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How to tell college student to stop spending
Old 12-22-2019, 10:09 AM
  #1

A close friend called me Friday. She is upset with her sister and niece. Her niece is a freshman at a big southern university. Her sister’s family is middle class and most of her friends at college are very well to do. It seems her niece has spent all of the spending money she saved for the year in the first semester. It was $4,000 for the year, which I feel is more than enough. Her sister doesn’t know what to do. When I asked how she blew it, she told me her niece doesn’t like the food on the food plan so she eats off campus: sushi, natural foods, fruit bowls and smoothies. She also is getting nails done, eyelashes tinted, and clothes shopping. I told my friend it’s her sister and bil job to explain to niece about finances quickly. She tried, but they won’t listen. They want her to have the “college” experience. It is causing a big family fight and they told everyone to give her cash for Christmas. Maybe I’m old and I have boys, but are these things really necessary? I feel bad because she is so upset for her sister and doesn’t know what to do. I just said they have to give her a budget and that’s it.


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Old 12-22-2019, 10:18 AM
  #2

Kids have a tough time figuring out the difference between "freedom" and "excessive". Although it's not abnormal to overspend in college, when you have a child that does that you have to put them on a budget. When they spend it, they're done. If they want to spend more than that, they need to find a job.

Budgets are a part of life. She needs to learn it now.
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Old 12-22-2019, 10:28 AM
  #3

I would tell her to keep out of it. Give the niece whatever cash she would have spent on a gift, and that is it. Maybe she could write a note in the card giving some financial advice (How to make a budget) or offer to work with her on making a plan, but otherwise, it isn’t her child, so I don’t know what she would do about it. Unless dB and bsil are expecting family to cover the difference, why would there be a family fight about it? If my niece needed money and I didn’t feel like it was my job to supply it, I would just kindly defer. They want her to have a big experience, then they can figure out ways to pay for it. Not my job.
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Old 12-22-2019, 10:32 AM
  #4

Its very unfortunate that this couple did not teach their daughter about finances when she was in high school and living at home. Now is time for them to teach that lil girl a life lesson that everyone (yes everybody) has a bottom of the barrel and that has come early for her. What they need to do is give her just enough for her basic..and I mean BASIC living expenses. Maybe they even pay her food bill and then dont allow anymore $ for extra fancy food in what they give her. If she wants more fun money then she needs to earn it by finding a job either during breaks or when she is at school.

We paid for all of our boys education however...we intentionally only gave them enough for basics. If they wanted “beer” money then they had to earn it withjobs during the summer and/or winter breaks. My youngest DS got the coveted jobbof cooking at the sorority near his frat. Did this teach them that hard work pays off? Well..when our oldest son graduated he said I can gardly wait to go to work because I am SICK of being poor!” Yay!

All of our boys (30 & 35) are making over 150-200K per year, own their own houses and have no other debt. Our method worked and they learned that hard work and financial responsibility pays off. Thank you God!
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Old 12-22-2019, 10:32 AM
  #5

Her parents are paying for a meal plan, but she is going out to restaurants instead? Manicures? Eyelash tinting? Holy cow.

I am pretty floored by this. It sounds like she herself saved $4K? She's gonna learn to do without all those extras. Experience is the best teacher. She has a dorm and a meal plan and tuition covered? She won't die.

I have zero sympathy for this child. Sorry.


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Old 12-22-2019, 10:51 AM
  #6

My goodness. Time for the niece to grow up and face reality. I have zero sympathy and patience for people like her or her parents.

As a single parent I struggled to put my DDs through school, and both worked 30-35 hours a week while in college. Although they missed out on the "college experience," they learned so much more about real life than this woman's niece probably ever will unless her parents stop indulging her.

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It is causing a big family fight and they told everyone to give her cash for Christmas.
Just WOW.
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Old 12-22-2019, 11:03 AM
  #7

I'd be upset if someone told me to just give cash as a gift. It's my choice of what kind of gift to give. That being said, I too don't have any sympathy for her. She has a meal plan that she didn't use. Money wasted. As another poster said, she has a dorm and a meal plan. Time to get a job.
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Spending cash
Old 12-22-2019, 11:08 AM
  #8

Wow! I allow myself barely more than that for the whole calendar year. She will have to learn the hard way I think.

When I was in college my parents gave me $20-25 each week for pocket money and incidentals. Working wasnít a great option for me because the city was not walkable and I didnít have a car till junior year when I really needed it for field experiences. Even then I got $30-40 a week for a tank of gas and my needs. I think I had a slightly larger allowance my last semester because I had to eat off campus for lunch. My dad would just drop a little into my bank account every 2-3 weeks and when it was gone, it was gone. I learned real fast that that small amount didnít cover beers or nights out or hair cuts if I didnít ration things out. It did cover keeping snack food in my fridge and a slice of pie at the diner across the road and maybe a movie out once every couple months.
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Old 12-22-2019, 11:09 AM
  #9

I’m not sure how eating out all the time and getting your eyelashes tinted and nails done is part of the “college experience” but if that’s what your friend’s sister and BIL believe that’s between them and their daughter. It’s also between them how those luxuries get covered. Your friend should avoid giving advice and voicing opinions unless asked or gets requests for $$$. Telling everyone to give money for a gift is definitely rude. Too bad they don’t tell DD that working is often part of the college experience too.

