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Marion Syversen Marion Syversen
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Getting ready for college

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Got a student getting ready for college? That new life will bring many new experiences from exciting and wonderful to the bittersweet. Tackling money solo, may also be a new challenge. But as a parent, helping your voting-age scholar become financially independent can add awesomeness' to the many life lessons of your college student. 

We have discussed the yummy world of budgets before. Budgets are the go-to tool for helping us track and control our money lives. They boil down to two simple truths: money which comes IN through passive (like rental property) or active (money earned from a job) income. And money that goes OUT- paying bills, or cash set-aside in savings. In your student's transition into adulthood getting on a great money track early can build a great foundation that lasts for life.

I like to understand the purpose of anything I have to do. Your student's goal in managing a budget is to have money left over after bill-paying for living and maybe even for some fun. But because the world of formal budgeting may be a new experience, your help and guidance will help bridge the gap to this next step in their independence. After all, a parent wants to ensure the very best chance of our scholar's future success.

Here's what they need to know. They need to understand their expenses and income. Of course income is whatever one earns from a job, receives in a stipend form from a parent or grandparent and also includes monies from student loans and scholarships.

Expenses include rent, tuition, and things needed for classes such as books or a computer. Room and board, a meal plan and other either one-time or ongoing expenses are also included.

Then there are the expenses that fall into the life category: any utilities, phone, food, entertainment and eating outside of the meal plan you may already have secured.  If your student lives off campus or has a car at school there may be transportation costs to also add into the expense side of the budget.

Make the budget work for your student and their learning style. Don't get overwhelmed by the many kinds of budget templates. All you need to include are income and expenses focusing on what money remains for your student's use. The level of detail within your budget is yours and your student's decision. I have provided links to template examples.

http://financialplan.about.com/od/moneyandcollegestudents/l/blcollbudget.htm

http://www.balancetrack.org/collegestudents/pdf/studentbudget.pdf

If this were my budget, or my student, I would figure out the overall financial situation in a complete breakdown and detailed budget. Once satisfied with the big picture I would focus on managing the daily costs of food, entertainment, transportation or whatever expenses were within the daily purview of my student, helping him break the aggregate into smaller, more manageable pieces, even down to a daily budget, and what dollars- or cents- are available for spending.

But people differ and how they learn and function varies. So be bold and search the internet, or speak with friends, until you find a method that will work for your student. Are you listening, student? Make sure you speak up about what works best for you with that beautiful smile you use to charm your friends.

Some of us have stories to tell about the poo we stepped in on the way to the awesomeness you see before you. Having learned what didn't work we want life to be easier, and much more cozy, for you, dear student. And if you take a firm handle on your finances, life will definitely be better.

Now, be free, little bird. Make us proud.

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