Discuss and Organize Your Finances

This is probably the #1 reason parents and kids fight while apart. This is the first time you are paying for yourself from morning to night. This might be the first time you are seeing how much things really cost. Also, you will have the opportunity to comparison shop to see if price and quality go together. Be respectful and be thoughtful as you embark on being financially independent (while still dependent). This will take some real work on your behalf not to blow through funds immediately. You will learn how to pace yourself, prioritize needs vs wants and use your best judgement. 

  1. Understand Your Budget – Determine what your monthly or weekly allowance it with your parents. Then open up a local bank account so you can have your money locally. It may not be absolutely necessary with so many ways to pay (PayPal, Apple Pay) but it is a good practice to have a local bank. Then set up a Venmo (or a direct payment app) account if you do not have one so you can get immediate funds. 
  2. Use A Budget App – It is so much easier to manage your money now so take advantage fo the tools out there. I think Mint is the best for students (and young adults too!) It syncs with your bank account, credit cards, PayPal, any bills you may be paying. Banks also have their own apps that make tracking your spending easy. 
  3. Talk About Emergency Funds – Some students get a credit card from their parents to use for emergencies. Or they get the Amazon account info to use for the same purpose. Have this conversation upfront. Know the rules: Is it call first? Or call right after to explain? 
  4. Student Store Account – Most schools have a card that can be loaded with money and then you use it around campus like a debit card. This can be how you pay for meals outside of the student cafeteria. They will have a mini-mart you can use this card at and the student store. Know what your allowance is and stay within it. From experience, I always emptied mine before it was time to reload and I felt the pinch on those days. It was a great lesson in going without for a bit and dealing with it instead of asking Mom and Dad to bail me out. 
  5. Find a Job – This is a great time (if you have not worked yet) to get a job. You will have free time between classes and the weekends so put it to use to help bring in more spending money. I would not do it during your first semester but by 2nd semester you should be able to incorporate earning into your schedule. This could be babysitting, tutoring high school students or something very flexible. It could be working on campus somewhere or working at a local store. It will help with time management, showing up on time and working with others. All critical skills for beyond school. 
  6. Be Wary of Credit Cards – I recommend not opening up credit while in college unless you have proven to have real solid financial control plus a good income to help pay it back. Wait until at least your Junior year to make sure you are ready for the financial responsibility.  I may have opened 5+ cards in college to give myself some extra funds and the debt stayed with me until my 2nd year of working. It hung over me and I worried about it. If you are going to school on a student loan, I would not even consider credit cards. 

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