The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 02-23-2010, 10:14 AM
SanDiegoTim SanDiegoTim is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 1,211
Spending Money for College Kids - How much?

I realize there is no one answer to this question, but ideas/thoughts apprciated.

Our son is off to college in August. Like all Freshmen, he'll be staying in a dorm and we've signed him up for a more-than-adequate food plan. He won't have a car as they are prohibited for Freshmen. The school, Northern Arizona University, is in Flagstaff, which is not as expensive as cities like New Yourk, DC or Chicago.

All this said, I'd appreciate any thoughts/ideas on how much I should provide him for "spending" money. I was thinking somewhere in the range of $150.00 per month, Too much? Too little?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 02-23-2010, 10:18 AM
Omar Little Omar Little is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Too little. You're talking about $5 a day. If your kid is going to have any type of social life, he will need more than $5 a day.

Is he going to have a summer job this summer to save up spending money for himself?
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 02-23-2010, 10:18 AM
BetsQ BetsQ is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
I'm pretty sure my parents gave me $0. The expectation was that I would save money over the summers and/or work part time on campus. I'd be inclined to take the same approach with my kids.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 02-23-2010, 10:35 AM
Picard Kills Kirk Picard Kills Kirk is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
If I remember correctly, after all my bills (insurance, cell phone, etc.) I think I had about 150-200/month leftover for spending money, but things like gas, ink cartridges, and general school supplies also came out of it. I had an unlimited meal plan that was almost 24/7. While it wasn't enough money to go partying every night, I still managed to have fun on the weekends. If his first semester is anything like mine was though, he won't have much time for partying if he wants to make decent grades.

Maybe you could start him off low and tell him to let you know if he needs more? Or perhaps you could set up a joint bank account that you feed money into, so you could track whether your monthly supply is going to "Al's Wine and Spirits" or if he is actually using it on real needs. Of course he could just go to the ATM, but it would be worth a shot.

Last edited by Picard Kills Kirk; 02-23-2010 at 10:37 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 02-23-2010, 10:58 AM
elbows elbows is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: London, Ontario
Posts: 8,803
Have you considered basing it on how much he himself manages to save from his summer wages?

Of course, you'd have to be aware of what he was making (net) at the summer job, and come to a reasonable amount, of that, you feel he could save. Add up the total amount you expect him to take away to college (of his wages) and decide if you need to top it up and by about how much.

Then, make it clear, if he doesn't make your conservative target for his saving, your top up will be minimal. Should he exceed your target, your top up will be more generous. There is no better lesson he could learn, during these years, than how to save money.

Once graduated, in the mainstream workforce, earning a good salary, is no time to try and convince someone they need to understand about saving.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 02-23-2010, 11:00 AM
Ruken Ruken is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: DC
Posts: 2,485
It depends a bit on the school. There was unending free entertainment at my school. Occasionally I'd go see a movie or out for dinner, so less than $10/week? This was less than 10 years ago. My parents often asked if I needed money (they preferred I not work, although I did a little bit), but I never needed it.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 02-23-2010, 11:01 AM
SanDiegoTim SanDiegoTim is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 1,211
The summer employment savings is a good one. Certainly worth a try, but jobs are really tough to find right now. He's looking, but no success thus far.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 02-23-2010, 11:01 AM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
What bills are you turning over to him (cell phone?). What fees and such won't be covered by tutition that you won't cover? What sort of income does he have independent of his parents allowance.

$5 a day was difficult even for me (I'm very frugal) twenty five years ago. I ended up working part time as well. You don't want to make it impossible to live, but you do want to keep it frugal. And personally, I think a college kids "social" expense should not be funded by mom and dad. Get a job, sell your plasma, figure out a way to budget.
__________________
One day, in Teletubbie land, it was Tinkie Winkie's turn to wear the skirt.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 02-23-2010, 11:01 AM
atomicbadgerrace atomicbadgerrace is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Picard Kills Kirk View Post
If I remember correctly, after all my bills (insurance, cell phone, etc.) I think I had about 150-200/month leftover for spending money, but things like gas, ink cartridges, and general school supplies also came out of it. I had an unlimited meal plan that was almost 24/7. While it wasn't enough money to go partying every night, I still managed to have fun on the weekends. If his first semester is anything like mine was though, he won't have much time for partying if he wants to make decent grades.
I'm inclined to agree with this response. Personally, my parents gave me $200/month my first year at college, which might seem like a lot, but when you factor in the above variables, it really doesn't leave much left for anything other than the occasional dinner and a movie night. I budgeted mine to allow for a couple weekends of fun, some school supplies (including one trip in a taxi to WalMart at 2AM because I'd found I was out of aforementioned printer ink), and the occasional clothing purchase.

