Oh, it’s most likely coming sooner rather than later: The phone call where your student calls home, asking for more money, and explaining that they ran out because it’s more expensive than they thought/books are a fortune/food is so costly/they’re actually not so sure where all the money went/etc.
When a student calls home, asking for a bank account deposit, there’s one thing to focus on: They ran out of money. It’s either their fault for not budgeting well or both of your faults for not planning well.
For this week’s Friday Homework, then, I’m challenging all the college parents out there to think in advance about how to handle this phone call. Will you give your student more money? Make them live on ramen noodles for a few weeks so that they learn how important money management is? Give them just enough to get by? Make them get a campus job — or work more hours if they already have one? Give them money once but tell them they can’t call home asking for more money again?
Having a plan in your head is a great way to make sure that your student’s lack of funds becomes a one-time event instead of a pattern. The last thing you want, after all, is to keep getting phone calls about your student’s — once again — unexpected lack of cash. If it’s their fault they ran out this time, come up with specifics to make sure they won’t let it happen again. And if it’s both of your faults, talk together about how much college is costing, what the actual (vs. expected) costs really are, and what everyone’s options are for finding additional income sources.
Learning how to manage college life means learning how to manage money, too, and continually providing your student with extra shekels when they run out doesn’t allow them to develop the financial skills they’ll need to be independent adults after graduation.