How Parents Can Save Money with a Child in College

These money-saving tips can help ease the burden of the tuition bill.

By Anne Vaccaro Brady

saving and spending

(Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)

With your college freshman now settled in on campus, and the sticker shock of that first tuition bill behind you, now it’s time to start focusing on one of the positives of this whole experience—money savings. You might even be able to put away a little extra toward that next tuition payment now.

The givens: Some savings jump right out you.

A cheaper water bill With one less shower and X number of loads of laundry each week, you will definitely save a few dollars here.

Less fill-ups Now that someone won’t be using your car or you won’t be driving that someone to school, activities, a friend’s house or the mall, you can visit the gas station less frequently. With the price of gas, that savings can add up quickly.

Electricity Your freshman took their computer, cell phone and/or iPad to campus along with the chargers for all that hardware. If your house is like mine, those chargers were working every day. They won’t be humming for the next few months, and neither will your electric meter.

Fees Of course you’re going to miss watching your child at their sporting events, dance recitals, band competitions and other extra-curriculars. But there’s an upside: You won’t be paying for dance classes or music lessons, private coaches, and all of the shoes and equipment for each of those activities. You also save on the cases of water, soda, snacks and paper goods you won’t have to donate anymore.

The not so obvious: You can save in some unexpected places.

Car insurance If your freshman didn’t take their car to campus and is attending a college at least 100 miles from your home, you can reap a big savings by informing your car insurance company and listing your child as an occasional driver. We’re talking hundreds of dollars!

The food bill No need to keep your freshman’s favorite foods and snacks on hand when they won’t be home to eat them for at least a couple of months. Even if you have other kids at home, you can cut down on the amount of lunchmeat, cereal, milk, bread, etc. you buy every week. Make some adjustments to your grocery list and watch your food bill actually go down.

English: A power strip used to turn off power ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pull the cord After my kids left for college, I turned off the power strips in their rooms, and unplugged the alarm clock, stereos and anything else that flashed. Video game consoles and TVs can be disconnected, too. Some electronic devices, even though they’re technically not on, still use energy.

Return to basic cable Think about whether your household spends enough time watching all those sports and movie channels in that expensive package you pay for every month. If they don’t, downgrade your service; you can always upgrade again for the summer months or add a lower-cost streaming service if you want to watch movies.

Dinner for one—less You don’t have to stop eating out, but if you want to notice savings, go to the same restaurants you frequented with your freshman and enjoy paying for one less meal.

Cut the heat and the AC Close the heating and air-conditioning vents in your child’s room and the door, too. One less room to heat or cool reduces the time your system needs to run and your utility bill as well. Remember to reopen the vents at least a few hours before your freshman returns.

Cleaning up If you pay someone to clean your house and your nest is now empty, consider changing your schedule from once a week to twice a month. Without your son or daughter and all their friends coming in and out all day and night, your home will stay neater and cleaner.  Your place might even start to look like adults live there.

Most importantly Make sure you actually put away this money you’re saving to ease the financial burden of college on your family.

If you’ve found savings in some unexpected places, please share in the comments section below.

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One Response to How Parents Can Save Money with a Child in College

  1. Anne, these are potentially real savings that do take the sting out of college tuition – somewhat. Great idea to list them here.

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