I had the opportunity this week to speak to some parents at ATI who had students enrolled for fall semester. We were talking about the details of income and expense as a student, and what the expectations were. Whether you are a student or the parent, now is a good time to have a conversation and ask some of the following questions:
*What financial support is available for the student on a monthly basis?
*What expenses will the student be responsible for on a monthly basis?
*How will banking be done? Do they need to establish a local account or can everything be done online?
*Do they have a credit card? Is there an understanding on when or how much it may be used? Who is responsible for the balance? If it’s for emergencies, what is the definition of an emergency?
*When is the last time they checked their credit score? Realizing that this number will follow them throughout school, for jobs, apartments, insurance coverage and in many area of life, emphasizing the importance of paying the bill on time is critical. Encouraging them to not spend more than 20% of the approved limit will also increase the score.
*Reading the fine print of credit offers when they arrive on campus is important also. Don’t sign up just to get a free pizza without understanding all the details.
*What are their financial goals for the year?
*How will unexpected expenses be taken care of?
*If they have worked all summer, how does that divide out for the school year?
*What will be their budget to follow and keep track of their spending? In other words, if there’s not a plan for how to spend their money, it might be very easy for the money to control them with fees and penalties if discipline is not used to make sure bills are paid on time. If you are comfortable, walk through your budget with them to share all the details that are juggled in “real” life.
*Will they be working during the school year? Will they be on campus or off campus? Be sure to take transportation, meals and uniform costs into consideration. How flexible will the position be with college breaks, and other requirements?
As we talked, less than 30% of the students arriving had a real budget to work with, and afterwards, they realized there was some work to do in order to be successful in managing their finances. Like many of you know, making a budget isn’t always a fun thing to do, but it’s essential to make sure that I reach my goals and do what I want to do in life.
If setting up a budget is something that you want to learn more about, there is a series of one hour classes starting at the Wayne County Public Library on August 9th from 6-7 and continuing every Tuesday in August at the same time. I’d love to have you join us, it’s free and you’ll find yourself learning simple things to put in practice to gain control over your money. Look for the Money 101 signs and I’ll see you there!
Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.