Budget 101

Is There a Budget 101 Class?

If there is a budget class, sign them up! I’m going to start with the dreaded comment starting “when I was in college, we didn’t have…” (insert teenager eye-roll here).  All of us at HaveUHeard can say that we did not have computers, iPads, or cell phones to help us bank, and somehow, we managed to survive.

I can vividly remember making the dreaded call home to my father to ask for money. My parents had three daughters at UF at the same time so finances were a sensitive subject. This was before cell phones (think wall corded phones) and, dare I say it, before the internet. Banking required you to wait for the statement to arrive in the mail. Since we only spoke once a week (again, no such thing as texting, emails or cell phones), having to mention needing money was not exactly a wanted subject. During college breaks, he would sit me down to discuss why I bounced a check, and why I could not live on a budget and other financial issues.

Budget 101. As parents, we needed to have a better handle on how much we would be doling out, how often and the parameters for spending our money. Did we expect her to have a job while at school and, if she did, would she be able to prioritize and keep her grades at the top of the time management challenge? We needed a solid plan and we all had to develop an economic skill set with guidelines and rules….quickly. I kept reminding myself that college is not only about the academics, but also about the learning how to navigate the real world.

When my older daughter went to school, she would text or email when she needed more money (less confrontational than over the phone). She also had a credit card for emergencies only (and we defined what constituted an emergency – car breaking down, health issues, true emergencies- not a sale at a store or buying alcohol). I first realized that we needed a plan when our daughter announced, during our fifteen minutes together during orientation, that she was excited to learn that there are places near campus that provide student discounts on manicures. What I can tell you is that I will not pay for alcohol. I am not sticking my head in the sand and pretending kids won’t go out and drink, but I don’t have to pay for it either. They can use their summer earnings for that stuff.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread is a complete and ideal meal and cost efficient! Even though jelly has sugar, the combination of peanut butter and bread provides protein, B vitamins, iron, and zinc. Honestly, it is a perfect, little meal. Possibly the best part is that it costs less than fifty cents per sandwich.  There should be no guilt involved in reminding your students that if money is tight they can resort to P, B & J.

Please note: if your child is in a sorority or fraternity, they will be asking you for more money.  Most things are covered in their dues, but it seemed like my daughter always needed money for something additional (big/little gifts, more t-shirts, unofficial sister get-togethers, etc.)  So, get ready!

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