Guest Author Bio: Monique loves to blog, and writes about thrifty living and product reviews on her site : Stretching the One Income Dollar.
Building a college finance fund takes dedication and consistency. If your child has their eye on an out of state or private school and online college courses are out of the picture, using part of the money that is already earned is one way to not take up a second job and make higher education a viable option. When your children are college age, they can always get a private student loan. But those can saddle your children with debt for 20 years or more! Here are 5 ways to trim your budget for your child’s college funds.
Know Your Actual Budget
Knowing exactly how much income is going out towards bills, unplanned expenses, and splurges is the first step in saving for a college fund. Look up the last three months receipts, ATM receipts, and bank records. This should help give a clear picture of how much money is received and spent. It will be easy to spot habits or spending patterns.
Create a hand written budget and make several copies. Place these copies in the home office and make them readily available for review at any time. Make sure the budget includes some money for things that help make life enjoyable.
Going to the movies, having drinks with friends, or going to paid sporting events can be expensive. Planning how often to go out, and how much money will be spent is important. Many friends may be willing to split the cost of a bottle of wine, or make homemade margaritas instead of going out. Cutting down the number of expensive entertainment outings can help stay within the entertainment budget. Start to look through local newspapers and online local publications to find outings that offer a great value. Examples of this are going to happy hour with half priced appetizers or attending an affordable dance class instead of paying a club cover charge.
Use coupons, children eat free specials, and discounted restaurant gift certificates to save on meals. Look at the pattern of how money was spent in prior months eating out. If eating out two to three times a week costs the family one hundred dollars, become ruthless at reducing that amount in half. Convenience meals picked up at a local super market is often a third of the price of eating out.
Actively choose to not buy anything that can be borrowed. Rent books, books on tape, movies, and read magazines at the library. Ask friends or neighbors if there is a specific item that only needs to be used once. Examples of this are finding an outfit for a wedding, lawn equipment, or a food processor for preparing meals for a large family gathering. There may be a friend, co worker, neighbor, or family member that has this item collecting dust in their closet. Most people have no problem lending these items they are not using.
Pay close attention to how much money is spent daily on small purchases. This could be from eating breakfast or having multiple coffees throughout the day. Making the first coffee of the day at home and taking it to work in an insulated cup can easily save three to four dollars a day. Order smaller coffee drinks or plain coffee instead of flavored tea or coffee.
It will take some personal effort to increase monthly savings. Write down the budgeted amount and how much was actually spent to stay motivated. Use the above 5 ways to trim your budget for your child’s college fund.