Most high school graduations are over, and high school seniors are getting ready to leave the nest and embark on the next chapter of their lives. For many graduates this means: college. Sending a college aged student off to school without the proper financial tools is scary. In college, it’s easy to be persuaded by other students. However, given the right tools, your college student will do just fine with money management. Whether they are staying close to home, or heading across the country, these are tips that every college age student can apply to help them be wise with their money.
Teach them how to write a check
I’m a firm believer in teaching teens how to write checks. There are still certain items and establishments that will require a check. Although it may seem like a lost art, it’s not. Do not be shy about teaching your college student in this area.
Help them get a bank account
It is hard to manage money if you do not have a bank account and know how to use it. There is something very satisfying about knowing your college student knows HOW to use their bank account. Teach them the ins and outs. Show them how to balance their bank account and to only use money if it’s in there. If your child is young, get them started now! Help them set up a savings account, teach them how to fill out a deposit slip, and let them do their own transaction. Another tool that my preteen son utilizes is his very own debit card. Greenlight is a debit card for kids,that parents can manage from their phone! This is a great way to teach your child about finances and still have flexible parental control!
What is so neat with the Greenlight debit card, is that parents can pick the stores your child is allowed to spend money at! For example, you only want to allow them at first to buy something from the book store, you can set their account up, so your child can only spend money using their card there! That is why they call this card the Greenlight, parents have to give the “green light to go”, for them to use the card! You can select stores in your area, for your child that are approved to spend money at, and they can only use the card at these stores. Any other stores will decline the card. As your child learns and grows, you can also allocate money to be used anywhere. My son took both his grandmothers and I to dinner for Mother’s Day, and used his “spend anywhere” money to do so!
Teach them that cash is best
In college it is so tempting to just open credit cards and take out student loans. What college students don’t realize is that paying interest on those items is never any fun. Teach your child how to use cash from an early age, and they will not depart from it. While credit can be nice especially for emergencies (like car repairs), it is not always nice to your budget.
Teach them about wants versus needs
This is a BIG one for our college age children! In college, your student will come across a lot of people who live above their means. When it comes to college, it really needs to be all about needs before wants. They may want a fancy pair of shoes, but your child only has the budget for a $20 pair of shoes. They may want the latest version of the iPhone, but they do not have money for it. Teach them that saving up is always the best policy! By taking the time to actually save up for the item, they may realize they do not actually want the item by the time they have enough money for it. This is what usually happened with my son.
Working will not kill you
A lot of college students go into debt because they do not want to overwhelm themselves while they go to college. Working just a few hours per week can help them from going into a financial hole. Unless they have someone willing to do this for them, this is a GREAT way to teach your college student to manage their money (using their money and not yours really helps drive home the point of money management). With a course load of 12 – 15 semester hours each semester, I worked as a Football Manager for the Georgia Southern Eagles, this allowed me to pay (scholarship) for the majority of my 4 year college degree!
Be willing and ready to teach your college student to manage their finances better. A little money management tips can go a long way!