For me, I'd start him somewhere around there and gauge his usage and what he's purchasing over some time. Trust me, he'll let you know if it's not enough.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 02-23-2010, 11:03 AM
ZipperJJ ZipperJJ is offline
And Finn The Human
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Northeast Ohio
Posts: 18,609
IIRC, my parents paid for my dorm and my meal plan. Everything else I paid for out of my own pocket using money I'd earned the previous summer, and credit cards I paid off with my jobs in subsequent summers.

I wasn't the most exciting of college students, tho. So this worked out just fine for me.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 02-23-2010, 11:04 AM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by SanDiegoTim View Post
The summer employment savings is a good one. Certainly worth a try, but jobs are really tough to find right now. He's looking, but no success thus far.
How about lawn mowing this summer as his own summer business? Or if you have neighbors with late elementary school/middle school age kids who need childcare, summer nanny? If a RESPONSIBLE teenage neighbor showed up at my door with a proposal to watch my kids for the summer right now - well, I've already lined up Grandma for the job, but it would be really tempting to have a teenager with access to a car - because Grandma doesn't do the waterpark as a field trip.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 02-23-2010, 11:11 AM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Springfield, IL
Posts: 17,759
Are you including textbooks and other academic expenses in "spending money"? If so, make sure he has enough for that!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wilbo523 View Post
Too little. You're talking about $5 a day. If your kid is going to have any type of social life, he will need more than $5 a day.
That depends on things like how much there is to do on and around campus that's free or cheap, and how much spending money the people he hangs around with have, and how maturally thrifty he is. It's entirely possible to have a rich and full social life on some campuses without spending much at all.

Whatever the correct number is, he should have enough money for some, but not all, of the things he wants to do or have—that's how people learn to budget, plan, save, and make choices. And I'm all for him earning some or all of his spending money himself, as long as it leaves him enough time and energy for both the academic and non-academic parts of the college experience.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 02-23-2010, 11:18 AM
Dinsdale Dinsdale is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2000
I have 3 kids in college right now in Bloomington-Normal and Champaign-Urbana, IL. We pay state school tuition, the equivalent of dorm room and meal plan, books and fees. Through age 22 we also pay for their cell phones, coverage and copays on our health insurance, vision and dental, and their coverage to be insured on our cars. And we pay for bus/train fare or gas money to and from school 2x/semester. (Yeah - they have a sweet deal. To their credit, they appreciate it.)

So they are responsible for their clothes, supplies, toiletries, and recreation. We have required that work since they turned 16. We've stressed the importance of budgeting, and not one of them budgets $100 a month. IIRC, one of them stays within a budget of $50 a month. Even I have asked him if he isn't being a little too tight. But he studies hard, seems to find plenty of opportunities to party and blow off steam, and has goals of saving his money for other purposes down the line.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 02-23-2010, 11:28 AM
purplehorseshoe purplehorseshoe is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Texas, USA
Posts: 7,706
Beware of pushing college kids - particularly newbie freshmen - into working part-time during the school year. When I was in school a couple of my friends' parents did that, and their grades really suffered as a result.

When you're in school, you have 4 options: you can work, you can study, you can sleep, and you can party. However, you can really only do 2 out of the 4 well at any given time. Maybe 2.5, max.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 02-23-2010, 11:28 AM
infinitii infinitii is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wilbo523 View Post
Too little. You're talking about $5 a day. If your kid is going to have any type of social life, he will need more than $5 a day.

Is he going to have a summer job this summer to save up spending money for himself?
I wouldn't use that kind of yardstick. I went to a place where nothing much was going on, and I didn't do many social things, but there was enough on campus to live for free for weeks at a time. Of course I didn't do that. I was able to have a car, and bought as many CDs, books, and DVDs as I wanted. My roommate, though, did not have a car and used very little money.

However, I would think about having him get a summer job. That's what I did, and saved up for each semester.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 02-23-2010, 11:30 AM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Eastern Connecticut
Posts: 15,277
I had a trust fund that paid for the tuition, food plan and school supplies [no computers at the time, but it paid my books, class supplies and any SCHOOL required supplies and field trips. It also paid for a basic wardrobe, any medication I needed during the school year glasses and so forth.]

I worked summers and after classes for any spending money i needed.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 02-23-2010, 11:30 AM
Hello Again Hello Again is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Freshman year, I was on the "full" meal plan, and got no spending money other than my savings. After that I went to a the cheapest meal plan (which basically would cover lunch and the occasionally dinner if I was feeling lazy) at great cost savings to my parents, and they gave me $125/mo for groceries.

