First, you're three miles from law school yet can't get cable tv? If you can get cable tv then you can get cable internet, and if you can get cable internet, get it. Yes, its nice to have the internet in the law building, but there will be times when you'll really just want to get the heck out of there, and its nice to be able to work from home, and dial-up sucks. I can get cable TV, but I have a basement apartment and it comes with DirecTV satellite included in the rent (it's $500/mo for a fully furnished 2 bedroom apt, and that includes all utilities and satellite TV . I've used dialup plenty of times, and for the things I'll be doing at home, cable just isn't necessary. I can download all my music/movies while at school, and when I get home I'll probably just use the net for surfing and AIM. Don't forget about renter's insurance, Laundry money if you don't have a washer dryer in your apartment.There's no renters insurance in my case, and a $250 refundable security deposit. I agree that a daily budget is hard to work with actual living, if you cook at all, there will be leftovers etc, I'd have a monthly budget, but weekly should work too. Don't count out incidentals, you never know whats really going to pop up. Maybe you need new tires for your car, maybe you need to fly somewhere for an emergency. When I lived in an apartment during my undergraduate I almost never got fast food. Virtually everything I ate came from WalMart, and I lived like that for more than year without a single problem. I've worked the "incidental costs" into my food budget. I'm giving myself $4000 for 9 months, and the city has about 30% the cost of living in a downtown "urban" area, so that should be more than enough. As far as incidentals go, I have basically everything "expensive" I own insured (for example, I have the on-site repair, 3 year warranty for my laptop, and my car is still under warranty and has less than 35,000 miles) so I'm not expecting any MAJOR expenses. The only thing I can imagine is a dental emergency, since the school doesn't offer dental insurance. I'd request the maximum amount possible. If there's money left over, request less the next year. You want to be comfortable, and the last thing you're going to want to worry about around finals time is having enough money to eat. Since my apartment is only going to be $4500 for the entire year (yes, my renter is letting me out of paying for the summer months when I'm not there... I really lucked out on my apartment. I have someone that I trust who lived in this apt. for two years a few years and said the place is definitely worth it) and I have a LOT of money saved up from working over the last 18 months, I'm definitely not going to take out the full amount. I'll be paying 3.75% plus the LIBOR (which is about 3.34%) on any private loans, and since I have cash on hand and no previous loans to deal with, it'd be crazy to take out the maximum. I get about 4.15% on a "Demand Notes" Checking account through GMAC, so if I keep all my loan money in there, I'll be able to recoup about half the interest fees.
There's no renters insurance in my case, and a $250 refundable security deposit.
These days it doesn't make sense to get dialup if you have a cell phone (hopefully you get a signal in your apt. some don't). I don't plan to have a landline, but if I did then I would have to pay $30 for the phone line and on top of that however much the dialup service is. You can get DSL or Cable for less than that. There are alot of deals for new customers. Also when you call to cancel, alot of times they will extend the deal, so you keep getting it.