Life Skills for College

Send them on their way with these tips and guidelines on everything from sorting laundry to avoiding debt.
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Before They Go

Going off to college is a huge step in any adolescent's life. It requires so much more than adjusting to needs of professors, course requirements, and cramped dorm rooms. It demands a set of grown-up skills that are new to most kids -- everything from sorting laundry to avoiding credit card debt. We've compiled a list of the major challenges every college-bound kid is sure to face, with step-by-step guidelines and important tips on handling each. Print this out for your child, and both of you can feel more secure and confident about the year to come!

Checking Accounts

A big part of going off to college is learning to manage your money. Whether your parents are giving you a monthly allowance or you're paying your own way, you'll need to open a checking account. Here are some tips:

  • When shopping around for an account, try to find a low or no-cost account. Many banks near campuses offer special student accounts. Visit the nonprofit site for more information on checking account options.
  • Once you've opened an account, keep good records. Every time you write a check, withdraw cash from the ATM, or make an ATM purchase, jot it down in your check ledger. It's easy to tell yourself you'll do it later, but before you know it you'll have forgotten how much you spent.
  • Be sure to do the math: Subtract the amount of each purchase from the total in your account. Otherwise, you may end up spending more than you have and bouncing a check, which will cost you upwards of $20 in bank fees. Every time you bounce a check, this fee increases, sometimes even doubles.
  • When your bank statement comes in the mail, don't wait to open it. To make sure your records match the bank's, read the instructions on the back of the statement on how to balance your checkbook. If there are discrepancies, contact your bank.

Continued on page 2:  Credit Cards


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