My Mums post about me leaving for UNI
If your child (no longer a child but very nearly an independent adult!) has gone to University, this in itself takes some getting used to. For 18 or 19 years you have had a house full ranging from nappies and toddler tantrums to mascara and teenage tantrums. Now that your house is quiet and you have a thousand times less washing to do (until they turn up once a month with a car boot full) you can breathe a sigh of relief. Or maybe not?
So when they first left home they went into student halls. This was not too bad as there were clear cut finances; you knew they were surrounded on a uni campus where strange and potentially dangerous figures did not frequent the halls quite as often. Now though, their fresher year is up and they are moving on into student housing!
Eeek! This is a completely new sort of terror. Not only do you have to worry about their new surroundings, the good (and sadly bad) influences they surround themselves with, the food they are (or possibly are not) eating, the amount they are drinking etc etc but you also have to worry about their credit rating and the fact that they have real bills to pay. The sort of bills you have been paying your whole life and understand the importance of entirely. But did you do enough? Did you spend enough time teaching them about electricity bills and water rates and managing finances? Did you teach them that food is more important than alcohol? Did you teach them how to cook sufficiently to keep them self alive? This is a whole new world of worry!
So how can you support them at this difficult stage of reaching independence without overshadowing them and stopping them from learning through mistakes? Well it is important that our children follow their own path and learn by mistakes, but we don’t want those mistakes to include creating a bad credit rating for their future if we can help it!
At this stage, it would be ideal to sit down and offer your support – and guidance for this transition. Find out what your child is planning and what they have done so far? Have they viewed properties? Have they considered a budget? Contacted any lettings agencies? If they have not considered a budget, it would be wise to encourage them to do so before moving any further. If they have arranged flatmates already (this is likely one of their priorities and one of the first things they will do) then you will know how many people you are looking to house and therefore what size property you are considering. Once looking into budgetary restrictions and considering how much each student can afford you will then have an idea of what sort of property they will be able to live in. You need to ensure they are aware of this process and what they need to do prior to making any commitments. Discuss any financial failings you have had in your past – show them that mistakes happen and explain how hard they can be. Talk about living on beans on toast!!
Let your child know that you want them to have fun at uni and without a disposable income they will not have much opportunity to join in with others going out and partying. Talk about your support and financially what they can expect from you. Be honest about ongoing support – if you are going to do a shop online for them each month, tell them now so that they can manage their finances accordingly. If you start doing a shop each month for them and then stop, this can be devastating to them as they will suddenly have to find this cash that you had previously stumped up. It would be far better to surprise them with the odd shop when they are financially really struggling than to leave them starving when you can’t afford to support them!
If they are happy, go with them to lettings agents so you can discuss your concerns and be reassured together. You are not the first parent with these concerns and you will most certainly not be the last!