These surprise college costs could leave you $3,000 short this year

Personal Finance

It’s never too early to establish some guardrails for your child’s spending. Draw up a budget for the school year, and get to know the real cost of attending school.

“Do you want to live well at college at the expense of living well after college?” asked Goldrick-Rab.

Go beyond the school’s estimates: Think about the cost of seeing an out-of-network doctor while away at college. Factor in the cost of maintaining your car if you have one. Every cent counts. “Even the estimated cost of books — you should double it to get a sense of what the books cost,” said Goldrick-Rab.

Seek part-time employment where possible: “This is another reason why it’s so important to have a part-time job while you’re in college,” said Sophia Bera, a certified financial planner and founder of Gen Y Planning. “If you want to take advantage of participating in extracurricular activities, there are fees that people don’t think about.”

Track your expenses: Life after college will require you to keep a close eye on every dollar that’s coming in and going out. Maintain a book in which you detail every single thing you spend money on, said Bera.

“Many people say they can’t save $25 or $50 a month, and then they realize they’re already spending $25 a month on soda from the vending machine on campus,” she said.

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