Starting my second semester, I had a steady 10 hr/week part time job (first in the library, later working for a professor) that gave me about $40 week spending cash, and I would getoccasional gigs through the Theatre Department. I was an "outside events PA," meaning, when touring groups came through, I was "as-needed" stage hand. usually good for 2 minor $50 jobs a semester and 2 intensive but renumerative "$200" jobs a year (the Nutcracker at Christmas, and the NYC Opera in Feburary).

This was in 1993-97. There is so much stuff to do free/cheap on campus, and at least at my university, there was more house-party partying (cheap) and less going-out-to-bars partying (expensive).

ETA: for jobs before school starts, he should look into being a sleepaway summer camp counsellor. It's fun, you get in shape, its always in demand, and since you are at camp 99% of the time, you don't spend any money. It pays about 1500-2500 for the summer, and he'll take most of that with him.

Last edited by Hello Again; 02-23-2010 at 11:33 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 02-23-2010, 11:32 AM
atomicbadgerrace atomicbadgerrace is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dangerosa View Post
How about lawn mowing this summer as his own summer business? Or if you have neighbors with late elementary school/middle school age kids who need childcare, summer nanny? If a RESPONSIBLE teenage neighbor showed up at my door with a proposal to watch my kids for the summer right now - well, I've already lined up Grandma for the job, but it would be really tempting to have a teenager with access to a car - because Grandma doesn't do the waterpark as a field trip.
That's the thing about the "find a job" attitude, though. Not to harp on you or any one person in particular, but far too often the response from the galley is "tell the kid to find a job." That was hard enough years ago, and I can imagine much harder today.

A lot of parents would be "tempted" and "find it nice" to have a responsible teenage babysitter. A lot of people would love to be able to pay someone to mow their lawn. But depending on where you live, no one may be willing to pay for that kind of work out of their own pocket now. And if you find someone who is willing to fork out the cash, chances are they've already hired your competition from math class.

Actual jobs are even harder to come by for young adults, with so many actual adults taking anything opening up on the market for a while now. This is even more true of a small college town, where student jobs off campus are few and far between, and most taken on day one.

I'm not saying the kid shouldn't have a job. By all means, if time allows, go for it. My college strongly warned against freshmen carrying jobs, though, and I know that if I had a job my first year, I wouldnt've made the grades that I did. If he's able to find something over the summer, I would highly encourage him to take it, but not to rely on it to provide enough income to float through the first year at school.

If you have a theme park nearby, that's one of the few sure-shot goldmines for recently graduated kids -- at my high school, everyone graduated to theme park work for the summer before shipping off to college. And although cliches of paper routes, babysitting and lawnmowing sound like great summer jobs, depending on where you live, those simply may not be options at all.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 02-23-2010, 11:46 AM
Dinsdale Dinsdale is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2000
Everyone's experience differs. We live in the suburbs west of Chicago and while in high school and during the summers my kids were all able to obtain part-time work at the local library, Dairy Queen, Coldstone Creamery, and the village Department of Public Works. Maybe we were just lucky, but we required that they keep applying to jobs until they got one - even if it was a job other than what they might most like to do. Helped to have the kids have good school records, be reasonably clean and well groomed, and display acceptable attitudes/manners.

Once they got part-time jobs while in high school, they were able to obtain additional hours during summers, and return to the jobs when home for summer from college. None of them resorted to the baby-sitting, lawncare, caddying, tho those options were always available.

We have dissuaded the kids from working while at school, tho my youngest has said she was thinking about putting in some applications if she did not get a research position. My oldest stayed down at school during the summer between junior and senior year, and obtained 4 part-time jobs, 3 of which she still does during the school year.

Last edited by Dinsdale; 02-23-2010 at 11:48 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 02-23-2010, 11:54 AM
Mr. Excellent Mr. Excellent is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Freshman year (2002), my parents discouraged me from working, and gave me $20/week. Surprisingly, that was sufficient. I was on a meal plan and didn't go out much, so that probably helped - but for the most part, $20/week covered my expenses pretty well. Occasionally, I needed extra money for nerd things (like Model UN), and my parents gave it to me as needed. Because they trusted me to be a giant nerd. (Good grief.)

Starting sophomore year, I earned most of my spending money with campus gigs - tutoring, PC tech work, and so on.

