Budget for Back to School Like a Pro – 5 Tips for Students and Parents

It happens every year. The last three weeks of August brings out the latest in fashion, knapsacks, binders and highlighters. But this year, it’s a little different for me and my wife. While we still need to deal with the above for three of our children, our eldest will be heading off to his first year of university.

We’re proud of him – but we’re also looking forward to dropping him off at his residence before the Labour Day weekend. University fees have already started to come out of our bank account so our new financial reality has set in. But higher education doesn’t have to result in higher blood pressure. Here are a few ways that parents and their children can work together to help minimize upcoming school costs.

1. Is it a need or a want? – I want an F-150 Pickup Truck. My wife argues that I don’t need an F-150 Pickup Truck. The quality knapsack that you bought last year is probably still very functional. If the straps are good, the zipper still works and there are no holes in it; make do.

2. Fuel – Reduce that carbon footprint! If your son or daughter can walk, ride their bike or take the bus to school, that’s preferable to giving or lending them a car. This will help save both your wallet and the environment. My dad walked two miles to school “up hill, both ways, everyday!”

3. Stationary – Waiting a couple of weeks into September before buying the needed stationary will usually result in some savings as stores will be looking to clean out inventory by then. The big box stores are your best bet for these deals.

4. Two bank accounts – Have your college or university-bound child get two bank accounts. One account will be for essentials like rent, food, books and tuition and the other will be for entertainment and holidays. Split the money in the accounts according to your budget.

5. Pay your credit card on time – Long ago, I remember getting my very first credit card while a first year university student (if you had a pulse, CIBC was willing to give you a card). My credit limit was only $500 but it was a good lesson on how important it is to pay it on time, so as to establish a good credit rating and not pay any non-deductible interest costs.

Whatever your budgeting plan is, the key is to work with your kids to make them part of the process. This will help reinforce good financial habits, and keep you on track with your financial goals.

Terry Willis has almost 20 years’ experience in financial services, with particular expertise in working with professional athletes. He understands that the earnings potential of most athletes is often short-lived, and helps young athletes put financial plans in place from their earliest money-earning playing days. Terry provides these players with ongoing financial counsel right through their sports careers and into post-retirement careers.

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These articles are for general informational purposes only. Please obtain professional advice before taking any action based on this information. No endorsement or approval of any third parties or their advice, information, products or services should be implied by any references to third parties contained in any article. Trademarks cited in these articles are the respective properties of their owners.

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