You’ve worked hard to be able to afford to send your child to university, and now the time has come for them to fly the nest and strike out on their own.
So naturally, you’ll want them to start their adult life with good financial habits. Here are a few bits of wisdom you could share with your son or daughter before they head off to uni, so they can truly fulfil their potential and make the most of their university experience.
Stay on top of what’s coming in and out
It’s really important that students keep a close eye on how much money is going into their account, such as student loans and any parental support that you might be providing. At the same time, they need to closely monitor what’s going out, such as council tax payments, utility bills, rent, food and mobile phone bills.
Once your son or daughter knows how much is going in and out of their bank account, they need to know how to budget, so they don’t get through their money too quickly, turn to credit cards and slip into debt, or – heaven forbid – get in touch with you asking for more funds to tide them over.
If your child gets into the habit of keeping track of their income and outgoings, they’ll have a clear idea of what’s left to spend on other things that enhance the university experience, such as going out with friends, buying new gadgets and enjoying trips and holidays.
There are plenty of apps to help them with budgeting, such as HyperJar Kids, Rooster Money, GoHenry and Gimi, so that’s a good place to start, along with simply writing all their spending down on paper.
Budgeting is vital at the best of times, but as the cost of living crisis bites, it’s more important than ever that your child knows how much money they’ve got and where it’s going.
According to a recent study by The Student Room, half of young people starting university in September are worried about affording things, while just 15 per cent don’t believe they’re at all affected by the rising cost of living.
Significantly, half of those polled said they felt financial skills, such as budgeting, were the most important thing missing from the school curriculum. That certainly suggests young people want some guidance and tips on how to manage their money, so they might be particularly receptive to any help you can provide as they prepare to live independently for the first time.
Teach them to become savvy shoppers
As your son or daughter prepares to get used to managing on a limited budget, it would be well worth teaching them a few tips to save pounds and pennies where they can. For example, do they know where to find discount coupons or that it’s cheaper to buy own-brand products in supermarkets rather than expensive branded goods?
At the same time, it would be well worth making sure they’re aware of how the cost of just a few small purchases can quickly add up. For instance, if they spend £4 on a coffee every weekday morning, that adds up to £20 a week, or £80 a month. Encouraging them to look at their finances in this way could help them to look again at their spending habits and make changes, which would then free up cash that could be much better used or even put into savings.
Many students get part-time work to help them make ends meet during term time, which helps them afford the lifestyle they want to enjoy at university, as well as gain new, transferable skills that can bolster their CVs.
By encouraging your son or daughter to do the same, you could help them have a much more fulfilling university experience, and at the same, they’d gain invaluable skills that would set them up well for their future career.
Encourage them to speak about money
Money can be something of a taboo subject, but this unwillingness to talk about an issue we all have to deal with helps no-one. After all, your son or daughter might find themselves in a flat or house share with other students, and they need to feel confident raising financial issues if and when it becomes necessary.
At the same time, they should feel it’s okay to ask for help if they find themselves in serious difficulties, without any sense of shame or embarrassment. Again, this could make a big difference later on, as taking away the taboo around money will encourage young people to seek out the help and advice they may need in the future, perhaps from a friend, relative or a professional financial adviser.
You want your son or daughter to flourish as they begin their adult lives in earnest by living away from home for the first time, and we understand that. But good financial management is critical to making that happen, so they can make the most of these very special years and also understand the responsibilities that come with adult life.