Important note: I went to a small suburban school, some distance from the nearest big city (Providence). There simply wasn't much to do off-campus, so there wasn't much to spend money on. If your kid is going to school in a larger city, he'll probably need more money if he's to get out and about - and you probably want him to do that. Big cities have amazing cultural opportunities - theater, museums, bizarre restaurants, and so on. These are great supplements to an education (one of the reasons I liked law school much, much more than college), and you don't want your kid just hanging out in his dorm room. (That being said, there's nothing wrong with just telling him to earn his own spending money).
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 02-23-2010, 11:58 AM
Zeriel Zeriel is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
When I was in college ten years ago, I paid for my own out of the collected savings from all my high school summer jobs. With room, board, and clothes covered by my parents, I found that I was quite happy with $400-500 a semester, especially on a larger state university campus where free everything (movies, food, dance lessons, whatever) abound.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 02-23-2010, 12:03 PM
overlyverbose overlyverbose is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Why don't you try it for the first two months and see what happens? And, arrive at an amount that works for freshman year, then the next year and every year after that, have him get a job if he requires funds over and above those which you have supplied.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 02-23-2010, 12:44 PM
zweisamkeit zweisamkeit is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by purplehorseshoe View Post
Beware of pushing college kids - particularly newbie freshmen - into working part-time during the school year. When I was in school a couple of my friends' parents did that, and their grades really suffered as a result.

When you're in school, you have 4 options: you can work, you can study, you can sleep, and you can party. However, you can really only do 2 out of the 4 well at any given time. Maybe 2.5, max.
Man, I had to work while going to college (I graduated in 05). I commuted to my campus and my job paid for my car insurance, my gas to be able to drive to school, caffeine and an occasional purchased meal. That was it.

Granted, that meant I didn't really do much since I didn't have money (I also never got a credit card in college, which I am really happy about). But if I hadn't worked, I literally would not have been able to go to college.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 02-23-2010, 01:03 PM
RandMcnally RandMcnally is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by purplehorseshoe View Post
Beware of pushing college kids - particularly newbie freshmen - into working part-time during the school year. When I was in school a couple of my friends' parents did that, and their grades really suffered as a result.

When you're in school, you have 4 options: you can work, you can study, you can sleep, and you can party. However, you can really only do 2 out of the 4 well at any given time. Maybe 2.5, max.
Depending on the person. I'm in school now, without any help from my parents (I don't think they even know where I'm going to school) and I was able to pull off three jobs at a time and still get As in nearly all my classes (grumble: stupid B in English. Aced Latin though. Weird, huh?).

And yeah, I could spend every weekend partying, but do you really want to be paying for your kid to party?
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 02-23-2010, 01:06 PM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by atomicbadgerrace View Post
That's the thing about the "find a job" attitude, though. Not to harp on you or any one person in particular, but far too often the response from the galley is "tell the kid to find a job." That was hard enough years ago, and I can imagine much harder today.

A lot of parents would be "tempted" and "find it nice" to have a responsible teenage babysitter. A lot of people would love to be able to pay someone to mow their lawn. But depending on where you live, no one may be willing to pay for that kind of work out of their own pocket now. And if you find someone who is willing to fork out the cash, chances are they've already hired your competition from math class.

Actual jobs are even harder to come by for young adults, with so many actual adults taking anything opening up on the market for a while now. This is even more true of a small college town, where student jobs off campus are few and far between, and most taken on day one.
.
Not to harp on you either, but, I have NEVER had one of the neighborhood high school kids or college kids, whose parents complain about lack of jobs for that age, ask if they could mow my lawn for $25 a week or offer to take my kids on field trips for the summer in exchange for cash. I'm sure jobs are difficult to find. I'm also sure that there are unexplored opportunities available and unless you send around a few hundred fliers for "college student looking to mow lawns this summer to help with tuition" you won't know.
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 02-23-2010, 01:10 PM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by purplehorseshoe View Post
Beware of pushing college kids - particularly newbie freshmen - into working part-time during the school year. When I was in school a couple of my friends' parents did that, and their grades really suffered as a result.

When you're in school, you have 4 options: you can work, you can study, you can sleep, and you can party. However, you can really only do 2 out of the 4 well at any given time. Maybe 2.5, max.
Humph. I went to school half time, worked full time plus, and had two small kids and a husband working sixty hour weeks and graduated with a 3.97 when I went back to school. Oh, and both my sisters had health issues the last few years and lived out of state, so I was doing some family crisis related support and traveling as well. Somehow I managed to work, study, sleep, parent, keep house, do laundry and cooking for four, be a supportive sibling, and still see my friends. Are young adults really such wimps?
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 02-23-2010, 01:31 PM
RandMcnally RandMcnally is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dangerosa View Post
Are young adults really such wimps?
I'm going to say yes. I knew this one guy last year who complained how his mom stopped paying his truck insurance and they're only giving him 60 a week. Yeah, that guy was failing his classes and being a general jackass. No reason for him to be doing poorly.

