The boxes are starting to get packed, the clothes are being washed (possibly for the last time until Thanksgiving break), and college classes will be in the very near future for your child. Just like our CEO, Troy, you may be getting ready to send your son or daughter off for their first year at college. With that send-off, there can be a couple of questions and discussions needing to be laid-out before everything college consumes your student. One big talk is finances, and let’s just say this isn’t an easy one for many.
Searching the internet (and using personal experience), here are a few words of wisdom financially that should be passed along. In 4 years, you and your student will be grateful and thankful for sure!
Splitting College Costs
Every family is different, but there are some general rules to follow, says Andrew V. Tignanelli, a certified financial planner. “The child needs to be responsible for something substantial. Age 18 is a must time to begin to teach your child that life is full of responsibilities and handling your finances prudently is one of them. Obviously, the child who has been working and prudent in handling their finances in high school is going to need a different set of challenges from the one who has shown little or no financial responsibility. It’s best to begin these lessons slowly at much younger ages, but if that hasn’t happened, then shock therapy may be necessary.” Cutter suggests splitting costs according to categories of expense, such as tuition, room and board or rent, books, fees, and entertainment.
Working While in College
If you expect your student to contribute financially to college, you’ll need to discuss the possibility of working during the academic semester. “You don’t want your kid to have to earn so much that they fail academically or are miserable during college.” On the other hand, a highly disciplined kid who worked throughout high school and still got good grades might be OK working 10 hours or so a week during college, unlike a student who needs to put in more time and effort to succeed academically.
Avoid a Credit Card AT ALL Costs
The first time I held a credit card in my name was when I was almost 22 and had my first job far from home and in a lot of snow. And even then, I only used it when I had car trouble that I didn’t have the money for right then and there. Credit card companies tend to line-up around campuses, promising a free pizza or a newspaper subscription “just by signing-up” for a “free” credit card. This is a scam bigger than the letters from some Prince of Africa who has $1 Million to give you. Make sure your child knows to stay away from any thought of owning a credit card—if there is any financial trouble, mom and dad are a phone call away to help work it out.
If You Can Help It, Don’t Eat Out.
Meal plans, Ramen, and cereal are there for a reason. For one blogger, he writes: “I remember time after time, friends asking me to go eat out at restaurants. And I remember time after time saying ‘No thanks!’ I’m sure some thought I was being rude, but I had a goal (of saving money) and a silly thing like eating out was not going to stop me! I packed brown bag lunches and brought snacks from home as many times as I could.”
Be One with Bargain Shopping If You Go Shopping
My freshman year, I remember a friend of mine decided that “a good deal” at certain stores was getting a pair of jeans down from $200 to $150! And her basic, solid color shirts, were “a steal” when she got each one from $45 to $25. This is NOT a deal, a steal, or smart in any realm. Make friends with local thrift stores, Goodwill’s, Garage sales, and Ross if you feel the itch to buy anything really.