OMAHA, Neb.-College students are packing their bags and getting ready to return home for the summer. For many, this past year was the first time they managed their own laundry, classes and curfew-and their own bank accounts-without their parents.
This continues as a time of transition for many young adults and their parents. They will need some help from you while they continue to grow into their new financial responsibilities and learn how to enjoy a lifetime of good money management.
Here are a few tips from Manley to help talk to your college-age students before they head back to campus next fall:
Help your student work on a budget. Budgeting goals and priorities change over time. If your child had a part-time job while he or she was in high school, the priority was probably to build a savings. A college student’s main priority is not likely to be savings, but rather to figure out how to make saved money last all semester or until summer. Parents can help a student itemize and prioritize all the things the student will have to purchase such as clothing and sundries, textbooks, the expenses of a car or cell phone.
Plan for mistakes, and let your students correct them. No matter how good the student’s budget is, mistakes are going to happen. Some of them are minor, such as when a student simply forgets to budget for working fewer hours at a part-time job during a week of exams or having to take an unpaid sick day. If that happens, a little help from mom or dad may be appropriate. But sometimes mistakes are major, the result of overspending and under-earning, and the student runs out of money before the end of the first semester. In this case, as difficult as it may be, do not bail out your student. Help him find a way to fix the problem. If the student lives on campus and you paid for a meal plan, he is not going to starve. He might have to find a way to work a few more hours, or be sure to earn a few bucks during summer break.
Have THE TALK. More specifically, the talk about credit cards, and how many credit card companies entice students to open accounts. Show your student how long it will take to pay off even a small amount of debt (here’s a handy calculator). Even a small balance of $3,000 can take as long as 10 years to pay off, and during that time the borrower would have paid more than $2,200 in interest alone. Student loans, car loans and eventually mortgages are often considered good debt. But credit cards in the hands of inexperienced users can be disastrous.
Let the student know you will be checking up. From time to time, check your student’s bank balance. Look at the expenditures and deposits, and make sure she is on-track to making her money over the summer. As time passes and the student gets better at handling money, you will be able to let her handle it without your help at all.
College is such an exciting time, and a time when young adults learn not just academic lessons, but also life lessons. They still need you to show them how to avoid making money mistakes, and how to fix the mistakes they make along the way.
About the author: Through hard work, dedication and attending both passionately and professionally to the needs of clients, Manley and his small team at his Farmers Insurance agency in Omaha, Nebraska have grown the agency into the largest Farmers Insurance agency in the state. His agency is also the second largest for the entire Farmers Insurance region. Manley’s service to the community includes support of the Siena/Francis house, Restoration Exchange, Homeward Bound animal rescue, the Ronald McDonald House, and The Stephen Center.