The first semester of college can be a whirlwind of new experiences for students: meeting new roommates, first 8 am lectures or even doing their own laundry for once. Another first may be managing finances on their own. If you have a freshman who’s wrapping up their semester at school, it’s important to be by their side. 

Check in with your student as the semester closes to see how they’re managing their finances.

Consider the following together:

Is your student on budget? Establishing a budget before school can prevent any surprise finances. However, with the craziness of the first year of college, it can be easy to get off-kilter. If you haven’t discussed smart financial habits with your student yet, take a look at our guide. If your student is off budget, sit down together to figure out what the problem is. Take a second to review basics of budgeting. Is it too much spending at the campus coffee shop? Discuss investing in a coffee maker. Or going out to eat too often? Take a second look at the meal plans offered by the school. Together, you can find a budget that works.

Should they start looking for a job? With winter break approaching, your student’s time may start to free up. Even if your student has been following their budget, having some extra savings can never hurt. Plenty of retailers search for seasonal help to aid them through the holiday season. Encourage your student to apply to stores that interest them, such as the shoe shop for the fashion-inclined or a bookstore for the avid reader. If you think that there won’t be enough free time over winter break, ensure your child starts the job hunt for the second semester now—coveted positions such as campus jobs or paid internships fill up quickly.

How is your student’s credit score?

If your student applied for a credit card before leaving for school, you’ll want to check in to see if they’re managing their credit well. Ask your student if they’re paying off their credit card in full each month or making timely payments, and if not, talk about why. It could just be a matter of forgetfulness, which can be quickly fixed with auto alerts set up through their financial institution. It could also be a matter of overspending, which could impact their score.

If needed, discuss taking a break from the credit card with your student, and whether they need to commit to cash for a couple months to stay on budget. With Navy Federal’s mobile app, your student can locate an ATM or branch at their fingertips. Another option could be using a prepaid card, such as Navy Federal’s GO Prepaid Card, which can be reloaded when needed.

Skills for a Lifetime

The first semester of college marks many students’ first taste of independence. It’s also the time when they begin developing the habits they will use throughout their years of schooling—and beyond. Help make sure they’re prepared for the future by checking in with them and reviewing how to improve personal finances together.