100 ways to help your college student manage money wisely

August 21, 2015

by Steve Rosen


untitledYou’ve moved your college freshman into the dorm room, successfully bunked the beds, pinpointed the closest ATMs to the campus and filled his bank account with cash.

Now, how long before your 18-year-old empties his wallet?

In “College Poor No More!” author Michelle Perry Higgins offers 100 ways to help college students from freshmen to seniors manage their money wisely. Higgins, a financial planner in San Ramon, Calif., said she hopes her new book helps students “avoid the money shortages that plague most students and teaches you how to get the most out of the dollars you have.”

Higgins’ comprehensive list of tips goes beyond budgeting (tip number 4) and the ins and outs of debit and credit cards (tips 7, 9, and 11). She also offers help on how to live frugally and have fun at the same time when shopping, dating, traveling and applying for internships or a job.

Some condensed recommendations from Higgins’ book (New Year Publishing, $14.95):

▪ Don’t blow extra cash: “After a few months of analyzing your budget, you may find a little extra cash in your bank account. … Instead of spending it, save it. Surpluses lead to splurges.”

▪ Ignore credit card offers: “Credit card companies love financially immature college students who fail to pay on time. They hit you with a late fee, and if you can’t pay in full, they add on a huge interest charge.”

▪ Avoid lending money to a friend: “Remember, you’re all poor in college. It may take ages for your friend to pay you back. … Believe it or not, saying, ‘Sorry, I really can’t spare the money right now,’ will be kinder on your relationship than loaning money and never seeing it again.”

▪ Check prices online before hitting the store: “Instead of buying the first item you see, get the SKU number (item number) and type it in online, along with the product’s name or manufacturer’s name. Take some time to find the cheapest possible site to buy it from.”

▪ Watch the cash register: “Do you keep a running total in your head as you walk through the market tossing items in your cart? If your total is higher than expected, run through the bill with the cashier. Confirm that special prices or discounts were included.”

▪ Get separate checks: “Ask the waiter for a separate bill. Splitting the bill ensures you only pay for what you ordered. However, some restaurants do not allow bill splitting. … Ask before you order to avoid nasty and expensive surprises later.”

▪ Watch your dating budget: “Discover the fun of daytime dates. Hiking or biking to a nearby beach, lake, river or mountain peak are great ways to stay active. … These types of dates are (also) free, and fun.”

▪ Take advantage of student discounts: “Many establishments in college towns have some form of student discount. … Always ask before you buy anything anywhere, in any kind of store or fast food place or regular restaurant, because many of these discounts are not advertised.”

▪ Beware of thieves: “Most likely you aren’t going to catch a thief in the act. Instead, deter thieves from stealing your possessions with this great invention called the lock. Use it. Lock your front door. Lock up your bike. Lock your windows. Lock your car. … You can even lock your laptop.”