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My son leaves for college in one month…so, what does that have to do with organizing?

A lot! There is more to going to college than packing up clothes and ordering dorm bedding—you do know that you need extra long sheets for dorm beds don’t you?

Even if you don’t have children heading off to college one day, read on for ways you can save money for other reasons or just how to live with less.

For those of you with young children, those planning to have children or those who have a child just a few years away from finishing high school if you haven’t started saving for your child’s college education, START. I thought I was prepared financially but I’m not even close. I thought my insanely brainy boy would be raking in the scholarships—NOT. Don’t count on scholarships, don’t count on great loan rates, and most of all don’t count on family. START saving A LOT of money now.

My son is going to an out-of-state college (not private) and that alone is costing $15,000 more a year just because he isn’t a resident. Yes, $15,000 MORE not total. And, if you thinking obtaining residency is easy—well rethink that idea, it’s not. When I starting saving for him I thought I would be paying $10,000 TOTAL per year for four years. He is studying architecture and it is at least a five year program. I also thought the money would grow, but we all know what happened to the market and college funds in the past two, now you know how far behind I am with my savings plan!

Lastly, don’t let your financial planner tell you to worry about your own retirement first. Because when the time comes that same financial planner will say, “What were you thinking, how are you going to pay for his college?” I’m thinking of firing my financial planner!

Here are a few ideas to save you money that you can deposit into your child’s college fund or just live on less money:

1. Clip coupons and use the Couponizer to organize them. I wish I had started doing this 18+ years ago I might actually have saved enough for college just with clipping coupons.

2. Consign your gently worn clothing that you are no longer wearing. My daughter regularly sells her clothing to the Buffalo Exchange to pay for her new clothing. My son, daughter and I have consignment accounts at Katelyn’s Closet and 95% of what we consign sells.

3. Only pay for something if it is on sale (groceries may be the exception here since not everything you need at the grocery store will always be on sale). But, don’t buy something just because it is on sale. Buy if you need it and buy it on sale.

4. Ok, you have heard this one a zillion times—stop buying your daily latte, mocha or whatever your drink of choice is. Deposit the $3+ into your child’s college fund instead. In one year you will save $1,092+, but in 18 years you will save $19,656 plus interest. My husband and I didn’t give up coffee altogether. A few years ago we bought an espresso machine for a ridiculous sale price and now make all of our lattes and mochas at home. Between the two of us we save $2,704+ year—that covers textbooks.

5. If you are fortunate enough to have someone else clean your home, consider cutting back to once a month instead of weekly or biweekly and do all of the cleaning yourself. I’m not sure exactly what this costs, since I clean my home, but I have heard it is around $100+ a cleaning. So, depending on how often your cleaning crew cleans will depend on how much you save. But whatever it is, deposit into your child’s college fund.

6. Walk or use public transportation more and save the gas money. Consolidate your errands and do them all on one day instead of going out every day. If I didn’t need my car for my business I would seriously consider giving it up. I would save thousands of dollars a year in gas, maintenance and insurance costs. I would probably weigh 10 pounds less too with all of the walking I would do.

7. I can hear my father’s voice with this idea, “Turn off the lights! Stop running the water while you brush your teeth!” These seem like trivial ideas, but believe me you will save hundreds of dollars a year if you are more energy conscious.

8. When you get a raise, save it with every paycheck. If you could live on what you made before, you can still live on it.

9. Have an annual garage sale. I had my first one in 15 years a few weeks ago. I’m great at going through my stuff on a regular basis and donating to charitable organizations. But, with our first tuition payment due I rethought this practice and decided to hold a garage sale. We didn’t make tons of money but we made $550 and we would have given that away with past practice. It may not sound like much, but when you realize it will pay for your child to come home for Thanksgiving or Christmas it is a fortune! For tips on a successful garage sale read my good friend and colleague Danielle Liu’s garage sale tip sheet.

10. Do it yourself! As I write this blog I’m watching my husband wash the windows. Something we in the past have hired to have done. But we’re saving $200 to do it ourselves. In a few weeks my husband is going to demo the master bathroom down to the studs and remodel it himself. We were told by one company it would cost us $25,000. That was a huge motivator to do it ourselves and hire only what we need such as a drywaller and electrician.

I could go on and on with money saving ideas, because believe me I’m implementing them all at least for the next 7-10 years my kids are in college (yes, my daughter starts in two years, that’s when the pain really starts). If you have money saving ideas, please share them with me.

I have implemented a sliding scale plan that will help you to save money when you work with me. And, referrals are always appreciated!

No matter what, start saving for a purpose or to live with less.

So, if you see me and my gray hair roots are showing and my clothes look like they are off the Goodwill rack, please don’t judge because my kids’ college education depends on it!


Janet Barclay said…
We helped fund our kids' education by taking advantage of a plan at work where we could have money taken off each pay and go towards savings bonds. We never missed that little bit but it did add up, plus they got to earn interest on the bonds until it was time to cash them in. Every little bit helps!
Secrets said…
My kid is in college too. Boy what an expensive

We've been doing some creative financing.

Thanks for the advice!!!
Abigail said…
Some great info here. You have been publishing some interesting posts recently!

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