Canton bank manager offers opinions on saving money for college
Thursday, August 3, 2017 - 5:31 pm

Back-to-college time is quickly approaching, and many St. Lawrence County parents whose children will be freshman have financial questions.

The first year of college can be a rough transition for many students and parents, particularly when it comes to teaching your student finances.

In addition to being away from home for the first time, students are learning to juggle new classes and friends, as well as how to manage their money.

This can be a lot to handle for a young student, especially if they have never managed money without the help of mom and dad.

To help out, Community Bank Canton branch manager Marsha Watson shares below her top four tips to financially prepare your child for college.

“When it comes to financially preparing your child for college, the sooner parents start the discussion the better,” Watson said. “Many times, parents forget that ‘the basics’—like how to write a budget, balance a checkbook or how credit cards work—are not really basic for someone who has never managed their own money.”

Before the summer comes to an end and your child heads off to school, Watson recommends sitting your college-bound student down and discussing the following money lessons that can’t afford to be skipped:

• Establish clear boundaries: If you plan to help your child cover some expenses, make your expectations clear before they leave home. Discuss what expenses they might encounter and what they will be responsible for. Often students forget there are additional expenses on top of tuition, such as books, laundry and living supplies.

• Create a budget: Whether you plan to supply your child with extra spending money or not, spend the time to sit down and develop a monthly budget. Help your student plan for unexpected expenses, such as off-campus dinners or a last-minute train ticket home.

• Educate about credit: Don’t wait until move-in day to hand over the emergency plastic. Help your child understand what credit is—cover how interest rates are calculated, how debt can affect them and the dangers of paying minimum balances. If you’re planning to let them use your credit card, make clear whether it is for emergencies only or everyday use.

• Encourage independence: While providing guidance to your child is important, it cannot go on forever. Remember that your child needs to develop the financial skills and knowledge to manage money on their own. Recommend they get a job for spending money and give them the freedom to choose how they spend it. This can be an eye-opener in terms of how much things cost and teaches responsibility.