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Have you talked money with your college student recently?

Many parents are excited about spending time with their college kids who will be coming home for Thanksgiving in a few short days.  This time together provides an excellent opportunity to talk about the financial aspects of their college life.  There are a few topics that are important to discuss.
Is the financial discussion primarily a freshman focus or does it apply to all college students?
It really applies to students of all ages and perhaps even to those who have recently graduated. Student life changes each year from where they live, how they pay for food, the types of entertainment they enjoy or even the clothes they need.  Plus, like all of us, having a refresher on making smart financial decisions is always worthwhile.
Where should a parent start when it comes to talking about money with their students?
The best place to start is to find out if they have any idea of how much money they are spending each week or month and if they have a general idea of where their money is going.  This is important because this is the basis of being a smart spender.
What else should be discussed with college students?
The next discussion point is to talk about credit card or other debt the student may have incurred during the first few months at school.  This is important so that they realize their true financial situation and don’t just look at the balance in their checking and savings account.
What if a student has no idea of where or how much money they are spending?
As a parent this should be a red flag that your student might be heading towards a financial disaster. This lack of knowledge means we should dig deeper and ask them to review their checking account to start getting answers.  It could be they just don’t really spend a lot of money while at school or it could mean they are spending out of control.
Are there any tools that parents should recommend to their students?
A couple of important tools are using online and mobile access to keep track of their account balances and using account alerts, especially low balance alerts can be key in helping students avoid account charges.  Having students use online budget tracking tools that will help them know where their money is going is another great suggestion.
Should any future planning be part of this discussion?
Yes, now is a good time to get them to discuss their Christmas and Spring break plans.  If they plan to travel during either or both of those breaks then ask them how they intend to pay for their trips. Planning in advance might help them find an alternative to using a credit card to pay for these trips.
How can parents avoid these discussions being confrontational?
First and foremost, don’t be judgmental about where they spend their money.  Secondly, don’t press for specific details on every expense when it doesn’t matter. Finally, remember your goal is to get them to think for themselves.  Don’t tell them what to do rather give them suggestions on things that might help their situation.

Posted: 11/19/2015 with 0 comments

Categories: College, Money Matters, Students

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