Tips on Teaching Your College Kids About Personal Finance

Money management is a life skill that is just as important as learning proper English grammar, yet it is often neglected. As a parent, it is your responsibility to make sure your child is not lacking in this life skill. Your child’s attitude toward money can make the difference between whether he will have a pleasant way of life in the future or one that will drag him to the pits of misery. There is no better time to teach your child proper personal finance management than when he is setting out on his own for the first time — his college days.  

Talk about money

Money is something we deal with throughout our life, yet it is a subject we rarely discuss. Before you release your child to the jungle that is college, make sure you take the time to dive deeply into the subject. Be open about issues like how you are going to cover his or her college expenses and what you might have to do if something untoward happens, like if you suddenly lose your job. Handling money matters should be a team effort for your family. The more involved your child is, the more he will be responsible for his or her own share of expenses.

Work through a budget with your child

Take the time to sit down and create a budget with your child. This will not only teach him a skill that would prove useful in life, but you can also help make sure that he does not struggle with making ends meet, or worse, end up with nothing to eat while he is miles away from home. Also, if he ends up asking you for more money, you can refer back to the budget you have prepared and work out how he ended up running short. You can then suggest ways to improve.

Make your budget as detailed and concrete as possible. Create categories, break the budget plan down by month so tracking expenses can be easier, and take the time to evaluate the plan and how your child is faring every end of the year or as you see fit.

Require them to track their spending

One of the ways you can ensure that they will stick to a budget is by having them track their spending. The young ones often do not realize how the little purchases can add up. Ask your child to track every single purchase he makes. You can recommend an app that will allow him to do this. The techie tool will make the process easier and more inviting for him. Tracking every single expense will help your child get a feel of the outflow of money, and appreciate the complexities of money management early on.

Set money boundaries

Do not hesitate to discuss with your child just what you are willing to spend on for him. While sending him to school may be your responsibility, covering, say, fraternity expenses is not. Be clear about your boundaries. Explain to your child that if he wants to be able to indulge in luxuries, he should be willing to work for it or find resources of his own. Not only will this help you avoid getting into financial trouble, you will also be able to train your child to be more resourceful. You just might be able to ignite an entrepreneurial spirit in the process.

Do not always bail your child out

Make your child feel secure by explaining that you will always try to do your part and be religious with sending out his allowance. You can even explain that you will always be there to bail him out of trouble, that he should not hesitate to seek your help. After all, the likes of money transfer are only around the corner. Instilling a sense of security in kids is important if they are to set out to the world with confidence. Still, be just as clear that your offer of assistance has its limits. And that while fortuitous events are understandable, losing money over Starbucks is not. Be clear with your boundaries, and be willing to refuse to provide assistance when your child has been irresponsibly careless with his spending habit. Make him own up to his mistakes and learn from them. More importantly, teach him to sort out his own problems and solve them on his own. This will be yet another important life skill he could learn.

Talk about the pitfalls of borrowing

Whether you are thinking of giving your child an extension account to your credit card or you are just worried about him taking debts from his friends, make sure you talk candidly about the pitfalls of borrowing. Many people find themselves in a financial mess in late adulthood because they started off on the wrong foot. There is no better time to warn your child about the dangers of getting buried in debts than when they are just setting out for college. Emphasize the importance of avoiding debts. Mention real life anecdotes if you must, and explain just how much trouble it is to have wrong credit habits.

Talk about the possibility of taking a job

Sit down with your child and seriously ruminate the possibility of taking a job. Discuss possible opportunities available, and discuss the benefits of having a part-time job. Explain that learning about the hard work it entails to earn money will help him value what he has even more and be more responsible with how he spends it. Having a job will also help him earn many life skills that he can use when he enters the real world. This will help ensure eventual success in his career endeavors. You may also help him with time management, so you can make sure he can handle juggling school and work.

Set attractive goals

You may also establish goals that your child will want to work hard for. You can teach them the value of investments and compounded interest so they can have something to strive for. You can both identify exciting things to do with savings and investments, like travel abroad or just a fatter bank account. Having something attractive to look forward to will help motivate your child to stick to the planned budget or to take on that part-time job. Ensure a good future for your child by taking the time to properly train him or her on money management. Personal finance is no small matter, and should be treated accordingly.

Author is Jason Garcia  Blogger and Business Manager www.InvestmentDad.com