A Timely Conversation: Revisiting College Budgets

It seems like only yesterday that we were saying goodbye as our students left for college, and now the semester is quickly winding up. As the students return home for the holidays, now is a good time to revisit financial plans.

Spending plans (budgets) are working documents. After using a plan for awhile, it's important to evaluate and adjust it. This is true for everyone but especially for new college students who may be confronting many new spending decisions.

Set aside some quiet time to talk to your student about their spending.

Here are some questions I plan to ask my college son to start our conversation about money:

  • Are you on track to have enough discretionary money for the rest of the year?
  • Do you need to adjust your spending?
  • Have you had unexpected expenses?

And, to avoid unhappy surprises, I plan to ask questions about credit card habits too:

  • How are you using your credit card?
  • Are you carrying a balance or have you been paying your bill in full each month?
  • Do you have any new credit cards?

Keep them informed of your financial situation too. Now is a great time to help our young adults see the bigger perspective of finances. With the current economic situation in our state, they may be wondering about the status of family finances. If you need to make adjustments in money you're providing for college costs, let your young adult know sooner rather than later. Then you can plan together!

Do you need to create a spending plan? Read Moving towards Financial Independence for step-by-step guidance on developing a working plan with your young adult.

Conversations around questions like these can help keep college finances on track. In addition, it provides an opportunity to guide young adults as they practice money behaviors that will be important to them throughout their lives.