Money Management 101: Financial advice for college students

What teens, college students need to learn about money

By Ruth Spencer - Anchor

A recent study showed that many American teenagers are not learning the basic lessons of money management. Financial advisor Phillip Putney told Ruth to the Rescue, "Surprisingly, the average scores was 60% so if you haven't remembered that's a D."

With two college students in his family, Putney knows that teaching them the basics of budgeting is critical. "That's really the backbone of any sound financial plan," he said.

Here are some of Putney's key steps to financial independence for teenagers and college students.

First, have them write out a budget that lists their sources of income and their expenses. At this point, some of that money may come from Mom and Dad, but they should be able to see where the money is coming from, and where it's headed.

Second, help them establish a checking and savings account in their teens. It's often good to establish those accounts when they get their first job. They need to spend some time understanding how the accounts work, before they head off to college.

"Watching that balance and making sure you're recording every transaction, even the $1.98 that you spend on the slurpee," advised Putney. He also says teaching them to put money in savings is a lesson that will have long and short term benefits.

In college he said, "Your goals aren't as long term maybe, but they may have a spring break coming up...So, a savings account is a great tool to start saving," he advised.

Third, teach your future students about credit cards and how to use them wisely. Make sure you start by choosing the card carefully.

"Don't pick the one that has the fancy t-shirt or whatever it is that they're giving away for signing up. Understand what's in the card, read that fine print," he said. And, he added be sure to find a card that does not have an annual fee and set a spending limit you are comfortable with.

Fourth, don't be afraid to ask your college student to contribute to all those expenses. "I think they are a little bit more responsible in college if they have some financial stake in it," said Putney.

Web Extra: Plan a Student Loan Strategy

Putney also tells Ruth to the Rescue, students should learn all they can about their student loans. They may need to change their loan strategy as they progress through college. They might be able to make some small payments even while they're in school to get a head start on paying down that debt.

"There's no prepayment penalties on these loans. So, it's always a good idea to pay them off as soon as you can," said Putney. He also says if the student finds they are getting more money than they need, adjust the amount of the loan so it's smaller upon graduation.

If parents ever get discouraged, there are students who are able to pass Money Management 101, and they find their way.

"After a couple of years being in college, I kind of learned how to save money and budget myself," Dean Ignagni told Ruth to the Rescue.

Phillip Putney works for a company called AFS Wealth Management. His website has spreadsheets that can help with a Teen Budget Plan.

Here's a link:

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