First Fidelity Bank offers tips to prepare for upcoming college expenses
Tuition not the only cost in college; budget for additional costs often overlooked
As the start of the school year approaches, the cost of college is a concern for many families. It comes as no surprise that tuition costs continue to increase. The average spending on college for the 2013 academic year was $21,178 and the use of college savings plans increased to its highest level ever, as reported by Daily Finance and Sallie Mae respectively. The price of college can differ from what you had initially envisioned. Additional costs, like school supplies and electronic repairs, shouldn’t be overlooked.
“The cost of college is rarely as straightforward as it seems,” said Suzanne Symcox, executive vice president for First Fidelity Bank in Oklahoma. “Setting aside funds for unexpected expenses is the best way to avoid a financial set back.”
First Fidelity Bank points out some items that should be included when preparing college finances and ways to lower those costs.
Look for cheaper options when purchasing books and school supplies. The price of college text books can be surprisingly high. A good rule of thumb is to start looking early and buy used books. There are a limited amount of used books available so be sure to carve out time as soon as you know the required reading materials for the class and look for the best price. You can also find used books on sites like Amazon and eBay. The best way to save when purchasing school supplies is to wait until you know exactly what you will need for each class. Consider shopping with a group of friends to take advantage of deals such as two for the price of one or the opportunity to buy items in bulk for a lower price.
Buy food in bulk. College life requires many adjustments, including meal choices. Fast food and eating out is quick and convenient, but it adds up tremendously. Even $5 on lunch and dinner each day of the week adds up to more than $280 a month. Buying food monthly in bulk, cooking at home and using coupons help students save where it counts.
Factor laptop costs into budget. As much as we’d like to think laptops stay fully functioning forever, repairs and replacements are inevitable. Laptops are a big investment and you’ll want to make sure you get the most out of your purchase. Look into warranty and insurance options. Many times, insurance plans can provide a replacement if your laptop gets damaged or will cover the cost of necessary repairs. Additionally, look into payment plans to break up the bulky cost. Right before school starts is a great time to find deals and discounts on laptops. Retailers look for any opportunity to increase electronic sales and the end of summer is one of the most popular selling seasons.
Plan ahead for transportation and traveling costs. If you’ve brought a car to college, consider walking and using alternative transportation on campus and throughout the surrounding area such as bikes or campus buses. Then, use the money you’ve saved on gas and put it toward the cost of a trip home. Carpool with friends as much as possible to cut down on gas and paid parking. No matter the distance, traveling home is an additional, often overlooked cost. If you need to purchase a plane ticket to get home for the holidays, buy it months in advance if you can. Holidays are not only the busiest times for traveling; they are also the most expensive.
Utilize student discounts for weekend activities. Work out a budget that is easy to stick to during the week so you have extra funds to spend on activities and events on the weekends. Allow yourself an “entertainment and fun” budget for things like weekend trips, movies or dinner with friends. Look for group and student discounts when you plan your weekend activities to make them more affordable. Most restaurants, movie theaters, concerts and even sporting events have student discounts and rates ideal for a college budget.
About First Fidelity Bank
First Fidelity Bank, N.A., is a locally owned full-service community bank established in 1920. As a family-owned, nationally chartered financial institution, the bank has 28 offices serving the Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Phoenix and Scottsdale, Ariz. markets. With total assets of more than $1.3 billion, First Fidelity provides commercial and retail banking, investment and trust services, mortgage origination and merchant services. For more information, visit www.ffb.com.