Encouraging your children to become financially independent doesn’t have to be a chore. Help them imagine a world where there are some freedoms, but mainly more control over their lives.
Instead of “kicking them out” when they are 18, leave them with a sense that you are setting them free to do great things. Help them the first few years too, but teach them how to get what they want at a reasonable cost.
Cut the Cord
Chances are that your child is not holding down a $30-40,000 per year job, so cable may not be the best idea. For one small fee, you can get a digital antenna, which will broadcast basic cable channels, and there are a lot more today than the 2,4,5,7,9 and 13 of your heyday.
Other options include streaming movies, which is cheaper and more legal than you think. For starters, you can get Netflix for free as a trial anyway, and some sites stream shows live. Looking for sports broadcasts? They are happening at the student union, in an environment that is safe and will help your kids to find more buddies.
Campus Health Services
New laws now allow children living at home to stay on a parent’s health plan until 26, but for those in dorms and living abroad campus health services are often much more affordable. For anything non-life threatening, the student health center is the place to be. If your child uses any form of birth control, it’s usually available for free or at low cost. Physicals can also be done there, and doctors can prescribe medication for common illnesses.
It’s not a full-service hospital, but it will help your children get some of the care they need away from home.
You would be surprised at not just the amount of free and low-cost food available, but the quality of entertainment at on-campus events. But some schools continually attract duds. In a lot of cases, says Steven Kent of Daily Finance, a campus will spend money on bands and acts that it knows. So if your potential student wants more variety or better events, start petitions for them. It will bring the bands they know to their schools and improve the quality of on-campus events for no extra charge.
Change Shopping Behavior
You can save a lot of money at the grocery store if you don’t shop when you’re hungry. Consider eating out less and cooking at home more often, and teach children to cook for groups (it’s much easier to cook for multiple people). When students do eat out, teach them to look critically at a menu and get the most food for their buck. Try to make a fun competition out of who can get the most food for less than $5.
The art of coupon clipping can help students stock pile supplies for months where money isn’t so plentiful. There are a variety of coupon websites online, in addition to the newspaper. Take some of the extra cash saved from clipping, and apply it to the next tip.
Teaching children how to save and how to cut corners in spending will give them a lot more money to play with, especially if they get a part-time job. Some of that money should go toward a savings account, which is always the hardest part of teaching good financial planning. Getting kids to accept that there are reasons to save. One method of motivation is to be open about the bills you pay, and how much money you are responsible for managing each month. It’s hard being open with your kids about this kind of stuff, but the benefits of showing them how it’s done will far outweigh some of the risks.