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Money Fix: Tips for college freshmen

As parents prepare for the ritual of sending

As parents prepare for the ritual of sending their children off to college this fall, it's not only time to talk finances, including whether it makes sense to use credit cards. Credit: Bloomberg News / Daniel Acker

As parents prepare for the ritual of sending their children off to college this fall, it's not only time to have a heart to heart about limiting the socializing and staying focused, it's time to talk finances.

Credit card or not? "No. Most colleges have a mechanism in place where parents can make deposits into an account and students can make necessary expenditures," says J.J. Burns, a certified financial planner with J.J. Burns & Co. in Melville. Debit cards are better. "They will be forced to budget."

Some disagree. "They establish a credit history and learn to use debt," says Benjamin Sullivan, a certified financial planner with Scarsdale's Palisades Hudson Financial Group.

Warn your kids. A Discover Card survey found 44 percent of millennials with credit cards missed a payment, paid a late fee, exceeded their credit limit, or had to work out a payment plan.

B is for budget. Don't leave home without one, advises Rakesh Gupta, who teaches a personal finance seminar for freshmen at Adelphi University in Garden City.

Bank locally? With technology it's not necessary, but there are advantages. "You avoid foreign ATM fees, and there may be free student checking," says Debbi King, a Pennsylvania personal finance coach.

Be strategic. "Student discounts are available for everything from pizza to computers," says Kristen Robinson, senior vice president for women and young investors at Fidelity Investments in Boston.

The perfect parting gift, says Katherine Cohen, CEO of IvyWise, a New York City provider of college counseling, is "The Teen's Guide to Personal Finance" by Joshua Holmberg and David Bruzzese.

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