Do you and your teen agree on money?We are into September and the college kids are getting into the swing of things at school. Those kids that graduated high school last summer but opted not for college are hopefully working on their goals and jobs and maybe even living on their own as well (like my son).

Just like in any relationship that involves money, there are bound to be disagreements sometimes. If you are married you probably know this. If your kids are younger you might not be there yet, but as they grow up, trust me, it will become an issue with them also. As parents we just want the best for our kids and we want to help them be responsible adults but that is a tough job!

Recently American Express Bluebird (disclosure: this post is sponsored by American Express Bluebird and I have been compensated – opinions are my own) conducted a survey from 502 college students and 507 parents of college students. I found some of the results interesting and wanted to share. While this was based on college kids living at school, much of it applies to those kids who have moved out on their own (not at school) also.

  • Parents and students align when it came to concerns about money management and overspending. 60% of parents concerned that their child will spend more than is available. 80% of students worried that they will spend more than is available.

This is my biggest concern usually for my son! I know it is expensive to be out on your own! A negative balance in the checking account is not a good thing to see ever.

  • However, while more than half of parents believe their children are still learning about responsible money management, more than half of students think they actually handle money well.

This sounds kind of typical. As parents we now realize how naïve we were ourselves in our late teens and early 20’s about money and all sorts of things. Heck, I’m 43 and still learning about money!

  • 54% of parents who say their child has saved for college this fall believe their child has saved more than $4,000; conversely, the same percentage of students say they have saved less than $4,000.

Savings? Most of our kids probably only save up long enough to buy something really cool that they want. There are exceptions though. I know my nephew is really good about saving money.

  • The Store Trumps Online When it Comes to Back to School Purchases: The majority of parents and students will go directly to the store to purchase most items for college this fall (87% and 77%, respectively).  More online purchasing will be done by students than parents (23% vs. 13%), however.

I think this really depends on the family and how they already shop. For me, I can totally see the value in ordering college supplies online and shipping directly to school. But of course, there is that excitement around back-to-school shopping regardless of what age that is fun to do in person with your kids.

  • Debit And Cash Top Usual Method Of Paying For Things: The top two usual payment methods for students are debit and cash (34% each), while more parents usually pay with their debit card (42%) than cash (23%).

My family does not fit these statistics. We rarely use cash. I prefer to just use the debit cards from our traditional banking or now we also use the American Express Bluebird accounts because they offer a lot of services but not as many fees as the traditional bank.

  • Students Plan to Have Part-Time Jobs: About nine-in-ten (89%) students plan to have a part-time job this fall.

It is nice to see that the students are planning on having that part-time job to help with expenses, but also a shame that they have to. Life is expensive though. My son has a full-time and a part-time job even.

  •  Students Believe they are Equipped to Manage Their Own Money:  More than one-half (54%) of students say they manage their money very well – fewer parents concur (44%).  Most parents say their child entering college this fall is OK at managing money – they are currently learning.

Regardless, I think helping to equip our kids to manage their own money is best. This is one reason I think the American Express Bluebird accounts are helpful. They are very digital – this is our kids’ language. They understand using websites and apps for all sorts of things. Putting their finances in these mediums helps them use the tools and become more responsible about money. While traditional banks are adding more online features and apps, many still are far behind.

  • Students Don’t Want to Go Over Budget: Eight-in-ten students are concerned (very or somewhat) with having money readily available for an emergency (81%), spending more than they have or staying within budget (80% each).

This is where that parental worrying comes into place often, at least for me. At least I can easily transfer money to the Bluebird account when an emergency arises.


Does your family fit the findings of the survey? What steps do you take to help your teens and adult children be more responsible with their money when they go off to college or move out on their own?