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Bottom Line Up Front

  • Creating a budget will help your student spend wisely.
  • Find a student-friendly checking account that works for your child—smart habits start now.
  • Encourage your student to use your financial institution’s mobile app* to track spending, set alerts and more.

Time to Read

3 minutes

April 27, 2022

In all the excitement that comes with the 4-year college experience, many students don’t realize it’s more than paying tuition, studying and having fun. In fact, it comes with all sorts of new responsibilities, including managing their finances for the first time. So, when it’s time to head off to college as a full-time student, remember these 4 smart tips for staying in control of spending power.

  1. Practice budgeting. The average student is likely to have a fairly fixed income and predictable personal expenses. This makes it easy to practice the basics of budgeting by learning how to create a simple spreadsheet consisting of sources of income and expected expenses for their academic year. This way, they’ll know the exact amount of money they’ll have left over after the necessities are paid, including personal care. While you’re at it, suggest that your student opens a basic savings account and put away a small amount every month for expenses, such as additional course materials, school supplies and even transportation costs. Setting money aside is important to achieving financial goals.

    Having a firm understanding of budgeting will be especially important for students who receive financial aid through a student loan to help with both living expenses and textbooks. A large sum of money can present a lot of temptation for discretionary spending, but learning how to pace spending habits will ensure the funds last until the end of their college education.
  2. Set guardrails on spending. Avoid end-of-semester calls for more money by suggesting your student use a prepaid card for entertainment or “fun” money. It’s not a line of credit, so it won’t impact their credit rating. With Navy Federal’s GO Prepaid card, they can load money onto the card each month or semester, track spending with the mobile app* and even get cash at the ATM. Like magic, there’s no busted budget.
  3. Go mobile. The average college student spends a lot of time on video games, social media and gadgets like cell phones, so why not look at all the great apps and calculators available for money management, especially from financial institutions like Navy Federal? These apps and calculators have budgeting tools and alerts that make tracking spending a breeze, making them perfect for college student budgets.
  4. Eat in, not out. With the rise in food costs, preparing meals on campus can be key to keeping on track with a budget. Eating out regularly is one of the best ways for college students to create bad spending habits, so encourage them to stay focused, stick to a meal plan and cook healthy and nutritious meals in their apartment or dorm. 

Key Takeaways Key Takeaways


This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.