Kids away at school? 3 tips for keeping their finances in shape

(NC) If your child is off to college or university for the first time this fall, you’ve probably doled out a fair bit of parental advice. Things like, keep up on coursework, get a decent amount of sleep, and be sure to separate colours from whites when doing laundry. But what about guidance on money matters?

Here are three tips from the team at RBC Direct Investing to help prevent costly mistakes on campus.

1. Avoid FOMO overspending
FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real phenomenon that even seasoned adults fall prey to. We see others taking trips or buying the latest tech gadgets and suddenly we feel like we need to be part of that club. But what if you can’t afford those things?

Talk to your kids about ways they can build social relationships and enjoy student life without spending beyond their means. For example, many campus activities are free or subsidized. If they’re on a meal plan, they could eat on campus first and just order an appetizer or dessert when out with friends. Chances are they aren’t the only one trying to stick to a budget.

2. Protect personal information
For kids who will now be banking and making payments online, applying for part-time jobs using their Social Insurance Number and possibly living with roommates for the first time, it’s even more important to remember to keep passwords private. As examples, they should check their online bank statements frequently, ensure they’re using secure sites for online credit card purchases, and update their computer’s antivirus and security software as necessary.

3. Seek help if needed
Finally, you want your kids to know that if they do end up in financial straits, they shouldn’t be afraid to come to you and let you know. We all make mistakes; it’s one of the many ways we learn. But the sooner they share a problem, the sooner you can help them fix it.

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