In just a few weeks, many Wise County families will send their high school graduate into the world of college. Going to college is an awesome experience and one that can definitely be enhanced when careful planning and wise spending stretch the bucks allotted.
Following are just a few money tips that I encourage families to share with their college student to help them get more for their money. This advice comes from the voice of experience, “don’t assume your child already knows the ins and outs of money management, because many times they don’t.”
1. Budget your money to last. Know what you can spend, and know when you’ve spent too much. Keeping your checkbook balanced will keep you from going overboard. Set a little money aside for emergencies.
2. Be price sensitive. Comparison shop to save money.
3. Use a debit card (check card) instead of a credit card to keep you from overspending.
4. If you have subscribed to a full or partial meal plan at school, use it. Don’t leave money on the table by not using what you’ve paid for.
5. Be careful about how much money you spend eating out. Remember that beverages can really add to your cost. In fact, they may be the most expensive part of a fast food meal. Get into the habit of ordering regular tap water with ice and lemon/lime to accompany your meal, and you will save a lot of money in the long run.
6. Beware of “sales.” There’s no savings if you buy things you would not have purchased unless on sale.
7. Get information from your financial aid office even if you do not have a student loan. The offices usually stock information on budgeting, economizing and managing credit.
8. Pay your credit card in full every month. Don’t charge everything. Set rules for yourself. People who use their credit card for “everything” tend to spend more money, and often it is money that they do not have.
9. Be wary of credit card solicitations. You need only one credit card. Too much credit damages your credit history. Comparison shop for a credit card if you don’t have one. They are not all the same. Look for a low APR, no annual fees and low/no extra fees and charges. Pay special attention to how your interest rate will change if you are late in making a payment.
To obtain additional information about how college students can get more for their money during college, call the Extension office at (940) 627-3341.