With your child going off to college this fall, there are money-saving hacks that can save him or her a lot of cash. College freshman are just starting their adult life, and some haven't learned savvy financial habits. While it might take your child time to adopt smart money habits, money-saving hacks can stretch his dollar and yours.
1. Don’t Worry about a Car
If you want to teach your kid money-saving hacks, tell him not to worry about a car — at least not yet. Understandably, most college students want their own ride. But with a car comes extra expenses. There’s the cost of a monthly payment, auto insurance, maintenance and gas. And if your freshman has a tight budget (like most students), eliminating transportation expenses can stretch his dollar.
2. Cook Meals in Your Room
Since most dorm rooms do not have a kitchen, most college freshmen eat in a cafeteria, which can be costly if the student isn’t on a meal plan. If your freshman doesn't have a kitchen, his school may allow a mini fridge, a hot plate or a mini grill in rooms. With these tools, he can pick up items from the grocery store and prepare meals himself for less.
3. Only Borrow What You Need
If applying for a federal student loan, it's important that your freshman only borrows what he or she needs. Some college freshman get higher student loans, and then use the remaining balance for living expenses. It's okay to use a student loan for books and supplies, but using funds for living expenses ultimately increases the amount owed upon graduation.
4. Get a Part-time Job
It can be difficult to juggle college life with work life. However, getting a part-time job helps freshman pay some of their college expenses out of pocket. They can make in-school interest payments and reduce their total student loan debt. Even if he or she can only work 10 or 15 hours a week, this is better than not working at all.
5. Use Groupon
The weekends are your freshman's time to unwind and hang with friends, but unfortunately, recreation can be expensive. Encourage your college student to use discount websites, such as Groupon or Living Social. These are practical ways to find discounts on just about anything from electronics to getaways.
6. Buy Used
Buying used allows your freshman to get more for his or her money. Used does not suggest buying super old or worn clothing. In fact, he might find excellent deals at a thrift store, a yard sale or a consignment shop. Other good buys include used furniture, clothes, decor and refurbished electronics.
7. Swap Clothes
After a while, some young adults get tired of wearing the same outfits over and over again. If your freshman becomes close with a roommate or other students, there's the option of swapping clothes. For example, if your daughter has a bunch of scarves that she no longer wears, she might swap these for her roommate’s sweaters.
The sooner your college freshman adopts money-saving habits, the sooner she can begin preparing for her financial future. Learning how to save money early can prepare her for saving later in life, perhaps when she’s ready to buy a house or plan for retirement. What are other money-saving tips every college freshman should know?