Tuition is not the only cost associated with college. It is important for families with a college-bound teen to budget for additional costs that are often overlooked. With the average spending on college for the 2013 academic year exceeding $21,000 (according to Daily Finance), students heading to college need to also consider the costs of necessary items including school supplies, electronics, repairs and more.
“The cost of college is rarely as straightforward as it seems,” said Suzanne Symcox, executive vice president for First Fidelity Bank in Oklahoma. “Setting aside funds for unexpected expenses is the best way to avoid a financial set back.”
Symcox suggests the following tips when preparing college budgets:
- Look for cheaper options when purchasing books and school supplies. Start looking early and buy used books. You can also find used books on sites like Amazon and eBay. Wait to purchase school supplies until you know exactly what you will need for each class and shop with friends to make the most of savings opportunities, such as “buy two, get one free” and other bulk savings options.
- Buy food in bulk. College life requires many adjustments, including meal choices. Fast food and eating out is quick and convenient, but those costs add up quickly. Buying food in bulk, cooking at home, exploring dorm food plans and using coupons help students save where it counts.
- Factor in laptop costs. As with any electronic device, repairs and replacements are inevitable. Look into warranty and insurance options and consider payment plans to break up costs. Right before school starts is a great time to find deals and discounts on laptops.
- Plan ahead for transportation and traveling costs. Consider walking, biking, carpooling and using campus buses to save money on transportation while on campus. If you need to purchase a plane ticket to get home for the holidays, buy it months in advance if possible.
- Utilize student discounts for weekend activities. Work out a budget that is easy to stick to during the week so you have extra funds to spend on activities and events on the weekends. Look for group and student discounts at restaurants, movie theaters and sporting events to make these events work within a college budget.