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  1. Sit down with your child and list anticipated expenses for the semester. Include books, groceries, dinners out, clothing, toiletries, transportation, parking and any other recurring expenses. Consider padding the amount by 10 or 20 percent (to cover unanticipated things). Total it all up, and divide the amount by the number of weeks in the semester. That’s your child’s weekly spending limit. Whether you provide it or she earns it herself, emphasize that she needs to stick to her plan so she doesn’t run out of cash before the semester ends.  
  2. With a budget in place, have your child keep track of where (and how fast!) the funds are going. Two free tools, Mint and Quicken Online, will help prevent an “uh-oh, I’m out of money” crisis. To encourage financial independence (even if she's getting help), make clear that the quicker she masters managing her money, the better she'll be set up for life after school.
  3. As they strike out on their own, it's easy for college students to think "well, this is what it costs." Remind your child that there are plenty of deals out there for college students―all he has to do is look. Ask at restaurants, museums and concerts if there’s a student discount. Computer and electronics companies often offer hefty deals to college students. And have your child look for his books online, where it’s easy to compare prices, before he heads to the campus bookstore.
  4. Campuses are rife with free entertainment (concerts, art galleries, comedy shows, readings). Many also have a health clinic that offers free appointments and prescription medicines. A good online resource for freebies? Heyitsfree.org, which lists offers for free food, drinks, toiletries, and more. Tell your kid to bookmark it!
  5. Look for a financial institution that has at least one ATM on your child's campus, and have him open an account with no monthly maintenance fee or no minimum balance. Citibank, TD and other banks offer such accounts just for college students. Discuss online bill payment and mobile check deposits and help set up calendar alerts to remind him when bills are due.
  6. Debit, credit and prepaid credit cards are all viable options, depending on how much you trust your kid to steer clear of debt. For a credit card, look for one with no annual fee, a low limit and a low annual percentage rate. Set ground rules. Perhaps you'll let her charge only gas (no charging late-night pizza deliveries!) and will require that she pay the bill in full each month. Emphasize why she should never carry a balance and explain how paying only the minimum means huge additional costs down the road.  
  7. At the end of four years (give or take), your child will have earned a shiny new diploma. But at what cost? Keep track of student loans and what your child’s payments will be after graduation. If the monthly amount will leave your child cash-strapped for years to come (more than $500 or so is a red flag), look for scholarships or other funding.
  8. Medical debt is the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States. Thanks to these online tools and tricks, you can get the care you need for less.
  9. This easy system helps you keep track of the best prices for your favorite products: You'll know at a glance if you're getting a deal.