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Ask Dave

Keeping Up With The Collegiate

In college, teens are on their own ... and need an eye kept on them.

QUESTION: Janine has kids in college, and she wonders how to check on their finances at that age to keep them accountable.

ANSWER: When they were teenagers, it depends on the kid. You have the one who’s very precise and gets into this money thing, so you know there will be no issue there. And the one who has never met a savings dollar in their life. But all of it is fair game since I’m the parent. I want their Quicken books and budget on my computer so I can look at it at any moment. My job as a parent is to supervise them.

It’s not a matter of snooping. When they are a minor, any of their money is mine anyway, technically speaking. I don’t abuse that; I’m trying to create teachable moments. We are only looking over their shoulder to teach them how to fly. I also want them to fall down and bump their knees occasionally, because I want them to know what it feels like. The big thing that you want to see is that they are balancing their checkbooks. Also, discuss any big purchase.