When students leave for college, they can’t drag their personal ATMs (also known as “parents”) along with them. Think of it as Survivor: Campus, with your progeny cast onto an urban island, dependent on their own financial wits for the first time to get a late-night pizza, pay for Uber rides, catch the latest blockbuster movie, and somehow not spend a small fortune at Starbucks.
How can you help? Lots of ways. Christina Coviello, senior assistant director of BU’s Financial Assistance office, offers some smart suggestions to ensure that your son or daughter successfully manages his or her finances in college.
Giving your student a credit card has advantages. No, really
“Responsible credit use is an important skill to learn early,” Coviello says. “Students who use credit and manage credit card spending responsibly and pay bills on time will have a longer credit history than their peers who choose not to use credit.”
Consider smart phone apps and other ways that your student can track her spending
Various apps can break out spending by type (food, entertainment, travel, etc.). Search online for “money management tools,” “expense tracker,” or for tools at your bank. Alternatively, students can go old school, and write down what they spend. “At the end of the month,” Coviello says, “review credit card or debit card statements with the student. Look for trends in spending and adjust the budget and goals accordingly.”
Agree on spending and saving expectations before the semester begins
Will your student get a weekly, monthly, or per-semester allowance? Or are they expected to get a campus job instead of an allowance? Have a serious conversation right at the start of the semester so everyone is on the same page and to avoid a panicked call six weeks later. “Check out the resources available through financial literacy site CashCourse or use a simple spreadsheet, smartphone apps, or other online tools to manage spending and stay on track,” Coviello suggests.
Deciding what expenses you’ll cover and what will be left to your student varies by family
From books to late-night pizza to a T pass or ride-sharing app, divvying up who is responsible for what “is an individual and family decision,” she says. For example, it’s not unusual “for a student’s cell phone to be covered under the family plan or for students to pay for books with money they’ve earned over the summer,” while buying pizza, shampoo, and other incidentals with money from a student job. “The important thing is for everyone to be on the same page as to who will be responsible for what, and if things change, that there be a conversation.”
Don’t worry—there are life preservers if your student runs short of money
If a student is struggling with budgeting, resources include BU’s Smart Money 101 website and scheduling a visit with a financial wellness representative at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions about financial aid? Arrange to see the assistant director in Financial Assistance at email@example.com. Also, phone apps and bank services allow you to transfer money from one account or person to another.
As for don’ts: “It’s probably not a good idea to take a cash advance on a credit card or finance daily expenses on a credit card with a high interest rate,” Coviello says. “Also, make sure the student’s time is balanced. They shouldn’t work so many hours that their academic performance suffers.”
Boston’s an expensive city—take advantage of inexpensive activities
“Your BU ID gives you access to many events and activities at a reduced rate, or even for free. Keep an eye on BU Today, follow Smart Money 101 on Twitter, or check out the Tips section of the webpage for more information.” One example: Students can get an unlimited dinner for $11.99 at Fire + Ice Mondays, avoiding an $18 tab.
September 10, 2019
September 10, 2019
September 10, 2019