Tips for Parents
Having the Money Conversation
Conversations about money can provide great growth opportunities for students. They become more aware and better understand where you are coming from, too. The key is keeping these conversations civil, caring and clear.
So, here are some things to take into consideration when discussing finances with your student...
- Realize that money can become an emotional issue at times, since it's so tied into one's sense of well being and, at times, self-worth
- Set aside uninterrupted time, with any paperwork spread out in front of you, so you can really delve into budgetary details with your student
- Recognize your tendency to want to protect your student from some financial realities, yet balance it with the importance of including her in these sometimes-difficult conversations — it's an important part of her maturation process
- If anyone gets frustrated and angry, disperse and come back when folks are calm
- Use "I" statements as much as possible ("I feel like you are working so hard to help pay the bills that you're not able to get involved in some important parts of college life. Let's figure how we can alleviate some of that pressure on you...")
- Talk about realistic things you can all do to address the current financial situation — from where your student can cut back to loans you might consider — as part of an "all hands on deck" collaborative approach
Wants vs. Needs
Being able to distinguish between "wants" and "needs" is a main thing students need to learn in their quest for financial fitness. By talking in these terms, you can help them really look at their spending habits.
For instance, textbooks = a need. A college sweatshirt = a want. A cup of coffee may feel like a need, yet a latte or fancy coffee drink is definitely a want. Have students self-identify wants and needs that they've spent money on in the past month to really raise their awareness. By helping your student use the "wants vs. needs" filter as he's making financial decisions, it's a practice that'll soon become a habit.
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