PFME Guide On How to Live for Free Off-Campus

One of the major expenses in almost everyone’s monthly budget is housing expenses. Being a college student is no different; unless you live at home, you’re going to incur a significant expense to have a roof over your head. You might be surprised to find that there are ways around that and maybe even make a few dollars.

First, you’ll need to find a place to live that can comfortably house several people. In most cases, you’re looking for a decent-sized house.

 Basically, you have two options for the property:

1.   Buy it. Unless you’re an exceptional 18 year-old in exceptional circumstances, you’re probably going to need the help of your parents to purchase a home. This is especially true if you’re going to school full time instead of working. But it might not be a hard sell if you explain the following to your parents:

  • Your parents could actually make money on the deal. Imagine buying a house and then renting it out to 5-8 people. If all the expenses are $800, and you charge 6 people $250 each, that’s a profit of $700 a month and you can live there for free.
  • You’ll be there to ensure that the property is cared for properly. What could be better than having a family member watching the property?
  • At the end of your academic career, the option would be there to sell the property or keep it and continue renting it out.

2.  Lease it. This option might be a little more challenging, but it’s accomplished all the time. You can find a house to lease yourself and then find roommates. Find enough people and charge enough money to pay all the bills and have something left over.

  • The only challenge is finding a landlord that will let you sublease. Most don’t like the idea, but there is always someone that won’t mind. Most landlords stay pretty happy as long as the bills are getting paid. If you keep the numbers under control, you’re unlikely to have any problems.
  • Spend a couple of days on the phone and call people with homes for rent. It might take a couple of days, but in the end you’ll make/save thousands of dollars. When is the last time you made thousands of dollars in a couple of days? And all you have to do is talk on the phone.

Finding Renters

 This can be tough your first year, but the key is to plan ahead. Get out to the university early, preferably in the spring before everyone takes off for the summer. Plaster the area with flyers and take advantage of any social media opportunities. Be sure your flyers stand out; college campuses are covered with them.

Something simple like this is enough:

 “Great house available, Near Campus… Cheap! I need roommates to share the costs. Call 555-555-5555”

 Always get a deposit, preferably a non-refundable one. In some states, you can spend the deposit however you want. In other states you must save the deposits (if the deposit is refundable).

This strategy will take some work, but it’s not difficult at all. Find and control a house that will hold a few people and find some renters. You can live for free, and even possibly make a few hundred dollars each month in the process.

Five Important Factors to Consider About Credit Cards For Your College Student

It isn’t easy sending kids off to college. You know they’ll still depend on you for some financial support, even though you think it’s time for your child to experience life on their own. One of the biggest questions you may struggle with is the whole credit card issue.

College Students and Credit Cards – What to Consider

You may ask yourself if it’s the right thing to do to turn your teen into a credit-card-carrying adult with no strings attached.  It is our belief at PFME that credit card usage leads to mismanagement of your finances, resulting in spending money that you don’t have to impress people that you don’t like. We do realize that not everyone feels that way.

Not so long ago, new college students were flooded with credit card applications and could easily apply for and receive a card without their parents even knowing about it. However, this situation changed dramatically after the passage of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009. This act made it more difficult for a student under 21 to get a credit card without his parents’ approval.

When questioning whether your college student might do well with a credit card, consider these points:

