With classes reconvening in a matter of weeks, now is a good time to talk to the college-bound students in your life about spending money wisely. Whether entering their first year of undergrad classes or final semester of grad school, students can easily get carried away with spending money while balancing a syllabus and a social life. Here are 6 ways to save money in college to share with the students in your life.
Explain how to budget in college.
Whether or not the college students in your life are making their own money, it’s important to explain to them how to budget in college. Are they living at home or somewhere else off campus? It’s a good idea to create buckets for things like food, housing, transportation and savings. Even if they’re on campus with a full meal plan, brunch happens. Keeping set amounts of spending money for different occasions is one of the best ways to save money, enjoy college and stay on track to a smart financial future.
Find out what books they’ll need ahead of time.
Not only is this a good practice in preparedness, it’s also a great way to save money. If your student can learn which books they’ll need ahead of time each semester, they can look into borrowing, renting or downloading textbooks rather than shelling out a small fortune to buy them new.
Seasonal sales aren’t always bargains.
For many retail stores, the back to school season is one of the busiest of the year. Families and students scramble to get the “best” deals on everything from clothing and linens to notebooks and laptops. In some cases, these deals really are the best of the year. But for students simply looking to update their wardrobes or change up their dorm décor, it’s often best to wait until the initial rush is over and scoop up the end-of-season discounts.
This is a good lesson overall for students since most seasonal items experience the same ebb and flow. If they can wait to stock up for next year, or even next month, they’ll often come out of a shopping trip victorious – and with some money to put back into savings.
Student IDs can help them save.
From museums and movie theaters to insurance and iPads, many retailers and attractions offer great discounts to college students. Flashing your student ID can be one of the easiest ways to save money in college, and in some cases, after graduation too. You can find a list of great deals to share with the students in your life here. Remind your college students that even if an offer isn’t listed on a retailer’s website, it’s always a good idea to ask.
They’ll need to know how to use a checking account.
If you read our last FutureTrack Blog post, 5 Keys to Achieving Financial Independence, then you’ll remember the discussion about spending less than you earn. For college students holding part-time jobs or not working at all, this can be especially challenging as the temptation to spend is always there, though the funds may not be as readily available. Talk to your student about checking in on their accounts regularly.
Your student should also explore setting up their own account, if they don’t have one already, and how to use a checking account and debit card responsibly. Learning about managing these accounts and how to budget in college now can be just as important as the lessons they learn in the classroom. And the ability to transfer funds allows them to request or receive payments from friends or cash from you when they need it.
Talk to them about getting a credit card in college.
If your student doesn’t have one already, now is the time to explore getting a credit card in college, even if it’s still tied to your account. Learning how to spend and pay back responsibly while the stakes are relatively low, i.e. before owning property or beginning to pay off student loans, can help pave the way to smart spending and budgeting habits in the future. Plus a credit card helps them establish a credit score, which they’ll need for those larger purchases down the road.
As the college students in your life start preparing for the coming school year, carve out some time to talk with them about ways to save money in college. Once they set out on their own and start repaying college loans, they’ll have a strong foundation upon which to build their financial future. For more savings and budgeting tips, visit our FutureTrack Blog.
Every step can put you closer to reaching your financial goals, whether saving for retirement, financing an education or planning a move. Knowing how to get there is the best way forward. Schedule your complimentary goal planning session with our FutureTrack team today.