Congratulations! You officially have a college-bound teen in your home. Once you’ve completed all the necessary paperwork, it’s time to sit down and create a spending plan. This may sound difficult, but it’s necessary to help your child realize that money doesn’t grow on trees out there in the real world.
Guide Your College-Bound Teen in Creating a Budget
While there’s always a chance of an unexpected tuition increase or textbook cost that may leave you scrambling, be prepared by considering some of these commonly overlooked expenses:
Your soon-to-be freshmen may be excited to live on his or her own, but you’re having the opposite reaction as you look at the costs of local apartments and on-campus housing. If the monthly rent will be paid for by student loans, select the safest and most cost-efficient option possible, or have your child consider living at home for the first year to save money. Be sure to also consider costs for cleaning supplies, organizational needs and basic furnishings.
If your student hasn’t learned how to spot deals in the grocery store yet, it’s about time you give him or her a crash course. Food is a major budget buster for college students because it’s something they must have to survive. It’s also something that they don’t think much about until funds are running low. If pizza or takeout is on the menu every evening for dinner, expect your teen to be calling you sooner than later for more money.
At some higher education institutions, freshmen are required to sign up for a meal plan, which ensures they’re always covered for meals even if their bank account is bare. However, you should still encourage him or her to set a budget for food each month in case the dining hall grows old.
Automobile & Transportation
Vehicle costs should also be included in your budget. Shop around for car insurance to make sure you’ve locked in the best deal. Also, teach your teen about planning ahead and encourage him or her to make the most out of errand days to save on gas. Before your child leaves home, make sure he or she understands the importance of regular oil changes, tire rotations, and scheduling annual maintenance inspections. Lastly, look into the costs associated with parking on campus.
If your teen isn’t headed to school with his or her car this first year, consider the costs of transportation on campus along with the public transportation options around town.
Include a line item for clothing in the budget, and make it clear that this line is non-negotiable. Include room for the seasonal essentials to stay comfortable and safe in extreme weather conditions, while also allowing a little room for the purchase of a few trendy items. Find the local Goodwill and introduce your teen to the joy of finding deals there.
What college student doesn’t want to have fun? Although your teen’s primary focus should be on earning a degree and launching a career, many students use this time to spread their wings and really experience life. Because doing so often comes at a cost, the birthday celebrations, social activities, and other sources of entertainment need to be included in the spending plan.
Along with emphasizing the need for a balanced budget, communicate the importance of saving to help your soon-to-be freshman plan for the future.
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