I wonder if they know about Dave Ramsey.
https://www.daveramsey.com/store/pro...-anthony-oneal
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Old 12-22-2019, 11:23 AM
  #10

Not her circus, not her monkeys!

I would give the gift I wanted. If it's cash, then I'd give what I would have spent on a material gift.

As for how I would handle it if I was the sister. I'd put a set amount in an account and that's all she gets. If it's gone in 3 weeks it's the students problem. Shell learn quickly! Most campuses, especially large universities, have many options for all so I think the student is choosing not to eat on campus because that's what she WANTS to do.

My kids went to college with the understanding that we paid for college....room, tuition, campus dining plan, books. Anything extra was on them and they earned money every summer to support that.


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Old 12-22-2019, 11:52 AM
  #11

People give whatever gift they choose.

If she were my daughter sheíd have a dorm bed, the meal plan ticket and pretty much nothing else. Iíd also make the strong suggestion that she get a part-time job now. Itís part of many college experiences. Maybe sheíll grow up to be an educated, independent woman and not a coddled princess.
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Old 12-22-2019, 12:01 PM
  #12

Huh. And here I thought the "college experience" was, you know, learning stuff and preparing for a career. I'm afraid she wouldn't get a red cent from me and I'd stay well out of the argument, too, because nobody would want to know what my real opinion is.
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Spendthrift college student
Old 12-22-2019, 12:27 PM
  #13

It makes me sad that anyone would equate the "college experience" to spending money carelessly, eating fancy foods, getting nails and eyelashes done, and shopping for clothes. Whatever happened to studying academics, discovering hidden talents, exploring suitable career options, and challenging oneself intellectually?

Your friend's niece and her family are likely in for a rude awakening one day. But I agree with others, your friend should stay out of it. Other than a modest monetary gift (if that is what she would normally do at this time of year), she needs to let this issue go. Not her circus, not her monkey.

PS. The young person in question also needs to learn that keeping up with wealthier classmates who can spend carelessly due to being subsidized by their parents is an impossible and foolish quest. She needs to base her self worth on more than money.
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Old 12-22-2019, 01:21 PM
  #14

She needs to get a part time job.
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Old 12-22-2019, 01:37 PM
  #15

Wow! If she is in a dorm and has a meal plan, she has the basics covered. The sister should stay out of it and if she has already bought a gift, then that's what she should give her. If not, maybe a gift card or cash. If it was my kid, I would not be giving them any more money for the next semester. She would have to forego the shopping and beauty treatments for a few months. She needs to learn this now. So many young people get into financial trouble because no one makes them learn how to be fiscally responsible.

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Old 12-22-2019, 03:08 PM
  #16

It's not an aunt's business to have anything to do with it. If she normally gives a gift, she can do so (money and/or gift cards are kind of the norm for a college student so that doesn't seem weird to me.)

If her sister asks for her advice, she should suggest tough love and encouragement to find a part time job. It sounds like sister doesn't want that advice, so there's not much she can do.

If it comes up, my advice about college jobs is always to look for stuff with flexible scheduling. I worked freshman year in the cafeteria so I could get on the banquet server list and was able set my own schedule for banquets the rest of college. One of my sons did event parking, mostly for sporting events on weekends. Working events at the theater and/or concert venue would be good too. Babysitting jobs can probably be found at the job center.
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Old 12-22-2019, 04:58 PM
  #17

Your friendís sister needs to sit down with her daughter and show her the math. It is so easy to spend because whatever was purchased the day before is already forgotten. People, not just young people, quickly forget what theyíve spent, especially when a credit card is used.

In one way I agree that it isnít the auntís monkey or circus but she does have the opportunity to have a positive influence on her niece. If family doesnít discuss money then how are the younger ones going to learn?

When my niece and nephew graduated from high school I gave them a book called The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke by Suze Orman. My nephew has become very good with his money. His cousins often call him for advice.

Does your friend typically give her niece a gift? If so, I would give her a cash gift but Iíd put it in the middle of a book about money.
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Old 12-22-2019, 07:09 PM
  #18

I'd advise her friend to stay out of her sister's drama.
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Get a job
Old 12-22-2019, 07:34 PM
  #19

My daughter worked and took a full load of studies. I paid her cell phone . Back a few years ago you only had so many minutes on a plan . If she went over even by 1 minute . It was pay up . I paid for her apt.and gave her 200 dollars a month on a Walmart card for gas and food . Proud to say today , she is a great money manager. Yes, there are people who donít have to worry about the everyday things in life but reality is you never know . Hope they get it figured out.
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Old 12-22-2019, 08:24 PM
  #20

Quote:
Experience is the best teacher. She has a dorm and a meal plan and tuition covered? She won't die.


