Cornerstone Bookkeeping Services

Preparing your college student for the world of finances

Financial calculator

When your child takes the first steps into college life, they won’t have you in the same household, giving advice on managing money.

Your child’s first year in college can be a marvelous time to discover new academic opportunities and make new friends. No doubt this budding young freshman will be making memories.

But one of them, sadly enough, could be the memory of making financial mistakes that could hurt them for years.

When your child takes the first steps into college life, they won’t have you in the same household, giving advice on managing money. How can you help them make wise decisions? Here are a few valuable points to remember:

1. Don’t be Santa Claus. By that we mean responsibility is important on both your end as well as your child’s. If you send a casual note about dropping $1000 into their checking account without guidelines on how to spend it, you’re giving the impression of being a living, breathing ATM that’ll bail your child out if they overspend. If you don’t have rules on how the money is to be spent, you’ll run the risk of getting a call for book money before the first semester is halfway through. You never told your child that eating out (and even paying for everyone at the table) every night was not economical, did you? It’s best to give stipulations on how your money is to be spent on campus.

2. Start saving now … and we mean now. Even putting aside an extra $500 can take a chunk out of bills owed at graduation time. Any money coming in from Grandma, or a summer job, or a refund should be tucked away in order to prepare for the onslaught of financial needs in the years to come. Plan on ten or twenty percent of your child’s after-school job paycheck to be set aside. It takes self-control to be able to resist spending on a fashionable sweatshirt or new purse, but the long-term rewards will be worth it. Remind your child of this often.

3. Discuss the small gremlins of college finances. Sure, everyone is aware of tuition, room and board, but don’t forget the other little gremlins that’ll eat away at your savings, like calculators and cold medicine. What if a particular class requires a special textbook/workbook that cannot be purchased used, since it is to be annotated and marked up with your child’s notes? What if a special software is needed for a class? What happens if your child’s computer needs repaired? From toiletries to cell phone bills, your child needs to be aware that financial challenges arise often on campus, so it’s best to be prepared.

Get your child ready for the university experience without the financial panic. Help your child pursue any available financial assistance for which they qualify, whether grants, scholarships, loans, or even work-study programs. Your child’s educational future can be cleared of the many money obstacles that many students encounter.

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