So your college student has a cash flow problem. Not surprising, especially if she is now responsible for tuition and fees. You want to help, but how?
While college years aren’t likely to be the highest-earning period of your student’s life, they don’t have to be a financial bloodbath, either. With a little thought and planning, anyone can manage to generate a little extra cash.
For starters, there’s a part-time job. Focus on employers that cater to students’ schedules: restaurants, bookstores, coffee shops, and retail stores are just a few examples.
Another possibility is a side business. Is she a science whiz? Then she can tutor some of her physics-challenged classmates. Does she play a musical instrument? Then she can give lessons. Does she have random books, CDs, DVDs, and old clothes collecting dust? Help her set up an eBay account and start selling.
Your scholar can also make money by saving money. All those dinners out, concerts, and shopping trips add up — and some belt-tightening may be in order. But frugality can also mean creativity.
Instead of lavish dinners every weekend with her friends, suggest that she get everyone together for a potluck. Add a little music from an iTunes playlist, and she’ll have all the ambience she needs.
If she can’t make it to class in the morning without a cup or three of coffee, give her the gift that keeps on giving — a coffee maker. Investing in a $35 coffeepot now will save her hundreds of dollars — or more — in lattes from Starbucks.
Are you are dealing with a fashionista who thrives on weekly trips to the mall? Suggest the “One Day Later” idea. If she finds something she absolutely can’t live without during a shopping excursion, try leaving the item at the store for just one more day. If she wakes up the next morning and still feels like she can’t live without it, go back and pick it up.
Once the extra money starts rolling in, help her with the most important element: SAVINGS!
Start by getting her in the savings habit. Even in tiny increments, the contents of a savings account will start adding up if it’s fed regularly. If she doesn’t already have a savings account, go with her to the bank and open one. From that moment, she should drop a regular amount — even if it’s just a few dollars — into savings each week. Make it a routine. If she goes to the bank to cash a check, she can do it then. If she banks online, help her set up an automatic transfer several times each month. The important part is to make it a habit, something she doesn’t have to think about. Before long, she won’t even miss the money.
The Bottom Line: College students don’t have to save as much as Bill Gates to make a difference in their coffers. A barista gig here, some CDs resold there, a potluck on the weekends — it all adds up. So why wait until your kid graduates? Help her start saving today.