A College Checklist for Parents
Kudos to the dad who recently e-mailed my column on six money skills every kid needs to his college-bound daughter with this thoughtful note: "Katie, please look over this article and let's get together (over sushi?) to discuss your readiness for financial management as you head off to college. Love, Dad"
While Katie and her dad peruse the sushi menu, here are a few other things they (and other parents and kids) can tick off their college checklist:
Note: We paid for books, too, which at $800 to $1,000 per year can be a major hit. Our son saved us a bundle by buying used books through the Michigan network. And there are a slew of used-book sites online -- BigWords.com, BookFinder.com, CampusBookSwap.com and Half.com, to name a few. (See more economical ways to cover other college expenses.)
Realistically, figure on $2,000 to $3,000 in expenses for the year (not counting books); check with your child's school. My son got by on a frugal $1,500, but one of his friends spent more than $4,000 on nights out in pricey Georgetown in downtown D.C. (and got a part-time job to help pay for it).
Have doubts about your child's ability to manage a budget of several thousand dollars? Dole out the money on a monthly basis at first. That way, if your child runs out of cash early, he or she will have to wait only a couple of weeks to get the next installment.
And college freshmen can get by with a checking account and a debit card. Once they prove that they can be trusted to pay their expenses without overdrawing their account, they're mature enough to apply for a credit card.
One more thing: Dad, the tab for Katie's sushi is on you.