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If you’re anything like my parents or 99% of the parents in America, you want your children to go to college. What you don’t want though, is to spend a lot of money in the process. Between application fees, tuition, housing, meal plans, transportation and textbooks, it seems impossible to escape those four fleeting years without any debt. But don’t worry! Here are a few ways to help stop the debt before it begins:

Teach your children to save at a young age: Starting with my first pet-sitting job when I was 12, my parents taught me to save at least 60% of whatever I earned. Even though I never had a “real” job in high school, I still had plenty of babysitting or pet-sitting jobs that have significantly cushioned my college funds. They also taught me to spend sparingly. Did I really need to spend $5 on mediocre coffee whenever I went out with my friends? No! Those little expenses add up!

Don’t Apply to Every Single College: Most colleges charge a minimum application fee of $50. Yikes! It’s good to have a safe school, a reach school, and a fallback school when applying. Doing otherwise can rack up the application fees. Plus, with out-of-state tuition being so expensive, there is a lot of incentive to keep the number of out-of-state colleges to which you apply, to a minimum.

How have you prepared your children for college expenses?

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