Extension > Family > Financial Capability > Basic Financial Education > Youth and Money > Student Resources > Student Resources for College Students and Young Adults > Financially Speaking: College Student to Self-Sufficient Adult
Financially Speaking: College Student to Self-Sufficient Adult
Joyce Serido, Extension Specialist and Associate Professor — Department of Family Social Science
Several studies find that when it comes to students making good financial choices, parents matter. Children and adolescents learn about the world and how to thrive in it by listening to and observing their parents — and that role doesn’t end when children turn 18.
How can you help your student learn to make better financial choices? Here are five financial parenting strategies that make a difference:
- Set clear expectations about managing expenses. Establish a budget with your student that includes everyday expenses like meals and personal care items. Set aside a reasonable amount for socializing and unexpected expenses. Review the budget periodically and adjust as necessary.
- Be proactive in discussing financial choices. Working together on a budget is a good way to cultivate adult relationships with your student. Coaching them on financial practices builds a bond that encourages discussion about problems that may surface and responsibilities that lie ahead. Look for opportunities to talk to your child about financial matters. Filling out the FAFSA, receiving scholarships or financial aid, and even planning a family outing can be “teachable moments.”
- Keep mistakes from becoming poor financial habits. Although many college students have been “shoppers” since early adolescence, they have limited financial experience when it comes to credit and debt. Overdraft fees, late fees on bills, and uncashed checks are some examples of poor financial choices. Whether these become teachable moments or sources of conflict are up to you.
- Engage your student in ongoing dialogue about financial topics. Financial education lays a foundation for greater financial self-awareness, personal agency, and more responsible financial behaviors during the college years. The research shows that college financial behavior plays a key role in who thrives after college and who struggles.
- Encourage your student to gather information from multiple sources. Students today have access to a vast and ever-growing source of online information. But they need to talk with people they can trust to sort through and synthesize the information. You don’t have to be a financial expert to help your student make responsible decisions.
Financial competence emerges from an understanding of the basic principles of sound money management as well as opportunities to practice money management skills. When you financially parent your child, you are investing in their future well-being because college financial choices have a lasting effect.
Serido, J., Shim, S., Mishra, A., & Tang, C. (2010). Financial parenting, financial coping behaviors and well-being of emerging adults. Family Relations: Special Issue, 59, 453–464.
Serido, J., Shim, S., & Tang, C. (2013). A framework for promoting financial capability among young adults. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 37(4), 287–297
Shim, S., Serido, J., & Barber, B. L., (2011). A consumer way of thinking: Linking consumer socialization and consumption motivation perspectives to adolescent development. Journal of Research on Adolescence: Decade in Review, 21(1), 290–299.
Managing Your College Life: Your Money — Your Housing — Your Time — Online presentation and related resources that help students better manage and survive their first years of college.
Credit Strategies for College Students — Tips to manage loans and credit card debt.
Are You Ready to Discover Your Financial Identity? — Smart About Money — This Financial Identity Quiz is one tool to help you identify where you are currently on your journey to financial independence.