This, 100%. If she wants more she can get a job. Just giving her more money won't teach her anything.
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This is it in a nutshell
Old 12-23-2019, 08:07 AM
  #21

Quote:
Her niece is a freshman at a big southern university. Her sisterís family is middle class and most of her friends at college are very well to do.
Was the niece prepared to live in close proximity with other students whose parents place no limit on their spending? Give the girl a break. She wants/needs to fit in with her friends. Does anyone recall what it was like to constantly say to your group of friends, "I can't go to the movies, go out clubbing, get my nails done, take that overnight outing, buy new clothes, etc., because I am POOR compared to you?"

This is about way more than self-control and fiscal responsibility. This is about shame and peer pressure. Perhaps they should have encouraged her to go to a school where she would not be the "poor starving student" surrounded by the rich and privileged. I actually feel badly for the niece, who is suffering major culture shock and unable to deal with it.
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Old 12-23-2019, 08:26 AM
  #22

I disagree with feeling sorry for her. Big southern universities are not inhabited entirely by the rich and privileged. Eighteen is not 13, and she is old enough to know about money, its value, and its scarcity. Neither you nor her parents do her any favors in giving her a pass. She need a big dose of real world. Perhaps she will turn into someone her parents and most of the world will actually respect and like.
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Old 12-23-2019, 08:41 AM
  #23

Clarity, I do remember having to say that I have to work so I can't go to that party, or I can go to the mall with you but I can't buy anything right now. I do remember using a bicycle to peddle down to the grocery store and buy ramen noodles and tomato soup, and felt no shame in being thrifty. It's hard to feel sorry for someone who is getting her eyelashes tinted. Most kids at age 18 are a bit more aware that they are not being responsible. That is, in a nutshell, the college experience...learning to be a responsible adult. Her parents are inablers. The aunt doesn't have to also be one.

But I still say stay out of it completely. Or give her a book on how to budget money. (That will certainly stir up some more drama, so I'm kidding about that.)
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Old 12-23-2019, 08:42 AM
  #24

Quote:
Does anyone recall what it was like to constantly say to your group of friends, "I can't go to the movies, go out clubbing, get my nails done, take that overnight outing, buy new clothes, etc., because I am POOR compared to you?"
Indeed I do. Life is hard--wear a helmet.
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Old 12-23-2019, 08:47 AM
  #25

Interesting side trip: When my kids were growing up we were always pretty frugal on our spending. Our kids learned to be frugal, too. When they were teens and started going out with people by themselves, they often would not want to spend money sitting in IHOP on food after a movie or whatever. They would go but not buy anything. Their friends interpreted that as they didn't have the money and would buy stuff for them, even as they protested. We definitely had more disposable income than many of her friends. My kids had money in their pocket, they just didn't want to spend it.

Younger dd wanted electronics that I refused to purchase for her, so her friends would get new replacements and give her their used older model. It drove me crazy. I didn't want her to have them, not that we couldn't afford it if we choose to. It was a constant battle of mine.
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Readjustment
Old 12-23-2019, 08:48 AM
  #26

Maybe the niece needs to look for new friends who are less shallow and more interested in actually learning something while at college.
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Old 12-23-2019, 09:13 AM
  #27

Quote:
Does anyone recall what it was like to constantly say to your group of friends, "I can't go to the movies, go out clubbing, get my nails done, take that overnight outing, buy new clothes, etc., because I am POOR compared to you?"
Uh, yes. Both my daughter and I had the experience of being music majors on scholarship at small, pricey private universities. Even when I transferred to a large public university (for reasons having nothing to do with money) I was, as a music major, quite surrounded by "trustifarians." Fortunately, both of us were focused on why we were there in the first place so passing on clubbing, manicures, expensive clothes and so forth was not a huge hardship.

Of course, I have to admit that the world of music is quite pure compared to some other disciplines. If you're a good enough musician, you will have respect even if you don't have fancy clothes and don't go out clubbing.

Still, it all comes back to why people send their kids to college in the first place and what message they send their kids about it. I'm getting some insight here into why so many college freshmen wash out academically.
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Old 12-23-2019, 11:10 AM
  #28

Sounds like the mother is making excuses for her daughter to spend so much money by saying all of that is part of the college experience.

The family's priorities are mixed up. The #1 purpose of college is to prepare yourself for a career, and thus become financially independent of parents- in other words become an adult.

It makes me think that this girl's parents are sending their daughter to this school to hopefully meet, mingle with, and marry a boy who comes from a wealthy family. If the majority of students who go to that school are wealthy, their daughter's chances of this happening would probably be higher at this school. I've actually known middle class parents with daughters who have admitted to this plan.
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Old 12-23-2019, 03:21 PM
  #29

Quote:
It makes me think that this girl's parents are sending their daughter to this school to hopefully meet, mingle with, and marry a boy who comes from a wealthy family.
I thought this was a thing of the past (1900s-1950s?), but I did some research online and found several articles of daughters presently being groomed to do exactly that: marry a rich boy.
I won't go as far as believing that this is what the parent in the OP's post has in mind, but the thought of people in this time and age engineering their daughters' lives to that extent blows me away.
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