Top Tips for Teaching Your Teen about Budgeting in College

Top Tips for Teaching Your Teen about Budgeting in College
Olivia Everleigh, Digital Relations Consultant with 6xdegree Media

It can feel strange to think of your teen heading off to college. Suddenly, they’re no longer a high school student living under your roof, but an adult heading out into the world on their own terms.

You’re probably feeling nervous and excited for them, as well as incredibly proud – and they’ll be feeling the same emotions. 
 
As a parent, it’s natural to want to help your teen have the best start at college. Whether they’re due to go to school next autumn or are a few years away, there are some valuable skills you can teach them. This blog post discusses budgeting – an essential part of your child’s college experience. This can be a tricky topic for many people to discuss, but there are some easy things you can do to help your teen become financially literate.

Get Them Involved with the Weekly Grocery Shopping

When your child is at college, they’ll need to be able to feed and take care of themselves, unless they’re in fully catered student accommodation. This means they need to be able to decide what to eat, know what to buy, and have an understanding of how much regular items cost. They’ll also need to be able to create a meal plan and stick to a weekly budget
 
You can help them get ahead with this even before they get their acceptance letter. Why not allow them to choose some meals for the week, or take them to the grocery store with you so they can see how quickly expenses add up? Giving your child hands-on experience can mean they feel more confident with this aspect of their college experience when they arrive on campus.

Help Them Understand Their Spending Habits

If your child is one of the 5.5 million American teens with a job alongside school, they will likely have some disposable income. Alternatively, you may give them an allowance in return for chores or good grades. 
 
There’s a certain freedom to being a teenager with money. The chances are that they aren’t worrying about a pension or health insurance payments, so their money will typically go towards ‘fun’ things or running a car. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t be aware of how much they’re spending, and what they’re spending it on.
 
Looking for a bank account that categorizes their expenses or encourages them to review their monthly statements can build good financial habits. You can also discuss ‘wants vs needs’ – in college, the reality of student debt means they may have to forgo a night out if they’re short on groceries or need to purchase a new textbook. 
 
Students can also benefit from certain discounts or bargain shopping techniques. Ensure they get into the habit of looking for deals rather than just buying the first item they see.

Talk to Them about Saving

Your teen might think they don’t need to worry about saving money while at college. However, once they graduate, they’ll want to find their own place or buy a car to get to a new job, and they’ll need to have some cash in the bank to do this. 
 
Before you wave your child off at the dorm entrance, talk to them about different techniques for saving. For example, they could put away a certain monthly amount via an automatic draft or set a reminder to move leftover funds to their savings account once their next loan payment comes in. Even if it’s just a few dollars per month, they’ll be glad to have the money when needed.

Help Them Prepare for the Future

Every teen can benefit from some financial education, whether they’re planning on attending college or not. As a parent, you can pass on your knowledge to your teen in a friendly way, instilling confidence and good financial habits that will serve them well for years to come.

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