4 Contracts to Avoid Signing in College

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One of the biggest issues with signing a contract for services is that you must often buy out the contract if you want to end it early. When you are in college your life may not be stable enough to have a year-long commitment to any particular service or it may be difficult to stick to your college budget. Here are five areas where you should avoid signing a contract and alternatives to still take advantage of the services. This will let you save money while you are in college

Lease for the Entire Apartment

When you live off campus, you most likely will have roommates to save on rent. If you sign the lease for the entire apartment, and you have a roommate that flakes on paying his portion of the rent, you may end up paying additional rent, hurting your budget or you may end up damaging your credit if payments are late. This may mean you end up eating ramen a lot more often than you want to.

  • Look for an apartment that will rent per bedroom and will issue a separate lease to each person staying in the apartment. This will protect you if you have a roommate flake on you. It may give you less control over who is your roommate, but often the apartments are willing to work with roommate requests. This can help you protect your credit while in college.

Contracts for Utilities and Cable

When you are renting the utility company may offer you a contract that will allow you to even out your bill and make it the same amount each month. There are often overage penalties due at the end of the year if you end up using more than planned. Additionally, when you are thinking about signing up for cable or Dish TV they may offer lower rates or free installation with a contract, but you are going to be left with fees if you end up moving or no longer being able to afford the bill.

  • Look for an apartment that covers the utilities for you. Some apartment complexes will divide the utilities between the roommates. Others will provide cable and internet for free. This can simplify the entire process. Look for an internet or cable provider that does not require a contract. Also if you are responsible for utilities in your apartment, then have each roommate put one in their own name to spread the risk.

Cell Phone Contracts

It used to be that the only way to get a cell phone was with a year-long contract that gives you a free phone, but an expensive plan with data charges that add up quickly. If finances get tight, it can be difficult to cut back your plan and stay within your limits. There are alternatives that give you good options at more affordable costs.

  • Try the new cell plans that are available through Project Fi. They offer month-to-month plans that are more affordable than a prepaid plan and the phones are not tied to one provider. The plans start with a basic $20.00 a month and then $10.00 for each gig of data. If you are not happy with Project Fi, then you can switch to a new provider. Republic Wireless is another affordable option with unlimited talk and text and one gig of data starting at $25.00 a month. More data options are available, but it gives you much more flexibility. The cheapest option may be to beg your parents to carry you on their cell phone plan through college.

Gym Memberships

Gyms are notorious for contracts that are difficult to break and huge fees to leave the contract early. There is simply no reason to sign up for a gym membership that requires you to sign a contract that you have to break. You do not need to jump through those hoops to find a gym that you can workout at.

  • Start by working out at the gym at your apartment complex. Most apartments offer basic cardio equipment and a few weight machines. Another option is to work out at the gym or fitness center offered through your university. This is often much more affordable than any local gym membership and they may offer classes that you can take. Another alternative is to find a gym that lets you have a month-to-month membership without the need to sign a contract. Your local recreation center is another option that can save you money and the need to sign a monthly contract.