I told him, "Hey, if you want, you can tell your parents that they can sponsor my college education, and when I graduate and become successful, I will give them all the credit."
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 02-23-2010, 01:49 PM
Hampshire Hampshire is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Minneapolis
Posts: 9,386
Most college success stories I know come from people who worked through college.
-My best fried worked full-time throughout college, got his degree, and went on to become a VP for the world's largest electronics retailer.
-My nephew worked part-time throughout college and graduated top of his class with a civil engineering degree.
-I worked part-time throughout college and graduated in a class of 30 whittled down over 4 years from a class of over 300.
We all lived at home, commuted a hour a day, and payed our own tuition.

On the other hand my niece didn't have to work, daddy paid for tution, got her her own apartment across the street from the student union, car and a gas card, and she dropped out before finishing her freshmen year.
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 02-23-2010, 02:01 PM
Fretful Porpentine Fretful Porpentine is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Bohemia. A seacoast.
Posts: 5,712
My parents gave me about $1,000 / semester (for books, phone service, entertainment, and incidental expenses) in 1994-98. I'd probably bump that up to $1,500 or so if I had a kid in college today, since textbook costs have gone way up.
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 02-23-2010, 02:09 PM
shiftless shiftless is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 3,896
My son gets zero dollars spending money. We pay for all of the necessities, like tuition, room and board. The rest is up to him. Students have 3 months off in the summer and a huge break at Christmas with absolutely nothing to do in which to earn whatever spending money they want. Most schools have means to earn extra cash during school as well. I worked in the math lab for a few hours a week in my college days- just enough money to cover beer for the weekend. It was not a hardship and probaly helped my grades.

I know a lot of young students and all too many of them have too much money to spend and, oddly, too little time to make decent grades.
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 02-23-2010, 02:10 PM
Kyla Kyla is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
My parents gave me $0. My spending money was from my summer job, and then student loans. I had work study my sophomore and senior years. (I did my junior year abroad. Not being legal to work, I busked on the street.)

Once, in my senior year, I fucked up my budget and had to ask my dad for money. He helped me out. My parents are cool. I was an adult, and I never felt like my parents had an obligation to pay for my college education.

ETA: My parents also paid for my airfare and some travelling costs when I studied abroad. They wanted me to have those experiences, which my student loans wouldn't have covered.

Last edited by Kyla; 02-23-2010 at 02:11 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 02-23-2010, 02:11 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Lethbridge, AB.
Posts: 48,088
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dangerosa View Post
<snip> Are young adults really such wimps?
I'm starting to think so.

How do kids learn to value things that they are just given, that they don't have to work for? Kids aren't born with a sense of entitlement; well, they kind of are, but it's up to the parents to straighten them out on that score, that the world wasn't put here for their gratification. When I was a young adult living in my parents' house, the deal was you got a free place to live while you were in school; that's as far as they paid our way (if you quit school, you got to start paying rent). The concept of parents paying every single cent for their 18-22 year old kids to get an education still strikes me as extremely generous.

Dinsdale, I think your kids learn more things they really need to know to make it in life from the demands you place on them than they do in school.

Hmm, I see I haven't really answered the OP question - I would suggest that paying his tuition, books and food is enough. Time for him to ease into the adult world of money doesn't come from nowhere.
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 02-23-2010, 02:30 PM
fluiddruid fluiddruid is offline
B. O. B. O. D. D. Y.
Moderator
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: West Des Moines, Iowa
Posts: 5,923
For what it is worth, I did not work through college, just over the summers. I worked quite hard during the summer and picked up as many hours as I could, but I didn't work during the school year*. This enabled me to graduate in 4 years, whereas many of my peers were taking 5 -- even 6 -- to get their degree. I was able to add courseload because I had more free time. There are just so many hours in the day, you know?

My parents covered tuition and a meal plan or a basic amount for groceries, as well as books. My mom would take me grocery shopping to set me up for awhile when dropping me off (it was a long way, so this was usually twice a semester). The rest I covered out of savings. I never really had a lot of money but enough to get by, I guess.

