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A planned approach to college spending

How to Save While Pursuing a Diploma

Sept. 2, 2016

College may be a time to spread your wings, but students don’t have to spread their wallets too wide to enjoy the ride. If they stick to a spending plan, their financial futures may be better off.

Let’s talk costs

According to collegeboard.org, the costs for tuition, fees, room and board during the 2015-2016 school year were around $19,548 for a public four-year, in-state college or university. That’s a 3.3 percent increase over the 2014-2015 school year.

“The costs of tuition and fees and room and board are high and rising. They’re even higher for students and families who choose out-of-state and private institutions,” said Joe Buhrmann, manager of financial security at COUNTRY Financial®. “Why not recommend students live frugally during their college years in order to limit their dependence on loans and other debt-ridden avenues once they’re out on their own.”

Six tips for simple living in college:

  1. Live below your means. With a heavy school load and extracurricular activities, students may not have much time to create and follow a budget, so why not follow one simple rule? Live below your means.

  2. Stick to dorm life. Sure a shared off campus apartment may seem glamourous, but why not urge your student to stick to the dorms if it means saving some cash. Quarters close to class could also mean they’ll hoof it more often and lean less on a car or public transportation.

  3. Choose a meal plan. Dining out every meal or cooking on their own may seem like a dream, but in reality, each meal not accounted for can add up to big bucks. Urge them to save on extra expenses by eating in a dining hall.

  4. Avoid Greek life. Before they decide to go Greek students may want to consider the costs of buying into their campus social scene. Annual dues, fees, housing and food can tack on thousands of dollars more to their annual tab. That doesn’t include the costs of T-shirts touting their Greek letters.

  5. Work-in time for a part-time job. It might be hard to balance a school/work schedule, but if your student needs some cash to supplement their lifestyle, why not urge them to try to land an easy job on the side. Waiting tables or a paid internship can add up big in terms of job experience and life lessons.

  6. Skip out on spring break. Sun and sand may sound amazing, but if money is tight, students should avoid costly breaks on the beach. Why not suggest they do some good for others through volunteer opportunities instead. These experiences can cost far less and can enhance their future résumé.

“College and university life is almost guaranteed to be a great experience no matter the cost,” said Buhrmann. “Why not err on the conservative spending side and encourage your student to choose a less costly path towards earning their degree.”

Want to follow other finance topics COUNTRY Financial is covering? Follow us on Twitter @helloCOUNTRY or read our blog, countryfinancialsecurityblog.com.