If your son or daughter is planning to attend college soon, there are thousands of “to dos” to prepare. Here are the issues your financial planner will want you to consider as you get them ready:
1. Set a budget with them
Purchasing the school’s meal plan helps to get that part of the budget accounted for. Review his likely expenses with him and how much he’ll have to spend for each. Remind him to log his expenses regularly.
2. Make banking arrangements
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Determine how your teen will access spending money. Consider a joint account at a bank with branches at home and on campus so you both have access. Review check-writing, depositing and withdrawing money, bill-paying, and accounting for debit card expenditures. Teach them to balance a checkbook and understand fees charged for bouncing checks.
3. Consider their credit card options
One option is a re-loadable prepaid credit card. You can monitor your child’s spending without concern about overdrafts. You can get him a card on your credit card account with a separate spending limit to monitor his spending. If he’s very responsible, he could try applying for one credit card with a low limit, say $300, in his own name. If paid off regularly, this builds a positive credit history for your child. Make sure he ignores all credit card offers received by mail. There is no need to have multiple credit cards.
4. Keep backup copies of financial information
Photocopy their wallet contents and keep a copy with you at home. Jot down replacement phone numbers for important cards.
5. Plan for healthcare
Your child needs to know when to call the college health center, where it is, and how it works. Have them set a routine for regular medications and understand the need to keep them in a secure location, easy to remember and access. Before leaving for college, have her make her own doctor’s appointment or go to the drugstore herself and remember to always carry her insurance card. Make sure they take a first-aid kit.
Look into health insurance early if they’re not covered by your plan. Determine what’s available on campus and what’s covered by fees, versus out-of-pocket or charged to your insurance. You may want to research doctors’ practices nearby for services not covered at the health center.
6. Prepare for emergencies
She should have important numbers, like the campus police, her residence assistant, the health center, and any trusted adults who live nearby, in her cell phone.
If he’s already turned 18, he’s considered a legal adult for medical purposes. Have him sign HIPPA authorization forms allowing you to speak with his doctors in an emergency. He should have power of attorney documents and healthcare directives (health care power of attorney, living will) executed and on file with you before going off to college, in case you need to act on their behalf should they be unable to.
These financial steps as they prepare to leave for college are just as important as their class schedule.
Be sure to consult our financial planner for further guidance.
Karin Grablin, certified financial planner with SRQ Wealth Management, can be reached at (941) 556-9004 or firstname.lastname@example.org.