* I did get a job during my senior year but this was because my parents had started a painful divorce and my father was playing financial games with me in order to try to get my mom to give me money, e.g. telling me he'd pay for books only if I sent the receipt, but then deciding if I had enough money (my savings for the whole year) to front for books, he didn't need to pay. I didn't tell him about the job. My grades did suffer that year but that may not have been entirely job-related; a close friend died that summer so I was pretty distracted.
Reply With Quote
  #34  
Old 02-23-2010, 02:44 PM
joebuck20 joebuck20 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
My parents covered most of my tuition and room and board, and I was responsible for any spending money I wanted.
I had a part time job, which probably netted about $120-$150 a month. I'm going to say it was easy, but it was certainly doable.
For one I lived in the dorms all four years, so I had no rent or monthly bills to take care of. I didn't have a cell phone (this was in the late 90s and early 2000s, before they became ubiquitous). I used the computers in the library and labs to type and print out assignments. And for three years I didn't have a car on campus, so I didn't have to worry about gas or insurance.
As for social life, there was always a lot going on or near campus and if I wanted to party I just had to find out where the nearest house party was taking place, pay three bucks for a cup and drink my fill. The only things I really spent money on were school supplies and the occasional movie theater outing, pizza and CD.

Last edited by joebuck20; 02-23-2010 at 02:49 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #35  
Old 02-23-2010, 02:46 PM
appleciders appleciders is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
My first year, my parents paid for everything on the bill the school sent them, plus my cell phone. That left me to cover everything else, including books, pizza and beer, and entertainment. I worked about seven hours a week to cover that, along with about $800 of my summer savings left after I turned the rest of my savings over to my parents (about $7000 that first year, I think, because it was several years of savings). I finished up my freshman and sophomore years with more money in the bank than I had coming in, though I'm a pretty cheap person. Your kid should angle for an on-campus job; they have lots of desk jobs where you're greeting people who come in, or checking IDs at the gym, or other things that you can do as you do your homework.
Reply With Quote
  #36  
Old 02-23-2010, 03:07 PM
JohnT JohnT is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: San Antonio, TX
Posts: 13,852
Quote:
Originally Posted by SanDiegoTim View Post
All this said, I'd appreciate any thoughts/ideas on how much I should provide him for "spending" money. I was thinking somewhere in the range of $150.00 per month, Too much? Too little?
Wait... college kids are provided with allowances on top of having their tuition+food+board paid for?

Can you adopt me? I'm not going to school, but I wouldn't mind an extra $150 merely for being your kid.
Reply With Quote
  #37  
Old 02-23-2010, 10:24 PM
NinjaChick NinjaChick is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnT View Post
Wait... college kids are provided with allowances on top of having their tuition+food+board paid for?

Can you adopt me? I'm not going to school, but I wouldn't mind an extra $150 merely for being your kid.
Sadly, I know a couple people whose parents saw no reason for their pwecious to get a job in college, and gave them upwards of $50/week. Having graduated last year or the year before, those of us who actually had to deal with being broke seem to be doing a lot better than those who mooched off mommy and daddy. What they learned was how to be dependent on their parents, not how to be an adult.

My parents paid for tuition, board, and the minimal meal plan. If I had an emergency, I had a credit card linked to their account. If I absolutely needed something I couldn't afford, my parents would help me out (eg, "Mom, my homework for this class is taking me twice as long because I don't have this $50 reference book, can you help me out?"). I didn't have a car, either.

I still had a great time. Also, I learned how to budget my money and began to learn how to get by on a teeny-tiny part-time paycheck. I'd wager that unless you want to continue supporting your kids for the rest of their adult life, it's time to start to gradually cut them loose.
Reply With Quote
  #38  
Old 02-23-2010, 10:41 PM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by atomicbadgerrace View Post
I'm inclined to agree with this response. Personally, my parents gave me $200/month my first year at college, which might seem like a lot, but when you factor in the above variables, it really doesn't leave much left for anything other than the occasional dinner and a movie night. I budgeted mine to allow for a couple weekends of fun, some school supplies (including one trip in a taxi to WalMart at 2AM because I'd found I was out of aforementioned printer ink), and the occasional clothing purchase.
I got about $600 a month (I started college in '99), after tuition, books and medical expenses, if I recall correctly. I'll check with my mother tomorrow.

From that I paid for rent, running expenses for my car, fraternity dues, food, clothing and so on. I did need a car - it was a commuter campus, and on-campus housing was extremely limited.

I also worked about 20 hours a week most of the time I was in school.

Looking back, it was way too much; my mother felt that a generous stipend would make sure I didn't feel pressured to work, and therefore would be better able to concentrate on school. However, due to various factors (not incidentally, the fact that we were relatively poor up to shortly prior to me leaving for college, and the notion that I had money and could spend it was a bizarre and exciting new concept) it had the opposite effect - with lots and lots of discretionary income I always had money to go drinking, clubbing, buying video games, whatever - anything but study. I established some habits which have been remarkably hard to break (I eat out- mostly fast food- about 90% of the time).

