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Prepping Financial Fledglings for College

Another benefit of discussions many parents are forced to have with their children about troubled family finances is that they open the door for further guidance on the topic. Before children go out on their own, preparing them for the realities of the world is often limited to lifestyle topics. While those are certainly important discussions to have, the first few years outside of your care are also when they’ll establish many of the financial habits that will guide the rest of their lives.

In his Letter to My College-Bound Daughter, Money Magazine contributing writer Dan Kadlec imparted what many children at this age need to hear. The letter was a masterful balance of gentle advice and relinquished control. Without missing the fact that most of the lessons in college are learned outside the classroom, he advised his daughter to enjoy every minute of it, but to be careful, too. The high level advice of furthering one’s financial education, living within one’s means, and building a credit history with responsible use of credit is beneficial to all students beginning their lives in the real world.

Young college students are often experiencing many things for the first time. Along with the lack of parental oversight comes personal responsibility for consequences. Allocating a portion of your advice for matters of money will serve your children well. It is in these early years that massive student loan debt and a tarnished credit history can erase many of the potential financial gains a college degree can afford.

Our kids are going to make mistakes in all aspects of their lives. Some lessons are best learned through experience, both good and bad. As parents, there is only so much we can do for our children. Eventually we have to trust that the lessons we have tried to instill will carry them as they venture out on their own. A positive relationship with money is surely not the most important of these virtues, but it is one upon which our children will certainly rely.

What do you wish you knew about money back when you were heading off to college?

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