Happy Labor Day everyone! This is the weekend that everyone is supposed to sport white pants for the last time this year, soak in as much sun as possible as we kiss summertime goodbye, and for college students, time to make the trek back to campus for the fall semester. But though college kids might have already shipped off for school, as any parent knows just because they’re out of sight doesn’t mean they are out of mind. Thoughts about their safety, well-being, and success in school stay with parents, as do (or should!) concerns about their financial stability. That’s a valid concern, since many college students are without an income, living away from home sometimes for the very first time. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, talks with your college-aged kids about finances are so crucial to their development and understanding of managing money, and can honestly mold their future based on what they learn today. Nobody says it better than Gail MarksJarvis of the Chicago Tribune:
“The hunt for extra-long sheets for the dormitory bed is over. You’ve packed your child off to college, equipped with all the gear needed for campus life.
But there’s still time to talk with your student, however remotely, about money – especially credit cards.
Students typically are naive about high interest rates, penalties from missing payments, and the lousy credit scores that will hound them for years if they don’t give such matters proper attention now. Many adults in money trouble today started burying themselves with credit-card debt in college.”
Click here to read MarksJarvis’s solutions and suggestions to the college student’s financial scenarios.
One of the reporter’s suggestions is subbing a credit card for a debit card, which is a brilliant idea because then college kids can’t spend more than they actually have in their accounts. But still, the talk is necessary. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating that when I went away to college, my folks didn’t have “the” talk with me about money, budgeting, credit, and so forth. Money was something of a taboo topic in my household, and I never saw my parents balance a checkbook, work with a budget, or ever talk about finances except to tell my little sister that money doesn’t grow on trees when she’d ask for some cash to go see a movie. Needless to say, I had to as they say “learn as you go” when it came to finances and credit history, and it definitely came with some bumps in the road. Sure, I’m schooled now, but that’s after many years of experience and educating myself. Save your college kids the pain of a lousy credit score because they didn’t understand the way a credit history works, and have that talk.