7 Things Students and Parents Should Do Before College Starts

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- For recent high school grads headed to college, the list of summer to-dos can seem endless. From picking out dorm decor to stocking up on ramen noodles and notebooks, prepping for university life can seem almost as daunting as the prospect of leaving home for the first time.

But no matter how busy those summer months get, experts say all college-bound kids and their parents should spend a few weeks focusing on financial preparations. Experts weigh in on some of the best things families can to do get money savvy before the first tuition bill gets paid.

1. Open a checking account -- with or without mom and dad. All college-bound kids should open a checking account with a debit card attached to it, says Gail Cunningham, vice president of membership and public relations at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

Parents should make sure to stress the importance of writing down every transaction and keeping every ATM receipt. "Stuffing the receipt into the visor of your car isn't responsibly filing financial records," Cunningham says.


Parents who want to ensure that their child has enough money each month may want to consider setting up a joint bank account for depositing an allowance, says Linda Descano, president and CEO of Citi's Women & Co. .

"Consider contributing to the account every three months rather than weekly," Descano advises parents. "If the money has to last for three months, your child will likely be more compelled to budget wisely."

2. Create a sample summer budget and practice setting goals. "Students should create a budget reflecting summer expenses, then live by it. This will be a good money-management exercise for handling the college expenses," Cunningham says.

Try the budget out during the summer, and by your first semester you should be ready to put it into action, Behnam says.


"Your first semester may be difficult, since you are still trying to learn what it's like to be in college, but with your second semester, this exercise should be easy. Don't forget to include things like books, utilities, play time, etc.," Behnam says. "Make sure to review your budget once every six months or with a major change like moving from dorms to your own apartment."