NOTE: I apologize for any spelling errors that may occur in this post...college supplies just make me furious! Even spell check can't help my soul.
I've seen how expensive parents can make college out to be. They hurry out and secure overpriced books, supplies, and dorm rooms as if the education apocalypse is knocking down their picket fences. It doesn't have to be this way, does it? College kids don't need the 75-shelved bookcase that folds up into your pocket or the bathrobes or the "super special college dorm room sheet set". They don't even want that shit.
College students want to be shuttled off into the university with the basics. They don't need anything else. After all, we've seen what happens to kids who get everything and earn nothing on their own, haven't we? I have and it's miserable to watch. Every day that I go to the park with my daughter, I can pinpoint which parents are ruining their children with ample amounts of toys, smart phones, etc...what four-year-old needs a scooter and a bicycle at the park? Why the heck did you do that? I see you, and I know that are going to be that parent who buys all that expensive, unnecessary shit for college.
I won't let myself be one of them. Never. I happily restrict my daughter's "purchasing power" (she really has none...I have the debit card, let's all remember who the real boss is here, okay) when we are at the store. She says something like, "I want a new baby." I say, "Then you'll have to give your other baby to another little girl first." Conversation over. The lesson I am teaching her is not frugality; it is a lesson in wants vs. needs, and how to be self-disciplined.
Self-discipline people. It is a beautiful and necessary life skill. Kids just don't have it these days. And it isn't their fault. It's yours. How do you know if you are one of these parents? Ask yourself, 'Do I let my child have anything?" or 'When the newest [insert ridiculous toy brand here] came out, did I let my child have it without donating the old toy?" or 'Does my child have more room in the house than I do?'
That last question is usually the one that proves it all. I was like that for a while. I realized how much "stuff" my daughter amassed over the years from presents and grandma. When I realized that she needed an Ikea space to herself, I knew it was time to teach her about purging and about needs vs. wants. And you know what, she has become more empathetic ever since. She loves donating her old toys to foster homes and donation sites. Of course, that doesn't mean that she doesn't act like a little asshole every now and then when she doesn't get the pie and the cake.
God, this post is supposed to be about college kids and saving cash. Okay, well I can get there from here. All that treatment as a young child translates into the departure from home into college.
Last year, my sister was a college freshman. She was required to live in the dorms unless she lived with a "responsible" guardian. First of all, that is lame because she is incredibly responsible. This isn't the era of Pride and Prejudice, is it? Something about having to send my sister to a dorm turned my mother into one of those parents. She bought the sheet set. She worried if she'd have enough to eat. She bought the shower shoes, the bathrobe, the books from the university bookstore (because what if Amazon didn't have it), and everything else despite my advice.
By the second semester though, she was convinced that she spent too much, and she let me show her how to 'let go' and allow my sister to buy the used textbooks online. My sister gave the bathrobe to her roommate. The sheets that my mother bought were awful.
Parents can avoid all the unnecessary expenses by determining what is a necessity and what is frivolous. Here are my thoughts on necessities: