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Encouraging Your Child to Be Financially Responsible in College

Give your child the gift of financial literacy and independence by encouraging your child to be financially responsible in college. Watch them grow into confident, responsible money managers who can navigate the complexities of personal finance with ease.

Throughout their formative years, parents impart numerous valuable lessons to their children. They teach them practical skills like tying shoelaces, maintaining oral hygiene, and displaying good manners. They educate them on the importance of behaving well in school, treating others with respect and kindness, and cultivating a receptive attitude towards learning. Parents also guide their children in acquiring skills such as riding a bike, navigating public transportation (The Discoverer), and eventually driving a car. They instill healthy habits regarding nutrition, exercise, and overall well-being. Moreover, parents teach children the art of giving and receiving love, nurturing their emotional development.

However, despite covering these fundamental life lessons, many parents fall short in a crucial aspect: financial education. Failing to teach children how to manage money responsibly can lead to significant financial challenges when they become adults. Without proper guidance, they may unknowingly stumble into financial pitfalls.

It is crucial to start teaching children about money management from an early age. This can involve giving them an allowance, helping them open a bank account, and engaging in discussions about budgeting, saving, investing, and the potential risks of credit card debt. Even if they are already away at college and possibly developing poor financial habits, it’s never too late to begin educating them. As a parent, your role never ends, so take the opportunity to visit them on campus or have meaningful conversations when they come home for a weekend. It is vital that they comprehend the responsibilities associated with earning and spending money for several reasons.

Firstly, they are likely spending the money you currently provide. Many parents make the mistake of equipping their college-bound children with credit cards for “expenses.” However, the interpretation of such a broad term leaves room for various discretionary spending. Even if you specify the card’s purpose, such as solely for food, your children might extend it to cover hosting a block party or feeding a large group. Consequently, it should not come as a surprise if they max out the card’s limit and subsequently request additional cash from you. Ideally, you should contribute to fixed costs like tuition and books, which you can directly pay for. It is essential for your children to secure part-time jobs to cover their discretionary expenses. However, even then, they may struggle to manage their finances effectively.

Regrettably, the poor money-handling habits they develop during this period can have long-lasting consequences. Without an understanding of responsible financial management, they may fall prey to detrimental credit offers, accumulate substantial debt with no viable means of repayment, and find themselves confronting collection agencies or even legal repercussions. At the very least, their credit scores may suffer. If you wish for your children to maintain the ability to sign a lease or purchase a home in the future, it is imperative to teach them the principles of financial responsibility at present. And if they show resistance to learning, it may be necessary to consider the prospect of cutting them off financially. Suddenly being thrust into a position where they must shoulder their own financial burdens will provide a valuable lesson in money management.

Tips for Encouraging Your Child to Be Financially Responsible in College:

  1. Start early: Teach your children about money management from a young age. Give them an allowance and discuss basic concepts like budgeting, saving, and spending wisely.
  2. Open a bank account: Help your child open a bank account and explain how it works. Teach them about the importance of tracking their expenses, monitoring their balance, and avoiding overdrafts.
  3. Set a good example: Be a role model when it comes to financial responsibility. Show your child how you handle money, make informed decisions, and prioritize savings and investments.
  4. Discuss budgeting: Sit down with your child and discuss budgeting techniques. Help them create a budget that includes their income (part-time job, allowance) and expenses (tuition, books, rent, food). Encourage them to stick to the budget and make adjustments when necessary.
  5. Teach the value of saving: Emphasize the importance of saving money for future goals and emergencies. Encourage your child to set aside a portion of their income regularly and explain how compound interest can help their savings grow over time.
  6. Introduce them to credit: Teach your child about the responsible use of credit. Explain how credit cards work, interest rates, and the consequences of excessive debt. Encourage them to use credit cards sparingly and pay off the balance in full each month.
  7. Discuss student loans: If your child needs to take out student loans, explain the implications of borrowing money and the importance of repaying the loans on time. Help them understand the terms and conditions, interest rates, and the impact of student loan debt on their financial future.
  8. Encourage part-time work: Encourage your child to find a part-time job during college. Working can help them develop a strong work ethic, gain financial independence, and cover their personal expenses.
  9. Provide guidance, not handouts: Instead of giving your child a credit card for unlimited expenses, discuss what you’re willing to support financially and what they need to manage on their own. This helps them develop a sense of responsibility and accountability.
  10. Communicate regularly: Stay in touch with your child about their finances. Offer guidance, answer their questions, and address any concerns they may have. Regular communication ensures they feel supported and can turn to you for advice when needed.

Remember, teaching financial responsibility is an ongoing process. Be patient, reinforce positive behaviors, and help your child learn from their mistakes.

Final Thoughts:

Encouraging your child to be financially responsible in college is of utmost importance as it sets the foundation for their long-term financial well-being. During college, they face newfound independence and financial choices that can shape their future. Teaching them about budgeting, saving, and responsible credit card usage equips them with vital skills to manage their expenses, avoid debt traps, and build a strong financial future. By instilling financial responsibility early on, you empower them to make informed decisions, cultivate good money habits, and develop the resilience needed to navigate the challenges of adulthood. Ultimately, this knowledge empowers them to achieve financial stability, pursue their dreams, and live a life free from the burden of financial stress.

About Julee: Julee Morrison is an experienced author with 35 years of expertise in parenting and recipes. She is the author of four cookbooks: The Instant Pot College Cookbook, The How-To Cookbook for Teens, The Complete Cookbook for Teens, and The Complete College Cookbook. Julee is passionate about baking, crystals, reading, and family. Her writing has appeared in The LA Times (Bon Jovi Obsession Goes Global), Disney's Family Fun Magazine (August 2010, July 2009, September 2008), and My Family Gave Up Television (page 92, Disney Family Fun August 2010). Her great ideas have been featured in Disney's Family Fun (Page 80, September 2008) and the Write for Charity book From the Heart (May 2010). Julee's work has also been published in Weight Watchers Magazine, All You Magazine (Jan. 2011, February 2011, June 2013), Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine (Oct. 2011), Red River Family Magazine (Jan. 2011),, and more. Notably, her article "My Toddler Stood on Elvis' Grave and Scaled Over Boulders to Get to a Dinosaur" made AP News, and "The Sly Way I Cured My Child's Lying Habit" was featured on PopSugar. When she's not writing, Julee enjoys spending time with her family and exploring new baking recipes.
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