If you're sending your son or daughter off to college, you're probably warning them about the dangers of alcohol, drugs, or other habits that might hurt them in the future. The Illinois CPA Society suggests talking about money, too. Here are four tips to help them avoid a bad financial start in life:
- Stay Away from Credit Cards. Getting taken in by the easy money of a credit card is a problem that can stay with you years after leaving college. Credit card offers are abundant on campuses; don't be lured into signing up for a credit card by a T-shirt or other free gifts. (Parents, a better idea for spending money is a joint credit card with a preset limit to establish a credit history.)
- Don't Give Out Personal Information on the Internet. Students and young adults can be a little too comfortable with the Internet. It's important not to share personal information and even more important not to give away details like your Social Security Number or bank account numbers. Watch out for what appear to be official messages from a bank or even the IRS asking for that kind of information. More likely it's phishing.
- Resist Social Pressure to Spend. Try not to fall into the trap of buying something because everyone else has it and then spending more than you have on something you really don't need. And don't feel you always need to be the "good guy" who has the extra cash for tickets or the restaurant tab.
- Prepare and Follow a Budget. It's not exciting but it's smart to know where your money goes and how much you have to work with. You'll find it's easy to get sidetracked from what you planned on spending on things like books, cell phone service, or clothes. Establishing a budget sets some spending guidelines. Besides, budgeting's a good habit to develop and a great way to show you're ready to be on your own.