Posted by Mary Caraccioli | Filed under education
There are so many things to think about before you head off to college, it is can be hard to get your arms around it all. That includes the money stuff. Often we are so concerned with the big ticket items like tuition, room and board and financial aid, we forget about the small stuff. These 5 tips will help you organize those small things that can really add up.
When it comes to your money, here are 5 strategies for stretching your dollars.
1) Chose debit Use a debit card instead of a credit card for purchases. Parents tell me they want their kids to start building credit so they encourage them to get a credit card before heading tocollege. There is plenty of time and other ways to “build credit.” I prefer you learn to manage money first. A debit card is great because if you don’t have the cash – you can’t make the purchase. That reality forces financial discipline. You can save hundreds of dollars in interest each year by spending what you have.
2) Hyper-local banking Think about where you bank. Students can save $200-$300 a year if they have that debit card from the right bank.
If there is an ATM in your dorm or on campus, that is the bank you should consider using. If you use the ATM 2 or 3 times a week you can avoid about $300 dollars ATM fees.
3) Better books Rent the textbooks. It’s even better than buying used. Here are a few places you can rent from:
Chegg.com, BookRenter.com, half.com, TextbookRentals.com, CampusBookRentals.com, ecampus.com, CollegeBookRenter.com, ValoreBooks.com, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble
Free is even better. Most college campuses keep text books at their library. Use that first week of school to find out what books you can read for free. Employing both these techniques can easily save $1,000 a year.
4) Manage Minutes Smarter Download two apps on your computer or phone: Pageonce and Skype.
Talk is cheap on Skype and using video calling can make homesickness disappear faster than a status update or text message. This can save you hundreds of dollars a year in expensive cell minutes and may allow you to buy a cheaper mobile service plan.
Pageonce is a great app that allows you to track how many minutes or text messages you have available in a service contract. Checking the app weekly is a great lesson in time management!
5) Work it Baby There are 168 hours a week. 56 for sleep, 40 for school and 72 for everything else. You can dedicate 20-hours a week to work and still have 52 free hours a week. Those 20-hours can keep that debit card full all year round!
You can even make money going to class – some schools need notes taken in specific classes, if you are a good note-taker, you may be able to make extra money for something you are already doing.
Extra Credit for Parents Before your freshman (or senior) heads off to school this year - tell them you are creating an emergency fund ($100 - or what you feel comfortable with) If they get into trouble they can call you. Kids make mistakes – this emergency fund gives them a little slack – and it gives them a reason to call you first if they run into trouble. Don’t be judgmental – but don’t refill it either. It is a one and done per school year.