spending money in college

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-1998
spending money in college
13
Wed, 04-24-2013 - 2:16pm

Our oldest is leaving for college in August, so we're new to the whole thing, and since it has been decades since DH and I graduated, we have no clue how much spending money she'll need to earn this summer. She doesn't have a job yet and is looking at a couple of options, including non-profits, so I have a feeling we will need to supplement, at least for the first year.

So approx how much will she need? Anyone care to give a ballpark on how much their kid spends per year?

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Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Wed, 04-24-2013 - 2:43pm

Wonderful question Ash, I was wondering the same thing.

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Registered: 07-24-1997
Wed, 04-24-2013 - 4:14pm

When I went to college, I got $40 a week from either my job or my parents.  I spent it all on alcohol, but that's another story, LOL.

DS spends *very* little money - less than $100 a month.  His college is in a small city (really not more than a large town), and his entertainment is almost all on campus and either free or very low-cost.  His food was entirely paid for so no need to supplement that.  He doesn't spend his money on drugs or alcohol, so his spending money is mostly used for the occasional off-campus entertainment, crafts, clothing, and gifts.

DD however will be going to university in NYC in the fall.  While we are paying all her school expenses, including food, and many of her entertainment expenses will be included in her education (she's a music ed major), I know her expenses are going to be much higher.  She'll be earning $1600 at her summer job, which will give her about $200 a month to spend.  In NYC that's not much.  I expect we'll supplement that by buying some of her clothes, taking her to events ourselves (we live only an hour away and are often in NYC), etc.  On the one hand, I don't want her to view us as a free trip to Disneyland, on the other, it's NYC and she should enjoy what it has to offer.  I don't want her passing up experiences because she's too afraid to spend money, as DS sometimes does.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Wed, 04-24-2013 - 9:04pm

Very subjective.  DS has worked year round since he was 15, now about 10-15 hours/week while in college, at a mere $8/50/hr.  It pays for his gas and fun money and his books (for him to have a stake in it); we pay for room/board and college/fees.  It seems enough for him to live on (finishing jr year).  He never manages to save much over the summer so it's up to him to manage his finances to make it through the year. 

Sue

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-12-1998
Thu, 04-25-2013 - 1:09pm
Our son used his savings, but we made him hand it over to us and we put a weekly amount in his account each week. It would have all been gone otherwise, in very short order. We gave him $35 one week, and $40 the next to cover laundry. We also told him we didn't want to see cash withdrawals :) He did do some cash withdrawals, but not many. I bet 90% of his money went to restaurants. Oh, I'm sure he paid for some others dinner for cash, but oh well. This summer, he won't be able to earn as much due to summer school, so we will have to be paying mostly ourselves his sophomore year.
Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Thu, 04-25-2013 - 2:58pm
For those of you with girls, do you consider personal care products in there also, or do you tend to slip those in care packages that you send? For us, I think we have the unique situation that she is on an athletic team and they have a certain amount set aside that is available to use each day for water/sports drinks/snacks at the work out center and study center and they are given a ton of athletic gear to wear, so she's already determined she'll be living mostly in athletic gear. Personal care products and coffee is about the only thing I can see her spending tons on. And I know the first semester won't be as bad, but the second semester when the team is traveling a lot, they also do some sightseeing while at different locations for competitions, so I think it'll be a little more spending heavy.
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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-1998
Thu, 04-25-2013 - 4:07pm

My daughter isn't much of a saver, either, and it appears she's not alone.  She doesn't drink except for an occasional glass of wine (like Mahopac, I also spent my money on beer in college), but she does love interesting food, so I can see her splurging once in a while on weekends. Those personal care products are expensive, so I think we need to add those in as well. And she'll be close to public transportation, so I can see trips into Boston adding up. And she also hands out money often, so we'll have to have a discussion about appropriate giving to panhandlers if she's going to be riding the T into Boston on weekends.  I guess going to school in the boonies would have been cheaper. Bye bye, retirement....

Do you guys just do a bank account with a debit card or a stored value card (she has one of those now, but I'm thinking of cancelling it because the fees are high) or some other thing?

Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Thu, 04-25-2013 - 4:39pm
Jordyn has her own debit card that is for her checking account, and she has a savings account through the same bank that isn't linked to the debit card. She also has a savings account my grandmother set up for her that my parents and grandmother have been contributing to regularly and we need to decide what to do with that one, I am tempted to just leave that and figure out what to do if she needs to access it for some reason while at college, but I am hoping she doesn't. I can transfer funds into her account from ours at any time, and her dad has told us that once he stops paying child support, he is still going to send money to help out with college and we are trying to decide what to do with that money. What are everyone's thoughts on a credit card, whether its secured or not? While she has her debit card, I am wondering if since she is going to be so far from home, and she will be traveling with the team, if having one with a very low limit would be something to do as a back up? Her and I have discussed often being very careful and conscientious with credit, but I still wonder if its a good idea to have one as a back up so far away from home.
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Registered: 07-24-1997
Thu, 04-25-2013 - 4:50pm

I loaded my older one up with enough personal care products for the semester, because (a) they're expensive and (b) it would be inconvenient for him to go buy them.  With DD there's less need to do that - NYU doesn't have a campus and there are drugstores all over the place where the stuff is cheaper than where we live.

The kids' savings accounts are linked to mine, and they can use their debit cards for either cash withdrawals or POS purchases (I encourage cash withdrawals so they know what they're spending).  I can also see how much they're taking out. 

And, we all use DH's Amazon Prime account, which has free shipping, for everything from ear plugs to books to clothing.  Both the older ones have access to that account.  They also know my Amex card number for other things.  It sounds like we spoil them dreadfully, but actually we do this because they are so darn frugal that we know they won't abuse it.  I am thinking that with DD in NYC we might have to actually add her to a credit card because I don't want her swiping her debit card in order to buy her instrument supplies (e.g. a set of strings runs $150 and it will be easier for her to buy them in NYC than to get them online).

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-1998
Fri, 04-26-2013 - 4:24pm

I think I would have a backup credit card in that situation. You don't want her to be caught short when she is on a road trip and needs to pay for dinner or a hotel.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-13-1999
Fri, 04-26-2013 - 6:33pm

For their first year, neither girl spent a lot of money.  They were both on meal plans and didn't have expensive needs beyond that.  We set them up with local checking accounts and gave them access to our credit card for emergencies.  After the first year, both girls had jobs and were (mostly) careful about using their own money for food and fun and frankly, they didn't do a lot of spending beyond that.  They used our Amazon Prime account for books.  My eldest took advantage of the city and its food/entertainment offerings a lot from her second year onward, mostly food.  The school subsidized a lot of the entertainment and she was able to get into museums and other attractions free everywhere.  My middle dd had a lot of subsidized travel into the city near her campus but definitely spent money on travel to/from and on eating out.  College food, no matter how good, gets tiresome after a year.

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