A Budget for Your College Student
Many students will first handle money without parental supervision during college. To help keep expenses down and avoid conflicts, you might want to develop a budget to guide your child’s spending. As you go through the process, consider the following:
First consider all potential expenses, including food, travel, clothing, entertainment, phone, periodicals, computer expenses, medical and dental expenses, and insurance.
Develop a preliminary budget for the first couple of months of college. You may find that you forgot about certain items. After your child has lived on his/her own for a few months, you can develop a more realistic budget.
If your child has trouble sticking with the budget or can’t account for large sums, have him/her keep a journal for a couple of weeks that details all expenditures. Go over the journal together to determine how expenses can be reduced.
Consider providing your child with a debit card rather than a credit card. Since your child’s spending will be limited to the amount on deposit, it is harder to overspend.
Explain the basics of credit cards. Make sure your child doesn’t use a credit card as a means to overspend. Go over which types of items your child can use the credit card for and which items should not be charged. Make sure your child understands that if the balance isn’t paid in full each month, a significant amount of interest will be due on the outstanding balance. If you teach your child nothing else, try to instill the concept of paying credit card balances in full every month.
Have your child provide you with a written monthly comparison of his/her actual expenses to budgeted amounts.
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