College is expensive no matter how you slice it. Even with scholarships and grants, there will be expenses for food, gas, dates, car insurance and unexpected things and emergencies that arise. When my 15 year-old heads off to college in three years, my wife and I will be helping her with a budget when she attends her institution of choice.
Like most families who want to help their kids get their degree, my wife and I are already taking steps to save for college. When our daughter gets to college, we’ve already got some ideas about how to help her manage expenses.
My daughter already has a reloadable debit card to help manage her allowance. She has an occasional babysitting job, as she doesn’t need to have a regular job. Some of that money from jobs and allowances goes on that debit card so she can manage her own account.
These money management techniques are lessons we want to impart on our daughter, so that in college she will be cognizant of her own spending. She can know at any time what her balance is and what she has spent. Keeping an electronic record of an expense sheet is an easy way to track what money is being spent where.
Financial aid is a fantastic way to pay for college. Whether you have a loan, grant or scholarship, any amount of money can lessen the burden of families. If you have the ability to spend a scholarship check on whatever educational expenses you need, it may be a good idea to start with the most expensive bills first. Room and board is a large expense. Even having a payment plan for tuition is also a possibility.
One place that will certainly help is the college’s financial office. They can help you with payment plans and what needs to paid first, so you can determine your priorities and avoid interest charges as much as possible.
Having a part time job to supplement expenses is often a necessity in the college world. Perhaps the easiest thing to do is get a job on campus. Whether a college student works in the library shelving books or as a concession stand worker at football games, part time money can come in handy for gas and car insurance.
The beauty of an on-campus job is that you can work around a class schedule, and supervisors have flexible schedules. They realize that you are there to be a student first and an employee second.
Another tip to save money is to live near campus and ride a bicycle or walk instead of taking a car or bus. Having a reloadable debit card is also handy, as mom or dad can reload it by making a phone call or by doing so over the Internet if an emergency arises.
Even in the best college situation, there will always be unexpected expenses. Being as prepared as possible for college money management will help you take on these expenses when they arise.