Last Minute Financial Wisdom to Pass to Your College Freshmen
By Michelle P. Sharrow, MBA
In a few weeks many families will bid adieu to their teenagers as they sail away to begin their first year of college. Stock full of late nights, fun and independence, their decisions this year could change their lives forever. With that in mind as you cherish these last weeks of quality time; take a moment to discuss appropriate financial behaviors. Give them sound advice and alternatives on managing money and avoiding credit card debt.
It is easy for young eager freshmen to spend all of their money within the first weeks of being on campus. If your teen doesn't have a checking account, consider purchasing a reloadable visa debit card to help him manage his money. Available online or through major banks such as Wachovia, reloadable visas can be used at ATM machines and over 30 million participating merchants. Additionally, you or your teenager can load or reload money to the card with ease. Another advantage of the card is that itemized statements and online reporting make it easy to track inflows and outflows. Without cash in hand, your teen may be less likely to make impulse purchases.
Bypassing Credit Cards
Enticed with free tee shirts, water bottles, and other tchotchkes, freshmen are prime targets for new credit cards. While credit cards are good tools for establishing credit, freshmen year is not the time to get one. Unless your teenager has a monthly stipend, work-study, or other job, encourage him to bypass the credit card offers and freebies. Discuss some of the negative consequences of instant gratification gone wild, such as the inability to get certain jobs upon graduation and the impact they can have on credit report.
Finally, if it is within your means, consider sending care packages to your teen to deter him from freebies he would not otherwise use. Place his favorite toiletries, snacks, and other cool gadgets in a box along with a personal note and drop it in the mail. Stores like the Container Store make intriguing little gifts that are perfect for care packages.
Now is your last chance to talk with your teenager about being financially responsible. Don't let the time slip away.
© 2007. Michelle P. Sharrow, MBA.
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