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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iVillage Member
Registered: 01-27-1999
Sat, 05-18-2013 - 9:11pm
Most kids will spend what they have. They also spend your money more easily than their own. D works summers to pay for her books (her skin in the game). Her major has expensive texts, so she needs 2K from her summer job in the bank when school starts. I have no idea what she spends per month on sundries because she earns her own money. First year, she worked 4-6 hours a week, minimum wage, and it was enough. Like others, we would take her shopping on breaks and stock up on things we knew she needed.
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-23-2003
Fri, 05-03-2013 - 6:38pm

I transferred $100 each month into DD's checking account.  She had a savings account with nearly $1000 in it when the school year began last summer.  We bought her toiletries, snacks, beverages, etc.,  when we visited, I dunno what else.  And she had a 12 meals a week plan plus several hundred extra bucks on that plan.  She got a few tattoos and piercings.  She paid for her gas (she lived on campus so we figured she shouldn't have too much expense there.  Ha! ) When I looked at the bank statement, it seemed she was always eating out. It also seemed she was always buying clothes, whch was proven to me when I did her laundry yesterday to get her ready to go back in 10 days. 

Well, to make a long story short, as the school year ended 2 days ago, her checking account is overdrawn -$6.77 and the savings account has $4.00. I calculated her spending at slightly over $200 a month. She didn't work this first year, which was fine. But now that she's acclimated, we let her know she will have to get a job to help out wth this education endeavor if she plans to keep her current spending levels. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-22-1999
Sat, 04-27-2013 - 12:18pm

We did not give DD any allowance.  Fortunately, she had earned several academic scholarships, and this year (freshman) we have been able to afford to pay the rest of board and tuition that wasn't covered.  We also paid books and fees.  So, she was on her own for expenses.  It mostly consisted of laundry, gas, and entertainment.  I know she went to the movies, laser tag, etc., and out to eat a bit.  But she's pretty frugal, and as far as I know, she's managed ok.  She also would get some groceries for making smoothies and chex mix.  :^)  Her meal plan covered 15 meals (swipes) per week.  Since she came home a lot first semester, that worked fine.  She didn't come home as much second semester, so she had to stretch it a bit.  Oh, there were also flex dollars, so she just had to plan when to use flex and when to use swipes.  We did fill her gas tank many of the times she came home since that was about the only time she used her car.  This semester she has a class at the zoo and is volunteering at a horse farm, so she is driving a bit more. 

As far as public transportation goes, keep in mind that many universities include riding on the local city bus system for free.  So that may not be an added expense that students experience.

She did not work during the school year, but she did work over Christmas Break, Spring Break and summer.

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.

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.

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
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).

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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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 - 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: 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.

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