  1. Has he had any money management experience? Perhaps you’ve let him use one of your cards in the past. Maybe he received an allowance or worked at a part-time job during high school. These things teach your child about money—how to get it, save it, and use it as he’s maturing.
    • By the time he’s ready for college, you’ll know how he’s handled money in the past. Use that info when deciding whether he should go off to school with his own credit card.
  2. How does your college student handle receiving, budgeting, and spending money? By now, you have a decent idea about how your son or daughter approaches the whole money thing. Does he spend every cent right away or carefully save a certain percentage?
  3. What are the college’s arrangements for payments of dorm and meal costs? These facts can play a major role in the credit card decision.
    • If your kid will be living in a dorm, room and board is usually required to be paid in a lump sum beforehand, which you could do.
    • Most colleges now have a meal card arrangement, which means each dorm dweller is provided with a meal card that’s scanned to “pay for” meals. So, no credit card is really necessary.
  4. Think about making your college student an authorized user on your credit card account. A card is issued on your account in the student’s name. Your monthly statement will show your child’s purchases.
    • Designating your college student as an authorized user on your card account is great because you can set the monthly limit on his card. Some credit-card-issuing institutions even allow you to change your student’s monthly limits as you like.
    • For example, if you know next semester’s dorm charges are due in December, you can bump up the monthly limit for December to $2,000 or whatever is required. Select the lowest monthly limit possible.
    • Handling the credit card dilemma by making your child an authorized user on your account gives your student a chance to show his financial chops while you monitor and control the amount available for his spending.
  5. Consider a secured credit card. Especially good for college students, a secured credit card account requires a certain amount of collateral be placed on the account, like $300 to $500. This deposit is placed in a low-interest-bearing bond or money market where it will be held up to one year.
    • If your student shows he can pay monthly credit card bills on time consistently, he’ll eventually receive back the initial deposit. In essence, your kid is rewarded for responsible, consistent money management skills when using a secured credit card.

Take the above points into account when you’re trying to decide whether your college student would do well with a credit card. Again, it is the belief of PFME that credit cards should be avoided whenever possible, using debit cards when practical.



***A NOTE on Political Correctness: The use of the pronouns he and him, etc. are used in a gender neutral fashion. Placing he/she and him/her throughout an article makes it difficult to read and frankly looks stupid. If you are unaware of the past practice of using the male terms in a gender neutral manner or are offended by the lack of female pronouns, then I’m sorry for your lack of education and your P.C. attitude.**


Back to School Savings: Special Report

Back to school time can be an expensive experience in these challenging economic times. We all want to do everything we can to ensure our kids have all that they need for a successful school year. There are many steps that you can take to see to it that your child(ren) have all that is needed.
In this month’s special report, we detail many ways to stretch your back to school funds.

How to Build a Savings Plan for Your Children

One of the best ways you can provide for your children is to create a savings plan for them when they’re young and contribute to it gradually. As your children grow, so, too, will their savings.

You may also consider investing for your child, provided that the investments are wise and promise a decent return over time.

Creating a savings and investment strategy can be beneficial for both you and your children so when they grow up they’ll be in a solid financial situation during their college years.

Consider these options to build savings for your children:

  1. Open a savings account. Savings accounts don’t have a high rate of return, but what they do offer is a safe place for you to put your child’s money over time. This is the most basic option available, but may be a good place to start.
    • When opening an account, read the fine print about fees and minimum deposits, so you can choose something that works for you.
    • The savings accounts available to you may actually vary from bank to bank, so look at a few different options before you settle on the best savings account for your child.


  2. Invest in a CD. A CD or Certificate of Deposit is a low risk, low return type of investment that typically locks your funds in place for a specific period of time. The term length you choose may impact the interest rate. You can choose the term length, such as 5 years or 10, 15, 20, and so on, depending on your needs.
  3. Invest in a College Savings Plan. Also known as a 529 plan, this is a tax-advantaged plan designed to encourage saving for higher education expenses. Growth on these accounts from interest is tax-deferred, and, when needed, withdrawals may continue to be tax-free when applied to specific educational expenses.
    • There are two different types of 529 college savings plans. The first is a prepaid tuition plan and the second is a savings plan. Each of these types have different basic mechanisms for use and are available in specific areas, so check with your state for what would work best for you.
    • Prepaid tuition plans are available in 13 of the 50 states and allow for pre-purchase of the child’s tuition based on the current rates. They pay out when the beneficiary enters into college.
    • Savings plans base your account earnings on the market performance of whatever underlying investments there are, such as mutual funds, for example. These plans are administered by the state and available in 49 of the 50 states and Washington D.C.
  4. Utilize a custodial account. This is a savings account or certificate account held in a minor’s name. The dividends are registered under the social security number of the child, though your name will be listed as the custodian for the account.
    • With this type of account, you can transfer funds to the minor while still managing the account. Once the funds are deposited, they become the property of the minor and can only be used to benefit the minor.
    • When the minor reaches legal age, funds are turned over to him or her.

These are just some of the options available to you for preparing for your child’s future. When you consider the costs associated with raising a child and sending him or her to college, it makes sense to put a plan into place as early as you possibly can.