Proud parents and eager high school graduates both look forward to the start of college, but they should also be mindful of their pocketbooks, Twin City financial advisers said Wednesday.
The spending habits of college students are on Kevin Kuebler’s mind as he prepares to send his oldest son to school to study veterinary sciences next month. A financial planner with Insight CPAs & Financial in Bloomington, Kuebler advised parents to help their grown children set a budget as they leave the nest for the first time.
“It’s amazing how most people have no idea what’s coming in the door and what’s going out the door,” Kuebler said of college students’ expenses.
Building an emergency fund can also be important for a college student, even if most students are only saving money with the immediate future in mind, Kuebler said.
Some students may be opening their first credit cards as they head to college. Those who do should limit the number of cards they open and should use them sparingly and as a means to build credit, Kuebler said.
Students also need to avoid pitfalls that come with easy access to credit cards, said Nick Adomaitis, a financial professional associate at the Prudential Insurance Company of America in Bloomington. Adomaitis is designing a series of seminars aimed at educating college students about financial planning. While getting a credit card isn’t a bad idea, students should be aware of the ramifications of paying one off, Adomaitis said, including interest rates and hidden fees that can add up quickly.
“Here you have new adults who are off on their own for the first time and have never really understood the value of money, and you’re giving them a blank check,” Adomaitis said.
Responsible planning for college, by parents and students, should also start long before selecting fall classes. Parents who start thinking about saving for school as their child turns 16 or students who are about to enter a dorm without any experience managing expenses are already in a bad situation, said Jack Conlisk, a financial adviser with Edward Jones in Normal.
“My first bit of advice is to start early with savings,” Conlisk said. “Give (students) a checkbook in high school, have them learn how to do a budget.”
Even college students with $50 of a part-time job’s paycheck left after day-to-day expenses should consider long- term investment. No amount of saving is too little, and no age is too early, Adomaitis said.
“If you wait 10 years, those 10 years of compound interest really make an impact,” Adomaitis said. “The earlier you start saving toward your future, the less it takes.”