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Send off that college student without busting your budget

Just as parents can go overboard spending for the arrival of a baby, they can do so again when that child leaves for college.

According to the National Retail Federation, last fall on average college students and their parents spent close to $1,000.

Here’s how to send your kid to college without busting your budget.

•Don’t overthink things

Sure, you need to sort out what you need, but keep your perspective. Think necessities. “Try to avoid impulse buys. Just because it rains more than you're used to where you plan to go to college doesn't mean you need to buy a raincoat, rubbers, umbrella, snow shoes, boots, heated gloves and a parka. An umbrella might be enough,” says Mark Kantrowitz, publisher and vice president of research for

•Know what your college requires and allows

“The best advice anyone gave me was to use the college supply list, rather than a local retailer. Stores will likely push you to buy things that are nice to have, but could be banned in your child’s room,” says Leah Ingram, author of The Complete Guide to Paying for College.

She speaks from experience. “A slow cooker seems like a great idea for a foodie college student. But we discovered, after buying one for our daughter, that unless the slow cooker has an auto-off timer on it, it’s considered a fire hazard and our child could be fined for having one in her room. So now my husband and I have an extra slow cooker in our kitchen because our daughter couldn't keep it with her at college."

•Forget about buying a car

Your child may try to convince you that they can’t get along without a car. Don’t believe the hype.

“In the 2016-2017 school year, 214 national universities reported that less than half of students brought cars to campus," says Alex Lauderdale, a transportation analyst at "That means the majority get by with no car. They walk, get rides from friends, ride-share, and take public transportation.”

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