There are financial moves that can really make a difference in the amount of money you have in your pocket to make your years in college more financially comfortable. Knowing that you have a grip on your financial situation and that you actually have some things within your control will make a difference in your attitude toward college.
Here are some steps to consider in your pursuit of having some control over your college money:
Although your college book store is the first place you think of for textbooks, it can be far more expensive than it needs to be. When you have your list of needed textbooks, check bulletin boards on campus, especially in the buildings when those classes may meet. You can find the textbooks you need at tremendous discounts. Keep this in mind when it comes time for you to be finished with your textbooks. Not only can you get far more back than your bookstore is willing to buy them for, but it feels good to operate this way.
Another option for finding less expensive books is on Craigslist. If the listing is specific and has the edition you seek, it will hook you up with the seller. Once again, remember this when you are looking for a buyer for your books.
Try Amazon.com and other sites, especially if you can get a used book that may not be available at your bookstore. Most of the time, the prices are less expensive.
Give this some thought. Is there a better way you can feed yourself during college. Are you on a meal plan? Look at the options. Can you supplement how you are getting meals with some snack foods such as nuts, peanut butter crackers, fruit, etc. to bring down your weekly or monthly food bill.
Look at the option for sharing rides if you are driving to class. Are you stopping at the closest gas station or can you plan it so that you can fill up at a discount station during the week?
529 Plans for all your expenses-
Your state may offer substantial state tax incentives and other benefits for choosing one of its 529 plans. 529 college-savings plan. The sooner your money is in an account, the sooner it starts to earn tax-free returns.One of the best things about 529 accounts is that you can get started with a minimal investment.
31 states plus the District of Columbia offer residents a tax deduction or credit for contributing to their state’s own 529 plan. Kansas, Maine and Pennsylvania even let residents take the deduction for out-of-state 529s as well.The name comes from the section of the federal tax code that allows them, they offer significant tax benefits.
With a 529 savings plan, earnings accumulate tax free and withdrawals can be made tax free, when it’s time to pay for a child’s college expenses including tuition, books, and room and board.Money from a state-sponsored college savings plan can be used to pay for educational expenses at any accredited college or university.
Many plans allow anyone – from any state – to contribute to a 529 plan. If you start a 529 account for your child in your home state, grandparents or even friends can contribute to it, even if they live across the country.
What happens if your designated beneficiary decides not to go to college?
A parent has three basic choices:
Hang on to the savings plan
Transfer it to another family member
Cash out and pay a penalty
You can keep the 529 plan in case the beneficiary decides to attend university at a later date. Another great option is that you can transfer the account over to another family member.
Cashing out the plan is another option, but it comes with a penalty. Most states collect of 10 percent of the earnings on any withdrawal not used for educational purposes.
A federal penalty equal to 10 percent of earnings will be charged as well. No penalty will be assessed if a beneficiary should die or become disabled.
While the tax-free withdrawals looks good, some families may be better off if financial aid is a consideration. Participating in a 529 plan affects a family’s eligibility for financial aid.
Some financial experts advise lower-income families, who are likely to receive a large amount of financial aid, that 529 plans are not for them because having a 529 savings plan may reduce the amount of aid you can receive.
529 plans may make the best advice for upper-income families who won’t qualify for financial aid and for middle-income families who only qualify for loans.
It is important to understand all fees associated with a 529 plan so that the fees don’t cancel out the earnings of participation in the plan.Look at enrollment fees and management fees.
Look at the details of enrollment and related fees because some states actually waive fees to in-state residents or for people who can keep large account balances.
Each state offers different plans, so you will want to look at your own state plans before looking at attractive plans from other states.
These are financial moves that can really make a difference in the amount of money you have in your pocket to make your years in college more financially comfortable. Knowing that you have a grip on your financial situation and that you actually have some things within your control will keep you feeling more positive toward being a college student.