4 Conversations You Need To Have With Your Kids Before College

As winter break draws to a close, many kids will be heading back to college. With that transition comes a new dynamic, especially where finances are concerned. 

Having tough financial conversations with your kids isn’t easy and it sure isn’t always fun, but it is so important to ensure that you are both on the same page for how the finances will work when they are off to school.

Today, we would like to revisit the subject of conversations to have with your kids before college. Let’s dive in!

1. What does the meal plan cover?

Most students who live on campus will enroll in a meal plan. There are often many different types of plans ranging from covering one meal per day to unlimited visits per day. For students on campus, it is important that they know how many times they can eat in the cafeteria and what meals, if any, that they will need to prepare in their dorm rooms. 

Some plans will cover meals throughout the week, but won’t cover any on the weekends. Talk with your child about which plan they are enrolled in and what they can expect. If they do have to cover some meals in their dorm, show them some fun, healthy meals they can whip up in a few minutes. 

Eating healthy in the dorm isn’t always easy, but you can help by practicing some meal prep with them before going back to school or creating a little recipe book they can take back with them. 

2. Will they have ‘spending money’?

This is a big one. There are so many ways to spend money in college and it is important that you and your child are on the same page about who will be picking up the tab. You might decide to give them a set allowance per semester and anything over that is on them. Or you may leave their discretionary spending completely up to them. 

No matter what you decide, be sure that you talk about what that means for them. Will you cover their weekly Starbucks venture or is that iced mocha latte on them? How will school supplies such as books, access codes, and other items work? Be sure you are clear and honest with your child about how much, if any, you will be providing for extra expenses. 

3. Are they clear on their student loan obligations?

This isn’t a one-time type of conversation, rather an on-going one. Student loans are an important topic and one that your child should be familiar with as they move through their degree program. Knowing the type of program they are in, the terms of the loan, how much they are responsible for, and when they need to start paying it back are among the few things that they will need to be comfortable managing. 

Many schools have entrance counseling on student loans so that students are fully prepared for paying them back. But it is also important to have that conversation with them yourself and let them know that you are there to help guide them. 

4. How will emergency cash needs work?

Accidents and emergencies happen, we all know this too well. So if one should arise, how do you want your child to handle it financially? Some parents give their child a credit card for emergencies. But if you do this, it is important that they know the significance of credit and that they will only use it for emergencies and not for the discretionary coffee they needed to get a paper done. 

Be sure to talk to them about what an emergency really is and how you expect them to use the card if they need to use it at all. Teaching your kids about credit and the responsibility that comes along with it is an important milestone as they will be using credit in their adult lives. It will teach them responsibility and accountability, two things that can’t be overstated. 

Open, honest, and clear communication about money is so important as your kids grow and develop. When you establish open, two-way communication about money matters, you are working to instill good financial habits in your children. 

Interested in more ways to expand your college planning strategy? Hop on a call with us and we would love to help you. 

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