieve that.


Economical Meal Planning

Tips for staying on budget when you live off campus. DearKidLoveMom.comIn order to make your budget last all month long, the first thing you need to take care of when you are choosing your off-campus apartment are your household appliances. To be more precise, you have to buy an energy efficient cooktop. The equation is quite simple – if you live outside the campus, you will have to cook more. If you do not get proper cooking appliances, energy-wise, you will waste hundreds of dollars more on your electricity bills.

Also, when it comes to preparing food, I realized during my studies that home-made meals, such as rice, beans, zucchini, and vegetable-based dishes in general will leave more money in your pocket. But beware of the yummiest of recipes! You will have to edit the quantities of most ingredients most of the time, because college is no time to eat a “serves four” dish by yourself.

Not every meal is cheaper than a restaurant meal, and some places treat students particularly generously. Keep in mind, as well, that eating fast food too often is the main reason most people put on serious weight in college, that vain time when living your life for the perfect Instagram shot is not frowned upon. Eating home-cooked food is the best way to stay on top of your budget and health.


Privacy Settings

As people differ in everything they do, their approaches to studying also vary significantly. While some students like being surrounded by dozens of their fellow students, others prefer living and studying alone. Whatever you do, bear in mind that you have come to university to become a highly educated professional. So, if you want your own peace of mind, renting a room for a single person is the best solution. I tried sharing a room with a friend of mine, not just an acquaintance, but someone I could trust, and it was not practical at all. Probably the best option is having your own room in an apartment populated with one or two additional students, too. Such an arrangement will give you a chance to combine both private and social features of your life within the same place.


Rent Issues

When I was a student, I often changed apartments. This strategy can also save a lot of money, annually speaking. Basically, whenever I realized that my roommates – well, flatmates at least– were going to leave our place, I also moved. The biggest issue with living with other people is trusting them to stay on top of their rent. Staying alone in an apartment meant to be shared by two or three people is impossible, even for a month. This is why you should always ask your roommates how long they are planning to stay and include that in your housing contract. You can further improve your financial situation regarding rent by agreeing with your landlord to use a rent payment program – we settled for Rental Rewards. It motivated both my landlord, one of my flatmates, and myself to be mindful of rent payment dates.

I firmly believe my university years formed me as a person more than high school ever could. The most important lesson I learned there was how to live on my own with the assets I have at my disposal. I hope my experience will help new students make their first independent steps with more ease than I ever did.


Kate Flannery is a lifestyle blogger a long way from home. She moved from Perth to Novi Sad as part of a student exchange program for literature majors, and has stayed in Europe since, as an ESL and creative writing teacher. She spends her time connecting with fellow expats, looking for the next great adventure, and pining for the Australian boating scene. You can keep up with her on HighStyleLife.

Thanks Kate! Have a great day, kiddo.

Love, Mom