College Planning: Money Management Tips for College Students

BY: Brent Landrum

The start of a college semester can be overwhelming for both the student and parents.  The expense of education comes with living and textbook costs, as well as many other items you may not be prepared for.  Let’s look at costs and how you can be fiscally responsible:

  1. Meal Plans: Take advantage of plans offered.  Schools typically have dining and convenience store-style options for students to eat meals and purchase other grocery items. If you’re already paying for the plan, use it up versus ordering pizzas instead.
  2. Off-Campus Dining: If you are not living on campus and opt not to have a meal plan, then preparing your own food can be an economical option.  Cook food that can provide for more than one meal and plan for leftovers.  Groceries can seem expensive but will save you money when you are dining out less.
  3. Textbooks: More and more schools are offering students the chance to rent textbooks rather than purchase.  This can save you hundreds of dollars each semester.  However, if you do have that one book you must purchase, research used options on campus and online.  Not only will you save money, but you may also get the previous owner’s notes as a bonus! 
  4. Entertainment: Don’t splurge on the weekends because you think you have “free” money from student loans.  Schools provide plenty of on-campus activities, such as sporting events or movie nights, that are either free or discounted.
  5. Excess Loan Money: Take the loan money not used from one semester and apply it to the next.  This affords you the opportunity to take less loan money overall.
  6. Furniture: If you are living off-campus and needing furniture, shop at garage sales, estate sales, and other discounted venues.  Occasionally, schools will sell old dorm room furniture you could capitalize on.  With all the moving you will do during these years, don’t invest great sums of money into furniture.  Save where you can!
Budgeting can be hard to get a handle on, but these banking products can help:

  1. Savings Accounts: Use a savings account as a primary account.  This product has federal regulations that stipulate you can only withdraw money six times per month, so it can help you budget when you take money out.
  2. Debit Card Limits: These cards have various limits depending on the type of transaction you are doing.  Set your limits low to prevent over-spending and to help you save.
Take some time to learn your spending habits and determine what your budget should be.  Save when and where you can.  And finally, if you don’t need it now, put it away for a rainy day!

Watch for more information on planning for college expenses each month in this newsletter. If you would like help in planning appropriately for college tuition, call (608) 798-5233.

Brent Landrum

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