Why High School Students Should Start Saving for College Now: It’s the Little Things

Flickr user OTA Photos

Flickr user OTA Photos

High school students are constantly told that they should be saving their money for college, but they often don’t fully understand why. Sure, there are the obvious expenses such as tuition, books, and housing but those are just a few big ticket items that they are aware of. However, there a lot of smaller expenses that can add up from week to week that can actually end up costing a significant amount of cash.

Laundry and Parking

SAVE ALL OF THE QUARTERS. In high school, it’s easy to scrape up spare change and use it for a sandwich at McDonald’s but in college, each quarter is extremely precious. Laundry can be as expensive as $5.00 to load to wash and dry. If you don’t have enough change stock piled, you may find yourself taking a $20 bill across the street to the gas station and receiving dirty looks from the employees for taking their entire roll of quarters. Parking meters often require quarters as well. If you plan on driving to class or activities, you’re definitely going need a stash of quarters in your center console or risk getting slapped with parking violation. Start saving all of your quarters NOW and you’ll be able to avoid these frustrating situations.

Apartment Expenses

Moving out of the dorms and into an apartment comes with a lot of additional expenses aside from rent and utilities. I always find that the first few weeks of school drain my bank account and a lot of it has to do with buying random things for my apartment. These random things include, but are not limited to: kitchen appliances, toilet brushes, command strips, décor, Tupperware, cable cords, furniture and the list goes on and on. While this list does get a little shorter each year, things still break and roommates (and their apartment contributions) change. It is always good to go into the school year with a little more cash to make sure you have everything your apartment needs.

Fun!

While there are plenty of ways to have fun in college for free, there are also a lot of fun things that DO cost money.  Going out to eat with friends, shopping, concerts, karaoke night, sporting events and, of course, the occasional Ben and Jerry’s on a week night are just a few examples of things you can miss out on if you don’t feel comfortable spending money on them. Having fun, meeting new people and making memories are a part of the college experience. You don’t want to miss out!

Groceries, Toiletries, Clothing

Grocery shopping is hard, especially when you first start out. When you go off your meal plan and have to plan and fix your own meals on a tight budget, things can get interesting. A lot of the time, groceries end up costing more money than anticipated and if you don’t shop smart, you may only get enough food for a week and have to keep going back. In addition to groceries, you’re going to need to eventually need new clothes (yay, shopping!) and have to regularly restock on shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, deodorant and any other toiletries that you use on a daily basis. These will probably be your most regular and necessary expenses, so it is wise to have a budget created and money set aside to avoid sacrificing food, clothing and soap.

Car Trouble and Gas

If you take a car to college, it is always a good idea to anticipate the cost of something going wrong. Over the course of the past three years, I have had to get three oil changes, have a tire axle fixed and then I ended up buying a whole new car. If driving is your main mode of transportation, it’s important to keep it fueled up and in good shape which can get very expensive very fast.

Surely, there are more random expenses that can pop up throughout college that are not listed here, but these are all very common examples that college students encounter. For tips on how to save money for college, read about “How High School Students can Start Saving Money for College.”

Want to see what kind of financial aid you might receive from different colleges? Use our college match tool to find out!

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