I would say shiftless probably has it about right, although finding on-campus jobs is extremely hard at the moment (fewer off-campus jobs means a lot more competition for on-campus ones). I'd also cover medical expenses - college health centers offer reduced-cost but not free care. Obviously, if your kid is covered under your health insurance, this is a non-issue.

A minimum-wage job at 20 hours a week pays $145 a week before taxes; an on-campus job may pay less, because kids get tuition discounts or reduced dorm rent or whatever.

Either way, that should be more than enough discretionary income for most kids. If he can get a job, great. If he can't, give him an extra $100 a week.
Quote:
Sadly, I know a couple people whose parents saw no reason for their pwecious to get a job in college, and gave them upwards of $50/week. Having graduated last year or the year before, those of us who actually had to deal with being broke seem to be doing a lot better than those who mooched off mommy and daddy. What they learned was how to be dependent on their parents, not how to be an adult.
I'm not trying to be snarky or anything but aren't you unemployed and mooching off mom and dad right now?

Last edited by Really Not All That Bright; 02-23-2010 at 10:46 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #39  
Old 02-23-2010, 10:57 PM
elfkin477 elfkin477 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: NH
Posts: 19,459
Quote:
Originally Posted by atomicbadgerrace View Post
Actual jobs are even harder to come by for young adults, with so many actual adults taking anything opening up on the market for a while now. This is even more true of a small college town, where student jobs off campus are few and far between, and most taken on day one.
Actual jobs are hard to find, but college campuses have job openings just for students. Finding an on-campus job isn't as hard as it would be to find one elsewhere, even if the kid doesn't qualify for work-study jobs.
Reply With Quote
  #40  
Old 02-24-2010, 07:19 AM
Ruken Ruken is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: DC
Posts: 2,485
Quote:
Originally Posted by RandMcnally View Post
Depending on the person.
And on the school as well. Undergrad was a lot harder for me than getting a Ph.D in chemistry.
Reply With Quote
  #41  
Old 02-24-2010, 07:48 AM
lazybratsche lazybratsche is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by elfkin477 View Post
Actual jobs are hard to find, but college campuses have job openings just for students. Finding an on-campus job isn't as hard as it would be to find one elsewhere, even if the kid doesn't qualify for work-study jobs.
This was true in my case, but it depends on the university. I got a part-time college job just by walking into the office of the campus dining hall and asking. But this was in a tiny little rural college town where there wasn't a huge amount of competition for jobs. I earned somewhere between $100 and $200/month, which was plenty. But it was hard to blow a lot of money there -- tickets at the town movie theater or most campus events were less than $5, and it cost about $25 for a meal from the really expensive restaurant in town.
Reply With Quote
  #42  
Old 02-24-2010, 09:25 AM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Chicago,IL
Posts: 14,962
Quote:
Originally Posted by SanDiegoTim View Post
All this said, I'd appreciate any thoughts/ideas on how much I should provide him for "spending" money. I was thinking somewhere in the range of $150.00 per month, Too much? Too little?
All I can say is

Do You Want to adopt me?
Reply With Quote
  #43  
Old 02-24-2010, 09:48 AM
shiftless shiftless is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 3,896
My sister was shocked to learn that I was not sending my son spending money. She apparently gives her kids hundreds per month in addition to paying for everything else. She actively lobbied me to give him at least $100 a month because he "has to have money." In my opinion, since she gladly pays for any legal expense, she is encouraging her kids to buy beer and pot.

I should confess - When I think of someone going off to college I can't help picturing of Booker T. Washington in his book Up from Slavery . Read that - then the idea of a student "needing" free beer money becomes absurd. Not a fair comparison I know but the image of B.T.W. sleeping under a house still arises whenever one of my kids tells me about how they don't have money for a new snowboard or some such.
Reply With Quote
  #44  
Old 02-24-2010, 10:17 AM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by shiftless View Post
In my opinion, since she gladly pays for any legal expense, she is encouraging her kids to buy beer and pot.
Its probably worth while for someone who chooses to give their college kids an allowance to sit down and budget. In my dorm, there was no Saturday night dinner, so you needed to be able to throw in your $5 for pizza and if you weren't going home for months, you needed enough change for the laundry. If you are buying their clothes, their books, and their meal plan - and there is ample free or really cheap entertainment through movies at the student union and bands at the student union, you probably don't need much. But budget.

If the large line items on the budget are beer and pot and several MMORGs subscriptions, you probably aren't doing your kid that many favors financing his college PLUS his partying.

