A word from Penny Golightly

"University isn’t all beers in the student union, sleeping in until noon and skipping your morning lectures any more"
  • | by Penny Golightly

Thousands of young people are due to enter higher education this autumn, and it’s never been more important for them to be mindful of their money.

If you’re a parent of a soon-to-be-undergraduate it can be difficult to know where to start when you want to talk about money with them, especially if you haven’t done so before.

If you went to university yourself, the latest changes in the financial landscape might come as a bit of a shock – it isn’t all beers in the student union, sleeping in until noon and skipping your morning lectures any more. Fees and living expenses are increasing, and the many temptations of student life are still there, but they’re even more varied and expensive now.

The money situation is usually a massive learning curve for young adults, especially if it’s the first time they’ve lived away from home. For example, without prior experience or good advice, they might not understand the importance of getting their student possessions insured, or the importance of staying within their overdraft limit.

So, how can you best help your teenager to cope with the financial pressures of academic life? Different parents have different ideas about the subject. Many sit down and have a long chat with their offspring, sometimes discussing ways in which they are (or aren’t) going to be able to help. Others may decide to help their teens to develop practical skills, such as drawing up a monthly budget, or finding out how to track down the best deals to save money.

There’s also the question of the level of parental involvement. Should you step back, trust them, and watch as they possibly make some big mistakes? Or should you perhaps make them share all their financial details with you, and make decisions on their behalf?

Many worry that they are going to offer too much or too little help or the wrong type of help, and it can be tricky to find the right balance. After all, what’s helpful for one teenager might feel like total control freakery to another, and it could completely backfire…

What do you think? If you’d like to have your say or share your personal experiences on this subject, please join me on Monday 24th September at 7pm when I’ll be co-hosting a Twitter Chat with Gocompare.com and Frugal Family, a parental blogger.

As well as getting your views across, rumour has it that some of the tweeters on the night might also win some great prizes. We’re very excited about the event and we’re really looking forward to hearing from you. Make sure you’re following @PennyGoLightly, @gocompare, @Frugalfamily and @Covered_mag and that you use the hashtag #cashchat to follow and contribute to the conversation.