ATLANTA - If you have a child heading off to college this Fall, you - the parents - have some summer homework yourselves. I know many of you think of your upcoming college freshman as a baby in some way. But, mom and dad, they're about to live on their own and to make their own day-to-day decisions.
So let's work on 4 THINGS to get them more financially fit by doling out more responsibility.
First, if they don't have a credit card, well then, it's time. Yes. They will need one for emergencies, but have the bill sent home to you. That way you can keep an eye on the spending.
Now print out a budget template. You need to have a kitchen table discussion with your college freshman about budgeting. Walk her through it. Just telling a teen to budget doesn't always stick. Put pen to paper. Show her.
Ok, number three is about power of attorney for your college student. And it has three components. First, a young adult might have to assign Durable Power of Attorney, which would allow you - the parent - to access bank accounts or pay bills on their behalf if they can't for some reason. Your student also needs a Medical Power of Attorney because, God forbid, something happens to your child while at college and you have to make a tough decision about organ donation or life support. But your student should also sign something called a HIPAA authorization which allows doctors to even talk to you about your son or daughter's condition. Now - there are some privacy protections for the student though. The student can designate what's OK to pass along - like info about a broken bone but off limits would be information about the student's sex life or drug history.
And finally, number 4, if you will have a working student, start a Roth IRA. They can put their savings here. Or, if you have the means, they can use their part-time job money to pay for eating out, movies, whatever.
Then you can match what they earn and put that money into this Roth IRA
And a quick add-on: Mom, Dad, it's time to re-think your Georgia Path 2 College 529 Pan. Stop, scale back your contribution or stop it all together, then decide how to use that remaining balance.
Here's a PDF for the HIPPA authorization form: athenaeum.edu/pdf/free-hipaa-release-form.pdf