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Credit 101 for the college freshman

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By Jason Alderman

To parents with a freshman entering college this fall: You’re probably expecting to shell out major bucks for tuition, room and board and a million other necessities over the next few years. But before you send your kid off, make sure you share one gift likely to steer him or her along the road to financial security — a sound understanding of how credit works.
You probably learned the hard way yourself that young adults encounter many unfamiliar expenses — and temptations — upon entering college or the workforce. So it’s important to help your kids avoid early financial missteps that could damage their credit for years to come.
The first step in managing personal finances is mastering the basic checking account and debit card. A few tips you can pass along:
• Look for a bank or credit union that charges no monthly usage fee, requires no minimum balance and has conveniently located ATMs so you don’t rack up foreign ATM charges.
• Enter all transactions in a check register or in a budgeting tool like Mint.com and review your account online at least weekly to verify when deposits, checks, purchases and automatic payments have cleared.


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