BUDGETING AND BALANCING: HELPING YOUR STUDENT MANAGE MONEY
Mid-morning cappuccino drinks, 3 p.m. candy bars and late night pizza can tempt the taste buds. But they aren't so good for a student's swipe card when done on a regular basis. While adherence to a formal budget isn't likely, there are ways to encourage your student to be cost conscious.
When going out with friends, students should try to balance cost-associated activities with free or inexpensive ones. BW offers an array of free and reasonably priced activities, including concerts, theatre presentations, speakers, movies, Thursday Mid-Night Madness events and more.
Limit credit card use
According to Nellie Mae, the nation's largest maker of student loans, the average undergraduate has $2,200 in credit card debt. If full payments are not made and students continue to spend, they may be faced with credit card debt that can last up to 10 years. For many students a debit card may be a better alternative. Debit cards offer the convenience of no-cash transactions within the limitations of spending based on funds currently in accounts rather than debt-oriented buying.
Reviewing bills for hidden costs and other wastes is prudent in today's economy. Students also can benefit from comparing competitor products/services, especially for credit cards, cell phones, and ATMs.
Resist habitual spending
The convenience of vending machines and fast food venues makes it easy for students to fall victim to habitual spending when it comes to buying snacks, beverages and other items. Similarly, frequent trips to the mall can erode student budgets because of the temptation to overspend.
Weigh the need for a car
The convenience of having a car on campus offers students many benefits. However, these factors should be weighed against the costs of a campus parking pass, gas, vehicle maintenance and other incidentals.
Set money aside
Encourage your student to automatically set aside a certain portion of money for savings and/or for special activities like a study abroad program, an out-of-town conference or other rewarding academic experience.
Many freshmen err in overspending on their Jacket Express account the first semester. Sometimes talking with your student about the need to better budget expenses can help. Other times a written agreement can articulate expectations if parents are funding the account. With the new semester starting, your student has a fresh start. Encourage smart spending.