Save It Up

Tips for saving money during college

If you’ve got kids (okay, adults) heading off to college, it’s now or never: You need to have one more conversation about how to save money before they set out on their own. It’s not that you won’t be able to talk to them about finances as they get older, but college is a crucial moment — they will feel and be more independent than ever before. And if you share some savings wisdom with them now, then there’s a good chance it’ll stick. While it’s not exactly easy to save during college, there are some ways to make it happen. Below are some tips you can share:

  • Master the Budget. A budget is boring. A budget is necessary. Those two sentiments are not mutually exclusive. Help your college-bound kid understand the importance of properly tracking their money. There really is no way to build savings if you don’t have a clue about how much cash is coming in versus how much cash is going out. If they don’t want to be old fashioned and create a spreadsheet, then there’s plenty of budgeting apps available, like Mint.
  • Cut Back. Once your kid knows where the money is going, he or she can find areas to reduce spending. They should try using the school meal plan to save on food costs. When buying books, suggest shopping online and at local bookstores for used editions.
  • Automate It. Have your kid set up his or her bank to do automatic deposits into a savings account. It can be a small amount at first. The important thing is to start the process and make “saving first” a habit. Then, as they start to earn more, they can increase the amount socked away each paycheck.
  • Seek Extra Earnings. As CNBC notes, a good way for your kids to make some extra cash is via internships or work-study programs. A recent study found that interns typically earn about $14 per hour on average, while the government gave out an average of $1,400 per student to 3,000 colleges for work-study programs. Your kid could use that extra money for savings, too.
  • Chris O'Shea

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