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Sharing Financial Facts with College Students

One of the most difficult, yet most important, skills a person can learn is properly managing their money. Is your senior prepared to handle their finances properly?

Nashville, Ark. – Well, it is here. The final semester of high school has begun. Next year, many high school seniors will be attending college away from home. Is your senior prepared to handle their finances properly? One of the most difficult, yet most important, skills a person can learn is properly managing their money. Yet, it is so important. A few early missteps with money can damage a person’s credit for years to come. Therefore, as a parent, you need to set your children on the right path before they leave for college.

            If this is the first time your child has been responsible for managing more than a weekly allowance, teach them the importance of tracking their financial transactions. In today’s world of debit cards, it is so easy to lose track of what you are spending. Here are some tips for properly managing checking accounts:

  • Check account balances online or by phone often. It is a good idea to check when you expect a deposit, check or debit card purchase has cleared the bank.
  • Debit purchases and even check purchases clear instantaneously, therefore; do not write checks or use a debit card unless you know you have the money in the account to cover the expense.
  • Keep accurate balances by regularly entering all transactions into a check register. One forgotten item, an ATM withdrawal or a debit card purchase, could cause the account to be overdrawn which could result in overdraft fees.
  • Using a non-network ATM can add up to significant service charges. So choose a bank or credit union with several branches or convenient ATMs. If possible, choose a bank with a branch in the same town as the college the student is attending.
  • Another option for cash withdrawal is to use the debit card for cash back when shopping. Some stores offer cash back on purchases at no charge.
  • Ask if your bank provides free phone or email alerts when your balance dips below a certain level, checks or deposits clear, or payments are due.
  • Debit cards are safer than carrying cash and are accepted by most merchants. Ask if your card offers “zero liability,” which means you pay nothing for unauthorized or fraudulent purchases.

            Besides debit cards, many college students begin using credit cards. If the student has never used credit cards before, ease into them. Using credit cards responsibly helps build a solid credit history, which they will need later in life. Remember, credit is essentially a loan that must be paid back, so use them with care. If you do decide to venture into the world of credit cards, here are some tips:

  • Start with only one credit card until you know you can manage it properly. A good practice is to never owe more than you can easily pay off in a month. There will be times when this just isn’t possible. In that case, do not charge more than 30 percent of your credit limit on the card.
  • Strive to pay off the full balance each month; otherwise, the accumulated interest will add significantly to your repayment amount. Teach your child that interest charges will add to the initial purchase of the item.
  • Avoid using the credit card for cash advances, which can incur upfront fees plus having interest accrue immediately.
  • Don’t be tempted by free giveaways or low introductory rates that often rise dramatically after a few months. Read the fine print and know what you are getting when you do decide to get a credit card.
  • Look for cards with no annual fee and a lengthy grace period before finance charges begin. Also compare cash advances, late payments, balance transfers, over-the-limit and other fees.

            Remember, when a person turns eighteen years of age, they are basically on their own. Financial institutions, colleges and even health care professionals do not have to and in many cases will not share personal information about your child.

            Before you know it, your student will graduate and start a career. Don’t let them start out with damaged credit that will take years to repair. This means avoiding making late payments, bouncing checks, opening too many accounts, exceeding credit limits and accumulating too much debt. All these missteps can lower their credit score and make it difficult to borrow money for a house or a car, rent an apartment or even get a job.

            Your student is about to enter the most exciting period of their lives. Make sure they do so with the financial skills they need in order to make sound financial decisions now and in the future.

            For more information on budgeting, credit or other financial matters, contact the Howard County Extension Office at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse. The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.

Recipe of the Week

            Looking for a quick-to-fix delicious meal the whole family will love? This recipe is great on cold nights or anytime you want your family to sit down together for a nutritious, delicious meal.

Easy Chicken Pot Pie

1 2/3 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

1 cup canned chicken or 1 cup cooked, cubed chicken

1 (10 ¾ oz.) can condensed reduced-fat cream of chicken soup

1 cup Reduced Fat Bisquick

½ cup skim milk

1 egg

            Heat oven to 400˚ F. Mix vegetables, chicken, and soup together and place in ungreased 9-inch pie plate.

            In a medium bowl, stir Bisquick, skim milk, and egg together until blended to make batter. Pour on top of chicken mixture. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Yield: 6 servings, ½ cup each serving

Nutrition Information per Serving: 240 calories, 8 g. fat, 14 g. protein, 29 g. carbohydrates, 3 g. fiber, 860 mg. sodium, excellent source of vitamin A, good source of iron and vitamin C.

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.