Supervise an Easy Budget for Your College Student

haveuheard budget

This is a budget lesson that will serve you in the future!

Some students actually keep to a budget. I know this is true because I have had three of my own and they all struggled at the beginning, but eventually got it. It was hard telling my daughter, as I watched her weekly allowance dwindle, that she better be more cautious or stock up on peanut butter for her next few meals until her next allowance came. I knew the gift of teaching her to budget her money would be far more useful than the pain I was feeling saying so; even when she had to forgo sushi with friends.

At orientation we were inundated with information about all sorts of things; from FAFSA forms to meal plans. No one ever really elaborated on the best way to budget and handle finances when it comes to how much to give your new student. Perhaps this is because it will vary based on need, ability, preparedness to handle the responsibility, what an allowance should cover, and so on. The need for a budget hit when our daughter announced, that she was excited to learn that there are places near campus that provide student discounts on manicures. I suppose the word discount was a good start, but not enough.

Budget 101. I wanted to sign her up right away but realized that it wasn’t just her that needed this class, but we, as her parents, needed to have a better handle on how much we would be doling out, how often, and what the parameters for spending our money, as opposed to her savings, would be. Did we expect her to have a job at school? We needed a solid plan and we all had to develop an economic skill set with guidelines and rules – quickly. College is not only about academics, but also about learning how to navigate the real world.

I started questioning friends with kids in college and found there is a lot to consider. My first family rule; 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. Books and school supplies were to go on my credit card, which was also there for emergencies. Food, depending on whether your student has a meal plan or lives in an apartment may vary.

Check out our blog on Meal Plans to have a better understanding of what they may need beyond what the meal plan pays allows. In addition, some girls belong to sororities, that provide meals, but usually not on weekends. Our daughter ate lunch at her sorority house regularly. If our daughter chooses to use her allowance up on pedicures and sushi, then peanut butter and jelly can help to balance her budget.

The Lesson Is…

The point here is that we are not looking for our daughter to suffer (I assure you she has never endured any sort of agonizing hardship), but rather to learn to budget her money. It is our goal to not have to support her after college and feel optimistic this may ease her into that realm. So, basically, after polling other parents $75 a week seemed to be right in the middle of the census.

The good news is that there are plenty of places around FSU’s campus that make sticking to a budget possible. There are also a few good tricks. For instance, if your students have a meal plan, encourage them to bring back a few snacks from the dining room for later. There is nothing wrong with leaving with a banana, apple, or hardboiled egg. Check out the various apps like Pocket Points, that allows students to earn points toward discounts at restaurants. that can be used as $1 off at many restaurants like Dominos, Pita Pit, and Muscle Maker Grill. There are others, but PocketPoints is my favorite because they earn points by opening the app and locking their phones during classes. There are even double-point days.  Another great app is Hooked that actually posts time-sensitive deals at local FSU restaurants.

Tell them to check out some of their favorite places to see if they give a student discount. Bada Bean gives 10% with student ID, for instance, but there are many more all over town – on campus and off. Check around too for daily deals. My daughter has literally become a regular at on Fridays at Smoothie King! There are also many budget-friendly places to eat.

Eventually, they will find all the deals out there and when they can manage on their own after college, they will thank you. Well, they probably won’t thank you, but knowing they are eating and sticking to a reasonable budget is thanks enough for this mom.  And by the way, don’t expect them to take you to any of the restaurants that offer deals when you visit. That is when they will be hoping for the meal they presently can’t afford.

Consider having your students get their own credit cards. It is a great way for them to start learning how to budget themselves while building their credit for when they are out on their own. Our credit card recommendations. Obviously, none of this is set in stone. It all depends on your family’s personal choices and financial decisions. Perhaps your student has a job while at school and won’t ask you for a thing. Maybe that job is to pay for the extras; like nights out, a spring break cruise, or next semester abroad. Maybe your student despises P, B & J; although tuna fish makes a fair alternative. Remember, of course, that other than meal plan options, which have to be adjusted early in the semester; allowances can be altered.

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2020-10-19T10:50:24-04:000 Comments

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