If its money for the coin operated laundry, money for that not included Sunday dinner, money for the cell phone bill, money to cover the $2 cover charge at the student union, some extra cash for needing new pens or a trip to the copy store - and a small amount of unitemized expenses - the umbrella you forgot to pack, the "we won the Rose Bowl" sweatshirt - you are probably fine.

And if the laundry gets done in extra large batches and Saturday dinner is whatever was smuggled out of the cafeteria at lunch time so that he has extra money for pot and beer - he's learned a lesson in budgeting and being frugal.
Reply With Quote
  #45  
Old 02-24-2010, 10:46 AM
shiftless shiftless is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 3,896
Thank you for keeping it in prespective Dangeosa. Budgeting and open communication about expenses - it's so crazy it just might work.

I have to ask ... when you say: "If the large line items on the budget are beer and pot and several MMORGs subscriptions....". Do you know my son?

The important point is that the student get an agreed upon amount and must learn to live within his/her means. They don't teach that stuff in school.
Reply With Quote
  #46  
Old 02-24-2010, 01:51 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Lethbridge, AB.
Posts: 48,088
I have the privilege of having a front row seat for a woman whose young adult children are both blowing up in her face now - the 21 year old is on her first divorce and has an 18 month old that the grandparents are basically raising, since she has moved back in with her parents. The 20 year old owes them thousands of dollars, and has stormed out of the house in a huff because they were demanding that she start paying them back (after she had already screwed them over for a re-finance on their house that their daughter's debts was messing up - the daughter's debts are in their names, apparently). Suggesting to this woman that perhaps, just maybe, a little tough love would go a long way with these useless adult children is just whistling in the breeze.

I thought I had a point that related to this thread - oh yeah, don't give them everything unless you want to keep on doing so (and for their children that they'll bring home, too).
Reply With Quote
  #47  
Old 02-24-2010, 01:58 PM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by shiftless View Post
I have to ask ... when you say: "If the large line items on the budget are beer and pot and several MMORGs subscriptions....". Do you know my son?
The only thing that I suspect has really changed about college since I went is now you need a MMORG subscription. And I suspect that really only the details have changed since the middle ages when you could be thrown into the student prison for chasing pigs through town (don't tell me there wasn't a beer budget involved before you chased pigs).
Reply With Quote
  #48  
Old 02-24-2010, 02:17 PM
needscoffee needscoffee is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by shiftless View Post
[...] Most schools have means to earn extra cash during school as well. I worked in the math lab for a few hours a week in my college days- just enough money to cover beer for the weekend. It was not a hardship and probaly helped my grades.[...]
I misread this to be "I worked in the meth lab..."
Reply With Quote
  #49  
Old 02-24-2010, 02:32 PM
Glory Glory is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 2,688
Quote:
Originally Posted by purplehorseshoe View Post
Beware of pushing college kids - particularly newbie freshmen - into working part-time during the school year. When I was in school a couple of my friends' parents did that, and their grades really suffered as a result.

When you're in school, you have 4 options: you can work, you can study, you can sleep, and you can party. However, you can really only do 2 out of the 4 well at any given time. Maybe 2.5, max.
My first two years, my parents paid tuition, dorm, food (meal plan), fees and books. I worked for everything else - in a convenience store in my dorm. My last two years, I managed to turn my convenience store job into a job managing all the convenience stores on campus - I got better money AND free dorm and meal plan. My parents continued to pay tuition, but I slowly absorbed fees and books. I also worked every summer and saved money (this was way back in 88-92, no cell phone plans, etc).

I had no problem with my grades - maybe because I didn't consider partying as important as school? Not to be snarky, really, but I really felt grateful to my parents for paying for school and knew how lucky I was to get out of college with a degree and zero debt.

I still had a lot of fun

Last edited by Glory; 02-24-2010 at 02:34 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #50  
Old 02-24-2010, 02:54 PM
Mr. Excellent Mr. Excellent is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dangerosa View Post
And if the laundry gets done in extra large batches and Saturday dinner is whatever was smuggled out of the cafeteria at lunch time so that he has extra money for pot and beer - he's learned a lesson in budgeting and being frugal.
Heh. I saved a *lot* of money by smuggling chicken and vegetables out of the cafeteria at lunch for my "Klepto Curry" dinners, senior year. And I still make the curry! (Though now, sadly, I need to pay for all the ingredients. Stupid laws.)

BTW, something else to consider - even if your kid can't chip in much to his/her living expenses now, there is nothing at all wrong with having him/her take out student loans to offset at least some of the expenses.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:25 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.