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Lifelong financial wellness

Start saving early

As a parent, you want to set your children up for financial success. And research has shown that kids who learn about money early are better able to manage their personal finances as adults.

Patelco is here to offer some tips, along with the right products to help you put your child(ren) on the path to lifelong financial wellbeing.

“When my kids were born, I started a savings account for the money they get from their grandparents for birthdays and holidays.” -Debra, Patelco member

Introduce the value of money at an early age and emphasize savings. If you decide to give them an allowance, encourage them to make the choice on how they want to spend it and save a portion, so it becomes a regular habit. If it’s their money, they may make the choice differently than they would with someone else’s money. It’s likely they will want something that costs more than their allowance, talk about delayed gratification and how saving regularly can help them reach their goal.

Learn to create a budget

For a teenager or college student, creating and sticking to a budget doesn’t have to be difficult. Know your income, plan for your needs, and track your expenses.



Know where your money is going to come from (home, a part-time job, financial aid) and when it will be available (at the beginning of each semester, once a month, or every week.) Do not spend more than your income.


Needs and wants:

Know the difference, and cover the needs before wants. For instance, when considering expenses, buying groceries or eating in the cafeteria is a need, while eating out at a restaurant is a want.


Planning ahead:

Prepare for big expenses by setting aside money on a regular basis. Or, if you only get your income once a semester or once a month, set money aside at that time before budgeting for your normal weekly expenses.


Tracking expenses:

Keep track of where your money is going – using a spreadsheet, an online tool like BUDGETS in Patelco Online™, or simple pencil-and-paper. Make adjustments to your budget if needed, and remember that spending more in one area means spending less in another.

Build credit

When you’re 18, you can apply for a student credit card on your own. Another adult, such as a parent, can help cosign for the credit card if needed to qualify. (This makes the parent responsible for any unpaid debt and can impact their credit score if the card is not managed properly.)

Having a credit card in college has two distinct benefits: it gives you extra security in case of a financial emergency and helps build a good credit history (when used properly). Make sure to pay off the credit card each month, and if you can’t pay off the card one month, revise your budget and cut expenses to pay off the balance as soon as you can.

Having a good credit score is important because it will help you get an apartment and make borrowing cheaper for larger purchases like a car or a home down the road. Many employers also check credit scores when hiring – so it could help you get a job too.

Free Financial Advice

Talk to a Financial Specialist for personalized help with budgeting, saving more, and building your credit.


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