January can be expensive for college students. A new academic term often means paying for travel back to school, tuition and fees, books and supplies, and room and board. Add leftover holiday bills and January spending can quickly get out of control.
How to best resolve all this without jeopardizing progress toward graduation? These are big, intertwined tasks, so your student may need guidance from you, her parents, or even a skilled money management professional.
Linda Matthew, an experienced Accredited Financial Counselor with Money Mindful Personal Financial Coaching, endorses a four-point approach.
(1) Your student should confirm exactly how much she owes and when payments are due using her records, including credit card and other receipts, to make a list of these.
(2) Urge her to prepare to pay her outstanding debts and soon-to-be expenses by writing out a spending plan for the first quarter of 2018.
This plan should include your student’s school-related costs. If she must pay 100% of these by a certain date to enroll and succeed in classes, she needs to pay them by that date even if doing so means spreading other payments over the next two or three months.
But payment may not be required on every institutional charge as the term begins. Some colleges offer payment plans that delay one or more installments until later in the term, freeing up funds for other January expenses. Some also offer short-term tuition loans. However, these usually require extra fees so she should take those costs into consideration.
Your student may also want to investigate refinancing her credit card debt. Doing so could reduce her interest and even postpone a payment on her new card’s balance.
(3) If your student ended up dealing with unexpected January expenses because she didn’t plan for this past Christmas, it’s absolutely critical that she begin saving for next holiday season as part of her spending plan. No sense in courting another problem in another 12 months.
(4) If extra income’s needed, suggest your student search out a short-term, part-time job if she’s not already working. Another way to raise money is to file for her federal tax refund ASAP. The IRS issues 90% of tax refunds within 21 days of receiving 1040 forms.
The holidays are over, but advice about managing expenses is one of the best gifts your student will ever receive!
To contact Linda Matthew at Money Mindful Personal Financial Coaching for help resolving your financial issues, call Linda at (530) 220-3369 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have questions for College Affordability Solutions? Call (512) 366-5354 or email email@example.com.