We are sending our fifth of six kids off to college this fall. In this transition, we have learned two things as parents:
1. Kids love to spread their wings and fly intermittently back home.
2. Kids connect with plastic.
One thing we started with each of our kids at the age of 16 is introducing them to the world of checking accounts and saving. Mind you, when we were introduced to a checking account at their age, actual paper was involved. Now a checking account is known as “my card,” and it is plastic.
We do this for the sole reason of being able to make it easy on us. Oh sure, they love the fact that their parents seem to be a never ending ATM, but in reality the set up and connection is to make it simple for us to help them in a crunch and to teach them how to use money wisely.
My role in Marketing at Consumers Credit Union blends well with my role as a parent. I can show my family pilot tests in technology and give them connections to the best experts as they go from stage to stage in life. To be honest, they just want to know that their card works 24/7 and know what to do if it doesn’t.
Today’s post is about opening a checking account for your student so that you can easily connect with them as they head off to college. It’s about the reality of what they will need when they are away and how they can check their balance on their account 24/7.
If your child is already a Consumers Credit Union member, he or she can easily add a checking account by calling or stopping by. (If your child is still a minor, you will need to co-sign as a joint owner on the account.) Getting an instant issue debit card is just that—instant and on the spot when opening a checking account in one of our offices.
If your eighteen year old isn’t yet a member, it’s simple and fast to become one. Encourage him or her to stop by with $25 to deposit into a new Share Savings Account—now she’s a member! That $25 will stay on hold as long as she has accounts with Consumers. Then she can add a checking account and use the instant issue debit card she will receive to access her money on the go.
The great part about the instant issue debit is there is no waiting. Once you place money into your account it is available. You can head right out the door and start using your new Consumers debit card! While paper checks are available, we’ve found young people rarely need them. They know how to use a debit card, direct deposit, and Online and Mobile Banking, and they use the tools well.
Now comes the fun part of staying connected and staying financially secure.
Staying Connected: “Can you put money on my card?”
If you are on the account with your child you will be able to transfer funds within your account when needed. We give our kids a budget at the beginning of the month. College is an eye-opening experience, with the realization that real life is expensive a very quick learn.
If your child is over eighteen, he should have his own account, and you should know his account number so you can easily transfer money within Online Banking. The beauty of this is you can move money anywhere, anytime on a smart phone, a computer, an iPad or a laptop.
Staying Financially Secure: “Hey I can TEXT my balance to myself!”
Once your kids have accounts set up, have them take the time to set up Online Banking and learn how to use TextBanking. Online Banking gives your kids access to all of their accounts and their balances and allows them to see charges in real time. TextBanking allows them to see their current balance in the account they choose. As long as they realize some businesses like gas stations may put holds on their debit transactions, causing them to have less in their account than they really do, the balance is accurate and in real time. They will know before spending $4.50 on Ramon noodles that they really have only $2.30 balance in their account, and they’ll need to transfer money or delay the purchase.
I know in the next year (ok, next week) I will be getting texts and calls asking, “Hey, Mom, can you put money on my card?” This is now the reality of our college kids. My goal is to help them learn how to be financially successful, while making it easier on me to be able to help them in a bind.