Where do your college expenses go?

There are many ways to cut back on college expenses, especially when youth may not realize where their money is actually going these days.

As a high school student or first year college student, the idea of having monies for school expenses needs to be taught prior to entering high school or college. No matter if you are taking college classes during your high school years or moving into a dorm for your freshman year, Michigan State University Extension suggests there is always a need for extra money.

According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, as the government searches for ways to decrease college debt, there are many ways to help youth understand where their money goes and tips for not spending as much.

Some of the suggestions include:

  1. Making a file. Whether you purchase a bottle of water or a pack of gum, keep all receipts in a folder for one month. Then go through it afer 30 days and make a list of what you spent your money on. Track your spending on a site such as mint.com.
  2. Check out local banks. Local banks or credit unions offer student friendly checking accounts. Look for perks such as no monthly fees, minimum balances or free ATM withdrawels.
  3. Credit cards. Credit cards should be use as last resort or emergencies. According to the Federal Reserve System, in 2012 the average college undergraduate was carrying $3,173.00 in credit card debt.
  4. Look at campus meal deals. Only use what you will use and adjust each semester. Take your own snacks to classes in commuting. Use grocery reward cards. Prepare before each week –bake cookies, make small freezer portions of casseroles and bring your own water bottle to fill up.
  5. Textbook options. Depending on the course, textbooks can be really expensive. There are many ways to save money through online sites like text.books.com or amazon.com that offer cheaper books. Used is a good option when purchasing books as well.
  6. Free is the best choice. Check out “free” when looking through the paper or if you see flyers around campus. Free concerts, club sports and other events can also help your budget.
  7. Save with scholarships. Find scholarships through salliemae.com or scholarships.com to save on cost of tuition.
  8. Don’t give up. There is always an option to be a part-time college student and also work part time. This may take longer, but the need for additional loans and debt could be less by the time you graduate.
  9. Dorm life. Deciding what to bring to college dorms or apartments can lead to additional expenses. Only bring what you need, not what everyone else has. Check out what college students don’t need.

For more information on budgeting, financial literacy for youth and other topics, visit MSU Extension and Michigan 4-H.

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