When your child starts college and you have an empty nest, you might have a to-do list, including travel abroad and fixing up the house.
But before you book a flight, borrow money to turn your child’s room into a home theater or think about other activities for empty nesters, consider that a growing number of students are choosing to live at home and commute to college.
Nearly one in five students opts to save money by being a commuter college student rather than a campus resident. If your child is weighing whether or not to commute to college, consider the following.
Commuting to college lessens room and board expenses
College room and board averaged $10,389 a year in the 2015–2016 school year. These expenses are in addition to the thousands of dollars you may already be paying for tuition. Eliminating this expense can make college more affordable. If your child decides to drive, you can factor in wear and tear on the vehicle as well as fuel costs, which may impact the decision.
Campus life considerations
Your child may want to make the drive to school to enjoy some late-night pizzas, evening activities and casual interactions with other students that make college fun. But if affording the room-and-board cost is a main factor in whether your child can attend their college of choice, you both may need to prioritize and schedule thoughtfully. If your child is enrolled in a school with a limited campus life, commuting may already be the clear choice.
Is driving worth it?
Look closely at where the school is located and what the typical traffic is like on the route your child would take to get to classes each day. A 1.5-hour drive during the morning and evening rush hours can limit time for studying and extracurricular activities. To make longer commutes more manageable, your child can consider scheduling their classes on the same days each week — such as Mondays and Wednesdays — to limit driving during the week.
Another consideration is the school’s available parking — can your child purchase a pass for the school lots that’s good for a semester, or will they need to pay to park in a garage off campus? Are the lots well-lit and patrolled by security guards for added safety? The answers to these questions can influence the cost and your child’s decision to commute to college.
Living on campus could mean more independence
While living at home, parents are likely to continue doing what they do best: parenting. You’ll ask about homework, remind your son or daughter about upcoming responsibilities and offer assistance for difficult decisions. You may mean well, but this can be perceived as a threat to emerging independence. This may create friction in your parent-child relationship.
On campus, your child makes the decisions. If they go out to an event and put off working on a term paper, your child will have to figure out how to get it done or deal with the grade. Such life lessons can serve as a good primer for adulthood, including the working world when they’ll have to make decisions for themselves regularly.
If your child decides to commute, it helps to set some ground rules that you’re both happy with. Have a plan in place for scenarios like how your child will let you know they’re staying on campus for the night or what you’ll do to provide them with quiet studying time at home. Having these expectations lets your student explore their independence while still respecting your relationship and the home you share.
Forming new friendships
Students will make friends whether they live on campus or not, but when a student is surrounded by people their own age most of the time, the bonds can grow deeper. These are relationships that are built on late-night study sessions and shared passions for sports, music and food. They’re those relationships that can also last a lifetime. Even if your child lives off campus, they’ll have plenty of other opportunities to build new friendships through classes, volunteering, working part time or starting an off-campus study group for other students who commute. On the other hand, commuting to college while living at home can allow your child to keep in touch with existing friends that they might have otherwise lost touch with.
Auto Insurance Deciding to commute to college is an important step for you and your child. If they make the decision to drive to campus, help them stay protected with the right car insurance for their needs.
How much do you spend on groceries weekly? The average cost to feed a family of four can be up to $1,293 per month, according to an Agriculture Department report.
If you’re grocery shopping on a budget, use these 10 ways to help save money on groceries.
1. Make a list
The first place to start when planning how to save money on food is to make a list. With a prepared list, you’re less likely to buy things you don’t need or already have. Create a meal plan for each week, check the cupboards and freezer for items you have, and make a list for what’s needed. When you go shopping, stick to the list.
2. Hunt coupons
Want to make it easier to stick to your grocery budget? Use coupons! No need to break out the scissors—in today’s digital world, clipping coupons from the Sunday paper isn’t necessary. There are dozens of coupon sites and apps you can use to find coupons and save money on groceries. Print coupons from your computer, and keep them organized by food type in a binder. Some retailers offer double coupons on certain days; check with your local store to see which day can save you even more money with your coupons.
3. Buy fewer pre-made foods
Grabbing a pre-made dinner from a grocery store is a convenient option on a busy day. However, those pre-made dinners can be costly if you purchase them regularly or they’re not on sale. Try to keep the ingredients on hand for a few quick meals — staples like rice, pasta and frozen vegetables are a great start to saving time and money on those hurried nights.
4. Cut your own fruit
Buying fruit that’s pre-cut is handy, but it’s also expensive. Buy fruit that’s in season and cut it at home to save money. Take the time to portion it out into small containers or plastic bags so it’s ready to quickly add to lunches or grab as a snack.
5. Go generic
Name-brand products are more expensive and often have a generic alternative. Check the labels. Most of the time, generic brands have the same ingredients as the name brands, but they cost less.
6. Avoid eye-level shelves
Grocery stores strategically place higher-priced items on eye-level shelves. If you look above or below, you’ll often find a similar, lower-cost product.
7. Stock up during sales
When an item hits a low price, stock up. Typically, sales are on a three-month cycle. When you see great prices on non-perishable foods like pasta or crackers, it’s best to buy enough in bulk to cover the next two or three months.
8. Avoid buying kitchenware
If the mixer breaks or your favorite cookie sheet looks a little rough, the grocery store isn’t the best place to buy kitchenware. Search for better deals elsewhere. Check online retailers and compare prices rather than buying out of convenience.
9. Start an herb garden
Rather than purchase cut herbs at a grocery store, start your own herb garden. The cost of pots, dirt and seeds is a small investment that can pay for itself in a few months.
10. Shop without the kids
When kids join the shopping adventure, you may spend more time in the store, and they may ask for extra items that aren’t on your list. If you have children and are able, try to shop alone so it’s easier to stick to the list.
By using these tips, you can learn how to save on groceries and can use the extra money to give the family budget a boost.
The things you value are part of your everyday life – so much so that you might not even be able to list them if they weren’t there.
That’s the value of a home inventory. Making a detailed list of what you own ensures that you won’t overlook anything if you have to recall what was in your house should it be lost by fire, theft or other circumstance.
Start by assembling the tools for documenting what you own and by figuring out how you will store the inventory list. The way you document what you own dictates how you’ll store the information.
If you document with a notebook and with a traditional camera, you’ll need to store the inventory in a physical location like a safety deposit box, with a lawyer or with a trusted family member or friend.
Consider making three copies of the inventory: one to keep at home; and one each for two trusted sources. This increases the chances that at least one record will be easily accessible when you need it. Make paper copies of documents such as warranties and receipts.
If you document your belongings digitally, you’ll want to make digital duplicates, with the option of storing the files in the cloud.
It’s easiest to take the inventory room by room. Set up the same system for each room so your documentation makes sense to you and to whomever must decipher it if you are not around.
Take several photos of each room, from different angles. A good way to go about this is to stand in the doorway and slowly rotate clockwise, taking overlapping frames that eventually take in the whole room.
SPI Reflections Blog
Our blog is about educating our customers and the public about important insurance information that we feel is meaningful.