August 8, 2017 - 8:00am -- Anonymous

These cool crisp mornings remind me of “fair” weather and I must admit I’m not ready to say good bye to summer just yet!   It is a gentle reminder that our college students are getting ready to pack the car and head off to begin another chapter in life.  Whether this is their first year or not, there are many life skills that we may want to talk about before we send them on their way. 

One conversation that is important is to think about their budget.  It’s important to know who’s paying for the tuition, books, gas, credit card, and “extras”.  Learning independence is a critical part of college life and letting your student accept responsibility for their expenses could be an essential life lesson to learn. 

Understanding how a credit card works is another key financial concept.   A credit score takes a long time to build when I make payments on time, and stay at less than 25% of my allowable limit.  When I max out a card or make late payments my credit score can drop dramatically.  Since landlords, insurance companies, and future employers may utilize that score to make decisions, it’s vital the student understand the responsibilities of buying items on credit and how to keep records to repay it.  It might be a good idea to go to Freecreditreport.com to get a copy of their credit report before heading off to school.

Since most of our youth use technology to keep track of important things, you might want to check out Mint.com or Levelmoney.com to see if they might work for you.  Your bank may offer a budgeting app as well, evaluate what your needs are and choose the one that works best for you and your student.  Remember budgeting is much more than just recording where the money is going.  It’s setting limits and controlling where you want to spend your money to reach your goals.  (If you’d like more information on this, please contact me at hill.14@osu.edu).

While their education is the top priority at college, research shows that those students who also work may tend to be more financially responsible than those who do not.  On campus jobs tend to be a little more flexible around students schedules but off campus jobs may be more available or pay higher rates.  Talk through the advantages and disadvantages to help them make wise decisions.

Learning to live with someone else is truly an adventure and making sure that communication is clear and expectations are outlined in the beginning before there are misunderstandings is another significant skill to remember.  Who will do it and when is the cleaning to be done?  Who shares in the groceries?  Who studies best in the morning and who at night, with or without music?  While we might not use these in our introduction to our new roommates, don’t let issues arise and have regrets about not talking about it earlier.

Soda pop and snack foods are not exactly the foods of a champion, so make sure they understand and can purchase or prepare foods that will help them maintain good health and immune systems.  Easy, thrifty recipes can be found on our website at www.wayne.osu.edu.

I’m sure there are many additional topics to consider, but hopefully you can use these to get started.  Beginning or continuing the journey to independence is filled with opportunities to mentor our youth so they may obtain keys in successful living.