Give College Freshman a Budget, Not a Credit Card / It's Never Too Early to Learn Personal Financial Management

Article excerpt

f you're one of the fortunate parents in this country who can still afford to send your kids to college, then you're probably helping them pack their bags right now. You've deliberated over expenses like tuition, room and board, books and transportation. But what about spending money?

I'm not going to preach about how students should get their discretionary income. One family may send an allowance. Another may insist that the student is on his or her own when it comes to spending money. Yet another may just say, ``Send the bills to me.'' This is a personal choice.

But what I am going to preach about, folks, is the necessity for a budget. You are sending your child forth probably for the first time. And being on your own means just that: being responsible for yourself. You parents have a great hand in your child's success. I'll tell you why.

A student was sent off to a small college a hundred miles from home with a checking account to pay for his expenses. There were only a few dormitories on campus, so many freshmen lived in apartments off campus, as did this boy. He had to pay his share of the rent each month, in addition to food and all the other essentials of college life, such as toothpaste, pizza, movie tickets, sweatshirts, etc.

He came home at Thanksgiving and told his parents he wasn't going back to college. When they probed, they discovered he hadn't paid his rent in two months and was flat broke. His roommates said, ``Come back with cash or don't come back.'' He was too embarrassed to admit his poor financial management to his parents.

This sad scene could have been avoided with a simple budget. Folks, I think it's very important for every college freshman get off on the right foot. That goes for studies, but is equally important for finances, too. After all, it's never too early to learn good personal financial management.

Parents naturally want to do everything to help their kids, but sometimes I think we mistakenly give them the wrong kind of help. …