Sending your son or daughter off to college can be very nerve racking for Moms and Dads. Across the country there is a feeling of vulnerability that a lot of parents experience as they say good bye to having their kids safe and sound under their roofs. Nevertheless, the college experience simultaneously allows students to begin experiencing more freedoms including managing their time, their finances, and their responsibilities. All of these new experiences are an essential part of the maturation process; but they provide greater opportunities for problems as well. Many times these problems can arise from simple naivety and exposure to things they have never faced before. There are some steps that Mom and Dad can take to reduce the likelihood their son or daughter will find themselves dealing with issues that can distract them from their studies or, worse yet, haunt them for many years beyond college.
ID theft is a multibillion dollar problem worldwide, and even the most cautious of individuals can be suspect to it. For a relatively small annual fee, you can get credit fraud protection that will notify you any time there is activity on your credit report. An unsuspecting 18 year old can be a prime target for these types of thieves to grab their identity and cause major damage before you have any clue. A regular check of their credit coupled with some protection will go a long way to reducing the chances of this happening.
Going off to college and having a social life that includes eating out, going out with friends, taking weekend trips, going to concerts, and attending games creates memories that will often last a lifetime. But many times these things come fast and furious and students don’t have the experience to properly manage all these choices or, more importantly, the cost of these choices very well. Providing your new college student with smaller balances that get replenished more frequently is often a good way to oversee how they are doing on a regular basis. Ask your student to keep a record and provide you a report of expenses prior to receiving their next installment of funds.
College can be a good time to begin establishing some credit history. Work with your bank to get your son or daughter a credit card with a $500 to $1500 balance that you have online access to. Talk with your kids about how the card should be used. Most importantly, put them in charge of paying it off each month. These are lesson that are better learned now under your supervision than in a few years when you have no control or access.
As parents we are hopeful that college is a gateway to a successful and productive life for our grown children. However, all of the learning that will lead to their success doesn’t always take place in the classroom. Help your kids avoid the financial pitfalls that so many Americans fall into because they just didn’t have the financial education to know better.