Parents who want to ensure that their child has enough money each month may want to consider setting up a joint bank account for depositing an allowance, says Linda Descano, president and CEO of Citi's Women & Co. ( C). "Consider contributing to the account every three months rather than weekly," Descano advises parents. "If the money has to last for three months, your child will likely be more compelled to budget wisely." 2. Create a sample summer budget and practice setting goals. "Students should create a budget reflecting summer expenses, then live by it. This will be a good money-management exercise for handling the college expenses," Cunningham says. Try the budget out during the summer, and by your first semester you should be ready to put it into action, Behnam says.
"Your first semester may be difficult, since you are still trying to learn what it's like to be in college, but with your second semester, this exercise should be easy. Don't forget to include things like books, utilities, play time, etc.," Behnam says. "Make sure to review your budget once every six months or with a major change like moving from dorms to your own apartment."
"It's not a bad idea for mom and dad to add their child to one of their existing credit cards as an authorized user," she says. "This allows the youngster to build a credit history, but mom and dad are still in charge and can remove him or her at will if necessary." Parents who co-sign for their child should keep in mind that they'll be on the hook for the student's bills, Descano says. "If you're concerned that your child might go overboard with the credit card, you can get a card with a low credit limit. That way, if he or she hits that limit, the card should be declined at the point of sale," she says. 4. Start saving. "One of the biggest missed opportunities is that many college students don't start saving early on," says Ken Lin, CEO of Credit Karma. "Most recent grads should have a job the summer before college, and they can begin saving then before they are paying for more expensive items like textbooks." If possible, students should continue saving while they're in school, he says. "Say you are a student who is tutoring for extra cash or working part-time on the weekends. You should save a percentage of what you earn in an online savings account. Even 5% can really add up over the years. By the time you graduate, you'll have a nice little emergency fund built up," he says.
"For example, will you deposit a certain amount of money into their account each month, and they'll be responsible for budgeting? Or will you pay for some of their costs directly?" All of this needs to be discussed before school starts, and it's a good idea to have a financial check-in after the first few months, Descano says. 6. Understand how to view and pay your credit cards online. Although most students are incredibly tech savvy, it's important that they understand how to view and pay their credit cards securely online, says Joe Sicchitano, senior vice president and head of financial planning at SunTrust ( STI). "Students should understand how to check and pay balances online, review their statements and budget so they do not max out their card," Sicchitano says. "Setting a personal monthly cap can serve as a smart safeguard."
Credit cards, when used responsibly, can be one of the best tools for teaching effective money management, Sicchitano says. "For example, online credit card statements provide a detailed list of purchases each month, making it easy to maintain good financial records and assess spending habits." Parents should encourage their children to log on to pay their credit cards and view statements at least once a month. 7. Get a job if you can. "Working during the summer to help prepare financially for college means more than earning money for teens," says Lauren Arndt, development manager for Junior Achievement of Central Florida. Being employed also shows students the need for responsibility, time management and money management. "As these young adults are building their savings account, they are also building their confidence and learning the skills needed to succeed upon graduation in today's global economy and workforce," Arndt says.