If you have kids that are heading to college for the start of a new school year, you probably already know it isn’t going to be cheap. Hopefully you’ve already planned for the big, obvious expenses like tuition, books and housing.
While you’re focused on those main expenses, don’t forget about some other small off-the-radar costs that can add up quickly. Here are three examples:
1. Gas: If your kid is taking a car to school, make sure you have a good idea of their gas budget. Will they be driving it often or just on weekends? Once you can get a decent idea of how much they’ll use the car, you’ll be ready to make out a monthly gas budget. Remember, it might take you a few months to get it right, so be patient.
2. Transportation: If your kid doesn’t have a car, then gas won’t be a problem—but transportation will. Will they be coming home for Thanksgiving? Christmas? Every other weekend? Don’t let a $50 filled-up gas tank catch you off guard. Make a plan with your student and prepare for those trips in the budget.
3. Food: You already know about the meal plan, but what about late-night snacks in the dorm or the occasional dinner out with friends? Food expenses add up quickly. If your kid is on the meal plan, you might want to add a little extra to the food budget to allow for some of these “unexpected” costs.
Don’t let gas, transportation or food costs sneak up on you. Also, be sure to look for other expenses that sneak up on you once your kid is away at college and into the daily routine.
Plan for the unexpected as much as you can, and your budget will be thankful!