It’s been an exciting few months celebrating your child’s senior year at high school and watching him/her graduate. You’ve committed to making this summer extra special before they head off to college.

As you make plans, include conversations about how to handle financial decisions. I know, it’s not exciting or what you had in mind. But believe me, the conversation is easier now before there is a crisis.

Setting their expectation now about money is preventative. Your conversation may be better heard if you have several small talks instead of one long drawn out session.

Before engaging in any conversation with your child, make sure you and your spouse are on the same page. The last thing you need as you begin to enjoy being an empty nester is your child playing you against your spouse.

Here are four topics to cover this summer with your soon-to-be college student:

1- Financial Aid/Scholarship:

If paying for your child’s college depends on receiving money from financial aid or a scholarship, then review the terms of the agreement with your child. If there are deadlines for submitting information, have your child schedule alerts on their smartphone. If you both review this information now, it will help prevent any oversight that may cause penalty fees or revocation.


2- Plastic (Debit and Credit Cards):

Using a debit card or credit card is very easy. Just swipe and take your purchase. With this ease, it’s easy to forget to check your balance or keep up with it.

Help your child understand how to view their purchase history and current balance with a smartphone app. While it may seem common sense for you, it may not be for your child.

Encourage them to check this information frequently for fraud. Also, discuss how credit card fees are calculated and accumulate when payments are not made on time.


3- Spending:

Being away from home and in college is an exciting time. It’ll give your child time to learn more about themselves. It’s also a time when they begin learning how to manage their finances. Help them by developing a spending plan.

Keep it simple with these seven categories:

Housing (rent, utilities, supplies)

Transportation (parking, fuel, maintenance, Uber/Lyft, public transit)

Food (groceries, dining out, delivery)

Personal care (haircuts, grooming products, clothing, laundry, dry cleaning)

Entertainment (movies, concerts, Greek life, getaways)

Healthcare (copays, expenses not covered by insurance, fitness)

Gifts (birthdays, holidays, charity)

If they have a pet, then add those expenses as a spending category. Your child will need to budget for pet food, vet bills, toys, pet sitters and other expenses generated by their pet.

If your child will be working while in school, add savings as another spending category. Savings is really their spending in the future.

Helping them develop a spending plan will also give you the opportunity to share your advice, as well as set parameters on what you are willing to pay for while they are at college.


4- Security

Having a smartphone is very convenient for managing finances. Your child can easily access their bank account and pay for items. With this easy access, it becomes a target for thieves. Discuss with your child how to protect information on their smartphone. Talk about what to do if it is stolen. Encourage them to safeguard their passwords. Also, address security for their debit card, credit card and laptop.


Transitioning to life at college will be exciting for your child. At times, it may be overwhelming for them, especially if they are relocating to another state. You can help ease the burden by having conversations about how to handle financial decisions. It will help establish awareness of money and help them after their college life when they are living independently.

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Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include spending plan, financial plan, divorce financial review, life strategy, and professional progression. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me.’”