Difficult times for college families

college familiesHere it is a little more than five weeks before Christmas and my husband has said, “We have to watch our spending.” In these hard economic times, we are all faced with the reality of job loss, decreased spending, and possibly, if not definitely, a meager Christmas. Recently, my husband’s company was bought out by another company to keep it from “going under” and although we are fine for the moment, fear has set in. We have been through restructuring before, but nothing quite like this. Each time he has been safe, but this time, we are just not sure. Initially they were told no positions would be lost, and then the following month 100 people were let go. Now there could be more before the first of the year. Scary!

The uncertainty of his job security has forced our household to revisit our financial spending. We look for options to cut costs wherever possible such as eating everything in the cupboards rather than buying extra food because you want that certain item. We look at driving distances to determine what car to take. Should we take the compact car or the van? If our children who are away at college need an extra cash flow, the interrogation focuses mostly on, do you really need that or can you do without? Care packages, with a $10 or $20 dollar bill slipped inside have become a frequent activity in our house. Doesn’t cost a whole lot, and they love getting mail and snacks for their dorm. My college children have gotten money-savvy as well. They engage themselves in outside university activities, such as signing up for drug studies, participating in surveys and finding part-time employment at the local pizza shop. Since three of my college students attend the same university, there is also much sharing among one another with items like food, toiletries, clothing, and whatever else they may need. My lone college student attending a school in the South says he has also learned a similar tactic of bartering among his dorm mates. He also enjoys participating in hosting overnight senior visits in exchange for a Wal-Mart or Target gift card. This way he shows off the campus and gets some things he may need for his personal use.

During these difficult times everyone has to find another way just in case something unpleasant should happen. My children are trying to adapt to the changing financial environment in our house. Although my husband’s job future is questionable, for the moment we are okay. Even though we are okay, we have taken steps for the “what if?” God willing, we will not fall on hard times, but hopefully we will have a plan in place to adjust to our changing household financial needs.


Understanding College Costs