13 Tips for Kids Heading to College – Advice from Financial Innovations!

by Laura Schilling of Financial Innovations for The Aha! Connection

In today’s strange world leaving for college is not just about going to Bed Bath and Beyond to get your comforter.  Will you go to classes live or online?  Will the dorm stay open?  Will you wear masks on campus?  These are strange times; however, there are things that every college student should have/do on the financial front:

  1. A Financial Power of Attorney.  This document allows someone (typically your parents) to make financial decisions for you as well as access your financial information.
  2. An Advance Directive for Healthcare.  This document allows someone (typically your parents) to make health care decisions for you as well as access your medical information.
  3. A Last Will and Testament.  If something happens to you, this enables your family to access and distribute your assets (car, checking account, clothing) to your family.
  4. A list of your medical professionals.  You should provide your family a list of your medical professionals with their phone numbers if they do not have them already.
  5. A bank account.  You may wish to have alerts put on your bank account to notify you of transactions.
  6. Annual Credit Report.  Every year you should pull this (it is FREE) and check to make sure there is no fraud.  https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action
  7. Credit Card.  Start building your credit.  Even if you are not using it, get a credit card, use it once, pay it off immediately, and then put it in the freezer (if you are not using it) on ice.  This will help build your credit score!
  8. Freeze your Credit.  This is not mandatory but unless you plan to make a major purchase or open a new credit card you can freeze your credit to try and avoid someone opening accounts in your name.  You can do this at https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/credit-freeze/.
  9. Monitor Your Credit.  Equifax is a company, among many others, where you can pay a nominal fee to monitor your credit and catch if someone is trying to use your financial identity.
  10. IRS Pin.  To avoid someone trying to file your tax return using your social security number you can create a pin.  Do not lose the pin, it would be a huge problem!  https://www.irs.gov/identity-theft-fraud-scams/get-an-identity-protection-pin.
  11. Roth IRA. If you earned money this summer, then why not take some and open a Roth IRA.  You may only contribute to the Roth IRA if you file an income tax return showing the income.  You have a maximum of $6,000 per year you may contribute since you are under 50 years of age.  A Roth IRA allows you to put after-tax money in and then it grows tax free and comes out tax free for qualified expenses.  A down payment on your first home and graduate school may qualify, or you can let it grow until retirement!!
  12. Budget.  Now is the time to learn how to write a budget and live inside one.  Make sure you leave money for giving and savings!! 
  13. Time Value of Monies.  The sooner you save the more you will have later.  This is a huge advantage you have right now to start saving.  SAVE NOW!

Have fun and enjoy your college years.  This is a great time to start your financial future off on the right foot.  Stay Healthy!

You should consult with your legal and financial professional.  This is general advice.

Laura K. Schilling, J.D., CPA, CFP®, CSA,
Certified Financial Fiduciary® (CFF)
Financial Innovations, LLC
6111 Peachtree Dunwoody Road, Suite F101
Atlanta, Georgia 30328
(404) 458-0065
(404) 393-3063 fax


Securities offered through Triad Advisors, LLC.  Member FINRA/SIPC.  Advisory services offered through Financial Innovations, LLC.  Financial Innovations, LLC is not affiliated with Triad Advisors, LLC.