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Back to School

Back to School

This time of the year marks the “back to school” season. For many of you out there, it may also be your child’s first semester in college. In May, they needed the teacher’s permission to use the bathroom. Four or five months later, they’re completely living on their own. That’s a scary thought. What also might be scary is the idea helping your kids with budgeting while they’re at  college. Don’t worry. Here are some tips.

Hold Off on Planning

Let your kid live out the first month or so on their own. Unless they’re prone to making giant unnecessary splurges, don’t worry. Test out the waters, and work with them to figure out their spending habits. Are they spending $2.50 on coffee every morning before class? Does their spending spike up on Friday nights? Once they get into the swing of things and get into a routine, it’s easier to create a more effective budget.

Monitoring Expenses

You could help your kid get into the habit of creating a budget journal, but let’s be real. It’s 2017 and almost all of this can be done from a smartphone. Your bank might have an app that can send you and your kid notifications on account activity. This can help them avoid those nasty overdraft fees on their debit card.

There are also a variety of apps that are available to help not just college students, but anyone in general to manage their expenses. Mint for example, can automatically help someone keep track of their spending habits, net worth, and monthly bills. Keeping track of spending habits has never been so easy.

Failure is an Option

Not in their classes of course. Chances are, in their first year, your child is going to be living in a dorm and they’ll be on some sort of meal plan. They won’t starve or go homeless if they go broke.They will however, learn first hand how much wasteful spending…doesn’t pay off. Maybe they’ll miss out on a concert with their friends, or some other fun activity. If they face this inconvenience now, they’ll be more vigilant about it when they’re out in the real world.

Get Book Smart

Every year, the average college student will spend about $655 on textbooks. To add salt to wounds, from 2002 and 2013, the price of college textbooks rose about 82%. That’s insane.

Luckily, there are some ways to work around this obstacle. One way is to wait after the first day of classes to buy books. The reason? Many of the times professors will only assign a portion of the book itself. Spending $180 on a book that’s only going to be skimmed for a few sections…is a waste. Maybe that book is in the school library, and your kid could just copy those pages for a few cents.

Also, always go after used books when possible. Not only are they less expensive, but they may also have notes and highlighted sections from previous owners. Your kid can also split the cost of a textbook with a roommate, or a study partner.

Jobs and Side Gigs

If your child already works a job in the summers, that’s great. They probably have a substantial amount saved since, well, chances are they were living rent-free in your home. If they’re applicable, check out work study opportunities on campus. Sometimes, these jobs can even be beneficial to your kid’s education and coincide with their academic interests. Other than that, maybe a part-time job will help them manage finances and while balancing school work.

It’s a Learning Experience

For the price of tuition, your kid should be learning a lot in the classroom, but that’s not what it’s completely about. College is also a time of transitioning into adulthood. It’s about what you make with the new freedom you are given. At this point of their life, you shift from the role of guardian to advisor. In four years, you want to see a functioning adult walk off that stage with a degree in their hand. Being a guiding hand with their finances in college will help them for decades to come.

The adult world is complex, especially when it comes down to taxes, buying a home, or setting up a business. At Chechele Law, we offer a variety of services covering these areas and more. Contact us and let us be your guiding hand.

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