The warm lazy days of summer are in full swing but the planning for the new school year ahead needs to be addressed. Many are preparing to send their child to college and there are many tasks that need to be completed. The dorm planning, computer buying and clothes shopping are the obvious needs. But there are some other items that you may not have considered. Here are six items you may have overlooked.
1) Make an appointment with your attorney to create a durable power of attorney document for financial matters and a health-care proxy. Without them, in most states, you, as a parent, don’t have authority to make health-care decisions or manage money for your children once they turn 18.
That’s true even if you are paying the tuition, have your child on your health insurance plans or claim your child as a dependent on your tax returns. Without such documents in place, if your child is in an accident and/or becomes disabled, even if only temporarily, you might need court approval to act on your child’s behalf.
2) Establish a monthly budget for your child. The precise amount agreed upon is a personal discussion. However, it is especially important to set clear expectations about who will pay for what expense. Maybe you agree to pay for all school-related expenses and it’s your child’s responsibility to pay for all or some of the social expenses.
3) Determine whether your child will receive a credit or debit card and set rules around when to use each. Educate your child about the difference between the two and decide which is the better option. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. If your child is just starting to learn how to budget and balance a checkbook, beginning with a debit card may be best, especially for general daily expenses.
Leave the credit card for larger expenses, such as travel arrangements, and emergencies. Two important benefits of using a credit card are the ability to create a credit history and better security. Building a credit history can work two ways: you can create a positive credit record or a negative one. A positive credit history will become extremely important for your child in just a few short years.
4) Once on campus, make sure you and your child know where the closest hospital, urgent care and 24-hour pharmacy are located. Find a good local physician in case your child needs medical attention above what the college health center can provide. Make sure your child carries his or her health insurance card and you have reached an agreed-upon way to pay for any medical expenses.
5) Have your child write down all passwords to any digital profiles, including financial and social media accounts. Keep this in a safe place at home. Your child may not like this, but explain that you are not doing it to invade privacy, but to protect it in case of an emergency. I recommend you review this list with your child before each new school year in case any passwords have changed.
6) Talk to your insurance agent and ask about covering your child’s belongings while they are living on or off campus. The premiums associated with a dorm insurance policy or a renter’s insurance policy vary, but affordable options with an appropriate coverage amount and deductible generally are available.
While these must-do items can help ensure you meet certain financial needs before the first day of college, remember to enjoy the moment for you and your child. Going off to an exciting new environment is emotional. Be prepared to bring the tissues!
Hope you have a great week!
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