My son has been at college a few weeks now and is really enjoying his classes. He likes the pace of college courses and is exploring his way around campus and a new city. Even with all those new things going on in his life, I’m taking the opportunity to further educate him on personal finance. It’s time to kick things up a notch, after all, he is in college now. College is a perfect time to teach my teen more about personal finance.
I’m making sure my son is involved in all of the financial processes of paying for his education. I’ve exposed him to the student loan process, made sure he’s reviewed and understood the bill for his first semester and what it consists of such as tuition, books, housing, meal plan, etc.
Every week I put a specified amount of money in his checking account, which he needs to make last for the week for any discretionary spending. This includes gas for his car, eating out, movies, etc. I want him to get used to having a specific and finite amount of funds available for spending, and have to really analyze how he’s going to spend those funds.
I believe that he will learn a few lessons as to what is and what is not worth spending his money on. But every now and then I plan to discuss with him some observations regarding his spending. For example, right now the bulk of his spending goes to eating out. He has a meal plan that allows him to eat anytime the dining hall is open, plus it has a certain amount of funds to eat at restaurants on campus. If he cuts down on restaurant spending in favor of the food choices he has available that cost him nothing additional out of pocket as he’ll have more funds for other activities or things he might want or need in his dorm room.
He does have a savings account with a substantial amount of cash in it. We talked about that being an emergency fund. I told him that emergency fund is not to be used when he wanted to buy something, but only if an emergency occurred and he absolutely needed more cash.
Of course, I also want him to feel safe and secure. While I want him to tackle more advanced topics of personal finance, and have to deal with them in a more real world setting, I also fully recognize he’s a young man and likely will make mistakes. I made sure he knew that his mom and I are there for him, and if he needs anything, or if something comes up, he can talk to us and we will make sure he has everything he needs.
College is a time of great learning for students. In addition to more advanced academics, they also need to use life skills such as doing laundry, making sure the feed themselves, and general room maintenance. This is also a great time to teach them how to handle personal finances in more of a real world setting, preparing them eventually be functioning adults on their own.
How about you Clever Friends, are you teaching your college students more about personal finance while in college? Did you take more charge of your own finances when you were in college?