If you have a child heading off to college this fall, you’ve probably already made a list of must-have items to help them get on their feet: new sheets, a dorm-friendly refrigerator, the latest laptop and lots of quarters for laundry.
But one thing you may have yet to give them is advice on how to handle this new phase in their life — especially when it comes to making good financial decisions.
Here are five tips we think are worth passing on to your college-bound child.
1. Find a Trustworthy Bank
Now that they’re living on their own, college students often need to find a bank. J.D. Roth of Get Rich Slowly cautions students not to sign up with the first bank they find handing out freebies in front of the university bookstore. Roth even suggests looking into an online bank. You may want to consider Ally.
2. Buy Used Textbooks — or Rent Them Instead
The average annual cost of textbooks is around $1,100, according to Scholarships.com. But Yahoo! Finance points out that students can save money by buying used textbooks, or even renting them through online services like Follett.If your child has an e-reader, they may also be able to rent electronic versions of their textbooks, according to Time.
3. Pay Your Bills on Time
Many kids find themselves paying at least some of their own bills for the first time in college. Roth suggests stressing the importance of paying these bills before they’re due. Make sure your child understands that paying late fees is never worth it — and, worse, that late bill payments can hurt their credit.
4. Pool Your Resources
If your child lives with roommates, he or she can probably save money by buying certain household staples — like paper towels, cereal and cleaning supplies — in bulk, and then splitting the cost, Yahoo! Finance notes. This plan only really saves money as long as nothing’s wasted and each roommate only uses their share. But with some foresight and consideration, this habit can end up benefitting everyone involved.
5. Take School Seriously
WiseBread has a long list of tips for college students, and they all boil down to one thing: take your education seriously. After all, you (or your child) are funding this education. Think of it this way: Students who skip class or blow off the required reading are actually paying for something they’re not using — a personal finance no-no. Remind your son or daughter that even when classes get tough — or when their friends are skipping out to go sunbathe on the Quad — education is an expensive asset, and should be treated as such.
Do you have a son or daughter starting classes this fall? What tips, financial or otherwise, will you give them to ensure they get the most out of their college career?