Sending your child off to college is a big step toward their independence and learning to get by on their own. A big part of that is understanding finances and how money habits they develop now will affect their future.

That’s why it’s important to talk to your teen about college costs and living on a student budget.

Here are some talking points to help you have those all-important money conversations.

Do a budget breakdown together

For a teen who has never really had to worry about paying their own way, it might be a culture shock to have to suddenly live within the confines of a budget. Get out a pen and paper to jot down some potential costs that may come up at college, such as food, recreation, personal items, fraternity/sorority fees and transportation expenses. Once you have a starting point, mock up a sample budget together to illustrate how to get through the month. Sit down and discuss how much things cost and how they can stretch a buck when they are living on their own. For instance, point out the difference in cost between going out for meals versus cooking or being on the school meal plan. Take them on shopping trips with you to show how couponing or tracking sales can result in spending less. Encourage them to take advantage of student discounts and freebies, too.

Offer a crash course in money management

Beyond just keeping track of what they are spending, it’s a good idea to arm your child with some tools for managing their financial accounts. Opening up a checking account in your teen’s name and having them get used to using a debit card and keeping track of the balance is a good place to start. Educate them about things like account fees and the consequences for overdrawing the account. While you’re at it, talk to your teen about ways to protect their identity and financial information, such as not leaving their ATM card lying around in their dorm room.

Introduce them to using credit

Whether you cosign a credit card for your teen or they qualify for a student card in their own name, starting off on the right foot at a young age is a great way to build a credit history. Establishing a credit file will be important for after graduation when they want to rent an apartment or get an auto loan. Encourage regular credit card use for small purchases that can be paid off in full and on time each month. And, of course, monitor their activity, especially if it’s on your account since that will affect your credit score as well. Missing payments or racking up debt has long-term consequences and negatively affects credit scores, so you want to hammer home that point when they start using the card.

Keep it casual

Imparting financial advice without being too overbearing will show your student that you trust them. Agree to have money check-ins every couple of weeks — at least for the first few months — to see how the budget is going and if adjustments need to be made. You may even want to have their log-in credentials for their accounts so you can easily go over line items together, but be up front about it so they don’t feel like “Big Brother” is watching.

Discussing finances and college costs with your young adult will help cultivate good habits that can prepare them for college costs and beyond.