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College is an exhilarating time. For many young adults, it’s their first taste of independence and living away from home. But having more freedom shouldn’t mean free spending.

That’s why it’s important for parents to talk to their college-bound kids about how to make the most of a limited budget. After all, it’s not something most students learn in the classroom.

So, before your kid heads to campus, share these tips on how to manage their money when they are away at school.


  • Money Management 101

  • Create a Budget

    1. Set a monthly spending limit
    2. Create categories to track spending:

    • Food

    • Personal items (clothing)

    • Textbooks and school supplies

    • Safety (health and car insurance)

    • Recreation

    • Travel

    • The unexpected

  • Tip

    Practice using your budget before you
    get to campus.

  • Stretch Your Meals

    • Reserve eating out for special occasions

    • Stretch meal plans with to-go boxes

    • Make meals in your dorm

  • Tip:

    Rack up fuel points at the grocery store to save on gas.

  • Thrift Favorite Outfits

    Buy and sell gently used clothes online with sites like thredUP and Poshmark

  • Tip:

    Look for student discounts with your college IDs at restaurants, stores, museums and movie theaters.

  • Buy Books Like a Pro

    • Do comparison shopping online

    • Buy early for better deals

    • Look for used books and older editions

    • Rent or share books with a classmate

  • Tip:

    Sell books as soon as the semester ends.

  • Share Your Insurance

    • Stay on your parents’ health and car insurance

    • Look for student insurance plans

  • Tip:

    Check for discounts for filling prescriptions at a certain pharmacy or via a mailorder.

  • Be Persistent

    Stick with it even if you get off track

  • Tip:

    Use free online budgeting tools

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