college graduation finances

It’s graduation time! The community centers are rocking, and cars and trucks are covered with messages of congratulations. If you had a high school senior in your home, then things are about to change dramatically, both for you and your new graduate.

There are a few things that you need to prepare before sending your senior off to college. While your college-bound student should be emotionally and mentally prepared for the challenge of higher education, there is no way to know how they are going to adapt to a new environment, especially if your student is moving to Oahu or the mainland.

Set Them Up for Success
One of the most important things you can do is to be involved in the process of enrolling. That means attending orientation with your son or daughter, figuring out which courses are required in the first year, and helping your student get registered. You don’t have to do it for them, but be there to support and problem-solve during this overwhelming new process.

It’s also smart to take a self-guided campus tour. Have your son or daughter lead the way, just so they feel comfortable navigating in unfamiliar surroundings.

If you haven’t already done so, set your son or daughter up with his or her own bank account. Teach them to account for expenses in a checkbook ledger, and teach them to develop and actually use a budget.

Depending on maturity, this might also be a good time to consider a “starter” credit card with a very low limit. Certain banks, many of which will likely be marketing to students on campus, will offer low-limit cards. Such cards should be used to establish credit, not to indulge in rampant consumerism. Judge your student’s maturity level and ability to grasp that concept and make a good decision.

Transferring Other Responsibility
College is a good time to teach your student about taking responsibility for things other than just money and registering for classes. It’s a good opportunity for you to have a serious discussion about the responsibility that accompanies adulthood.

One legal document you can discuss is an Advanced Health-Care Directive. You’ll want to be designated as a decision maker, or agent. By having these conversations, you can begin to impart a sense of what it means to function in society as a responsible adult and what it means to take responsibility for oneself. There is nothing wrong with creating good legal documents for your college-bound student. In fact, it’s a good idea, and it can give you a sense of security in knowing that certain details have been handled.

While it might seem morbid to have such discussions when a new beginning is at hand, the truth is that these issues need to be addressed. The very beginning is really the best time to plan for any possible eventualities. Health care providers, such as Maui Memorial and Kaiser, distribute blank Advance Health-Care Directives, and the forms also are online.

We can craft custom documents for you and for your college-bound student. If you would like to have a conversation with us about your estate and legacy planning, call our office today at 244-3905. Use this opportunity to learn for yourself so that you can be a good role model for your future college student.

Image Credit: Happy Bandits

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Meg Obenauf is an attorney and the founder of Obenauf Law Group. She strives to help families pass on their wealth simply, without conflict, drama, or taxes and works with families to protect their money and property from the ravages of nursing home and long-term care expenses. Meg helps parents of minor children create plans so that your keiki are never out of the hands of your loved ones, even for a moment, if the unthinkable should occur. She works with clients to create customized plans designed to ensure that your wishes are recognized and followed. Meg is a graduate of Harvard Law School. She resides in upcountry Maui with her husband, Mark, and her two young children. You can contact her at 244-3905 or go to for more information.