3 Money Moves to Make Before Your Kids Head Back to College

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  • Many kids will leave for college in August after spending the summer at home.
  • If your children are returning to school, it's important to tackle a few key financial items first.

Be sure to tackle these before your kids go back to school.

College students often opt to return home for the summer -- either because they live in dorms and don't have access to summertime housing, or because they simply want to see their families after being away all semester long.

If you've had your college-aged kids living under your roof these past few months, you may have appreciated that bonding time. But alas, soon it will be time to ship them back off to college. And before you do, make sure to tackle these important financial moves.

1. If they're using your credit cards, set a monthly spending limit.

Although some students work during their studies and are able to cover their own bills in full, you may have an arrangement with your children where you want them to focus on their courses and fall back on your credit cards instead. If so, that's an arrangement they're hopefully grateful for. But it's important to set boundaries if that's the setup you'll be moving forward with.

It may be that you can comfortably swing an extra $400 a month in credit card charges, which may be enough to give your kids a little spending money and cash for incidentals like toiletries. But if that's the case, and you have two children using your credit cards, make it clear they each get a $200 monthly allowance -- not more.

2. Cancel services you don't need once your kids aren't at home

Perhaps you decided to subscribe to Netflix or another streaming service to give your kids some entertainment over the summer. But if they're heading back to the dorm, there's no need to bear those costs if you don't think you'll benefit from those services yourself. Make sure to cancel ahead of your next billing cycle so you don't wind up getting charged again.

3. Encourage them to get their own credit cards

If your children are old enough to get their own credit cards, it could pay to push them to get accounts in their names rather than using yours. Charging expenses on a credit card and paying them off regularly is a great way to establish a credit history. And that could come in handy once your kids graduate from college and enter the real world.

In fact, many new graduates end up moving back home after their studies not because they want to, and not even because they can't afford an apartment, but because they don't have a credit history. And without a credit history, it's hard to convince a landlord that a potential tenant is a safe bet.

While you may be sad to see your kids leaving home once again to return to college, you can take comfort in knowing they'll be among friends and engaged in interesting studies (hopefully). But on the plus side, your household might get a little less loud and messy for the coming months -- so there's that. And winter break will be here before you know it, at which point you may have your kids back under your roof, chaos and all.

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