What College Students Don't Need

College students who don’t check their spending can find themselves in a jam quicker than you can say final exam.

What’s sad is that most people attending school think there are certain things they just “need” to have. We’ve all got stuff that we “need,” but when you get down to it, most of those items are wants.

Here’s how you can tell if something is a need or a want. Imagine finding yourself out on the street. You have no home, friends or family, and you’re on your own. At that point, you aren’t wondering where you can buy a latte or where the nearest place is that you can get on your laptop. You’re thinking about where you can go and be safe, get some food, shelter, basic clothing and all that other stuff.

So, on that note … let’s address some wants masking themselves as needs.

Credit Card

A recent Sallie Mae study found that the average freshman with a piece of plastic will end the academic year with $2,000 in debt. They are just being weaned off of allowance at this point in their lives, so $2,000 might as well be $200,000. Don’t let them start off their financial lives behind the eight ball. Stay away from credit cards and debt.

Cable TV

It’s no better if they are neglecting homework for a television show or movie channel than it is to hit the nightclubs. Cable is definitely a luxury item, so don’t let anyone tell you that they “need” it in their room if it’s available.


There’s nothing wrong with owning a paid-for car and having it at school, if you can afford stuff like gas and parking. But when your child thinks they must have a set of wheels, remember something. According to AAA, in a nine-month academic year, a car driven 10,000 miles would rack up about $5,800 in expenses such as gas, maintenance and insurance. Permits and parking will drive that number higher, and if your budget is already tight, you might consider leaving the car at home.

Off-Campus Living

This might be the biggest college expense besides the student loan. Many times, a loan is taken out just to pay for this more expensive lifestyle. Talk about stupid! College students don’t need to live like King Tut while they are getting an education. It won’t kill them to live on campus and eat dorm food. It’s a privilege and a responsibility just to go to college. It’s not some boot-camp torture, so kids don’t need to find relief in eating out every night or having a bedroom with a private balcony.

Be smart about school spending. That way, when college is over, so are its expenses.


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