I discussed with MM(20) and we are just going to send him a $1K monthly allowance for rent and groceries. Just for simplicity, as we switch to monthly housing costs. I was just paying quarterly (with tuition) when he lived in the dorms.
MM(20) only spent ~$80/month on food last school year. 🙄 & he looks starved. So I am leaning on him to spend more. I don't know that he will spend more, but I am trying. I will be sending him a flat $150/month for groceries.
Why $150? Because it makes it an even $1,000 per month, with rent. & I presume that about doubling his grocery budget should be more than ample.
I saw a conversation in the parent group recently, about what to expect to pay for food (for kids living in apartments with kitchens). $400 - $600 was pretty much all that anyone recommended. 😲 I just presumed that included eating out costs, but there were comments about how "this can be done if you meal plan" and stuff like that. Still, clearly has to be some eating out costs. MM(20) never eats out, and I expect that is most of why he keeps food costs down so low.
There was even a comment how if you don't give your kids at least $500/month, it's not fair to roommates because obviously your kid would have to steal their roommates' food.
I often feel like I live on a different planet, and this is one of those moments. The only relateable comment was someone who has a $250/budget for their kid who shops at Costco. If I can get MM(20) to actually spend $150. & I know a lot of it is that he gets a lot of free food from the girlfriend, and some free food from clubs and so one. I expect $250/month would be a decent grocery budget for MM(20) if he didn't have the 'free food' factor. (They aren't eating ramen. They are eating 4-course meals. The girlfriend is quite a chef.) Not only that, but they also take turns cooking for 2 (or more), which clearly helps to reduce their food costs.
It will be interesting to see how this year goes. With less roommates and me pushing him to spend more on groceries, he may spend a little more. He doesn't have to share a kitchen and fridge with 4 other people. That should allow for more cooking and leftovers. More room for leftovers, if nothing else.
The question mark this year is utilities and other expenses. Moving from an "absolutely everything is covered with rent" situation to a "nothing is covered with rent" situation. But the utilities should be so minimal that I think I may just reimburse him twice during the school year. & once I have a year of utility data, might just roll that into a flat monthly allowance for future years.
The school had even covered cleaning supplies, so that will be a new expense this year. I don't know how much MM(20) will pay for laundry this year and how much he will just do laundry at the girlfriend's house. (Laundry was always free in the dorms). I am sure there's things we have not thought of.
I did give MM(20) his $1K college gift this year, to use towards furnishing his apartment. Seemed the best use of this money for this school year. In the end, he's found everything for free. He even had a free bed/mattress at some point (that fell through). & he found a free bike. As of this moment, he still needs a mattress. & he might need some kitchen stuff, depending on what the roommate brings.