Tough Love for College Frosh

Your child needs a little shock therapy to show him or her how to live on a limited income.

I recently received this plea from a desperate mother: Could you do a column on last-ditch advice for financially clueless college freshmen like my daughter? She's already spent the summer earnings she was supposed to use for spending money at school on $100 jeans and going out every night with her friends. Her father manages her account (often overdrawn) because it's easier to do it himself. But I shudder to think what's going to happen when she goes away to school.

What's going to happen is that college could cost a lot more than you bargained for. You don't have to track every nickel, but your daughter needs a little shock therapy and a dose of tough love to hold her accountable and show her how to live on a limited income. Not only will you save thousands of dollars, but she'll get a priceless lesson in managing money.

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Janet Bodnar

Janet Bodnar is editor-at-large of Kiplinger's Personal Finance, a position she assumed after retiring as editor of the magazine after eight years at the helm. She is a nationally recognized expert on the subjects of women and money, children's and family finances, and financial literacy. She is the author of two books, Money Smart Women and Raising Money Smart Kids. As editor-at-large, she writes two popular columns for Kiplinger, "Money Smart Women" and "Living in Retirement." Bodnar is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University and is a member of its Board of Trustees. She received her master's degree from Columbia University, where she was also a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Business and Economics Journalism.