3 Simple Money-Saving Hacks for Families with Teens

Raising a teenager while also keeping an eye on your family’s finances can be a tricky balancing act. All parents want to provide their teens with the best possible opportunities and preparation for adulthood, but this can be an expensive undertaking, especially when you’re readying your young adult for college or university.

Here are some easy ways for your family to get the most out of your hard-earned money and spend quality time enjoying those unique teenage years.

Make higher education more affordable by applying to these easy scholarships

It’s one of life’s eternal truths that higher education is expensive — really expensive. And while responsible saving and budgeting can help reduce the costs of tuition, textbooks (see below), and room and board, going to college or university is always going to be a costly decision.

Although having a student loan may be inevitable, scholarships are a great way to reduce the cost of higher education. Unfortunately, many students are daunted by the idea of applying for scholarships, especially when there are long application forms and multiple essays involved.

However, there are a number of excellent scholarship platforms that offer young people access to thousands of funding opportunities, no matter where they are in their education or what they hope to accomplish. There are numerous little-known scholarships that are just waiting to be awarded to the right applicant. Not only are scholarships available for academic excellence, but there are also scholarships that recognize athletic achievement, extracurricular involvement, community service, hobbies, career interests, family background and much more.

Finding these scholarships might sound difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Platforms such as Bold.org have helped a growing number of students locate and apply for funding. Bold.org uses comprehensive student profiles to match applicants with the scholarships that are most relevant to them, and that they are most likely to get.

Notably, Bold.org boasts a wide variety of scholarships that aren’t found on any other platform. These scholarships have been donated by philanthropists and organizations focused on everything from mental health and chemical engineering to female entrepreneurs and African-American journalists. Bold.org also has a lengthy, frequently-updated list of no-essay scholarships that high school and university students can apply for in a matter of minutes, thus increasing their chances of receiving a scholarship and making their education more affordable.

Save hundreds of dollars every semester by renting textbooks

Textbooks are a huge expense that university students have to contend with every semester. Unless there is a good supply of used textbooks on campus, students often purchase new textbooks that they’ll use for just a few months and then attempt to re-sell at a fraction of their original price. In addition to their high prices, physical textbooks are also heavy, unwieldy, and detrimental to the environment.

A much more affordable and eco-friendly option is to rent textbooks, for far less than the cost of a new textbook, or even a used textbook. With today’s college students bringing laptops and tablets to lectures instead of folders and notebooks, digital textbooks are the next logical step. Furthermore, digital textbooks often contain additional resources that aren’t found in physical textbooks, such as videos and interactive study activities.

  • VitalSource is a popular supplier of digital textbooks on practically any academic topic, from publishers all around the world. Students choose the amount of time they’d like to borrow the textbook for, typically three or six months, or they can permanently purchase a digital copy. On average, students save 66 per cent per textbook when renting with VitalSource. The textbooks can be downloaded as EPUB or PDF files onto any device and perused offline with the Bookshelf app, which has tools for notetaking, highlighting, making flashcards, looking up words, and even reading audio aloud.
  • For those who prefer the feel of a real textbook, or you just want more options for sourcing your study materials, eCampus is another excellent website for university students. With eCampus, students can compare prices for renting or buying textbooks, as either digital or hard copies. eCampus facilitates physical textbook rental by offering free shipping, and there are affordable options for extending rental periods and purchasing borrowed textbooks. eCampus is also a good option for reselling textbooks when you no longer need them, as it consistently gives students much better rates than campus bookstores.

If you decide not to rent, there are plenty of other websites that sell both used and new textbooks. You can often find good deals on sites such as CampusBooks.com and AbeBooks, and of course, Amazon — although certain textbooks may only be available in old, out-of-date editions. Adding a free browser extension such as Wikibuy or Honey is a useful way to save money when shopping online for textbooks (or anything else). Wikibuy has become particularly popular in recent years, as it relies on crowdsourced information from its three million users to find the best prices on Amazon and thousands of other online retailers.

Help your teen learn about personal finance with a free budgeting app

 Keeping track of your finances is an essential skill for all young adults, whether they’re attending college or university, embracing the challenges of a first job, or working part-time to pay for higher education. But there’s no reason to delay teaching your child about personal finance until after high school graduation. In fact, there are many apps that can help teenagers learn about responsible budgeting, spending, and saving from an earlier age.

For Millennials and Generation Z, personal finance apps have made traditional budgeting using envelopes and spreadsheets obsolete. Now, teens and young adults can download free mobile apps that will help them monitor their monthly outgoings, set spending limits, create savings goals, and learn about the importance of setting aside money for a rainy day.

Mint and YNAB (You Need a Budget) are two free budgeting apps that are great for high school and university students. With user-friendly graphs and charts, alerts that keep track of regular spending, and syncing across multiple devices, they’re fantastic for young adults and parents alike. Your family’s finances will undoubtedly be in better shape once you start using one of these apps, and your children will begin developing good financial habits that will last a lifetime.

Margaret Lipman writes about health, nutrition, education, and money-saving tips for families on websites such as Little Bundle

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