Give Your Kids Some Credit: Teaching Children About Money

By: Tom Ambrozewicz

If you are a parent, one of the major responsibilities you have to your children is to make sure they are ready to enter the adult world when they leave the nest. This includes financial know-how, although most parents do not consider speaking with their child about credit and debt until it is too late. If your child is old enough to make and spend money, they are old enough to understand the basics of good credit and its importance, so you should speak with your child regularly about this to help them prepare for the future.

Most children receive some form of allowance from their parents. If this is an option you choose, you are helping your child learn the first step to creating good credit-managing money. Teach your child the basics of budgeting, such as how to balance a checkbook, when they are of an appropriate age. Also help your child open a saving account to start saving money for the future. Even if the bank account never reaches a larger balance, it still teaches your child the importance of saving for the future.

Credit cards are difficult for most children to manage, so it is in rare cases that a teen should be allowed to have one, especially one which you pay off every month. Unless you intend to do this for the rest of your life, paying your child's credit card bills or other debts leads to irresponsible misuse of these tools, which can hurt them greatly in the future. Good credit only is possible for adults who are responsible with their money. Instead of allowing your child to have a credit card to use all the time, instead have them keep one card in their name for special occasions or emergencies. If they start to misuse this card, cut it off immediately. Rather than keeping a credit card, allow your child to speak with you if they feel like they need money in advance and be open to their ideas.

Lastly, you can help your child build credit by putting one of your own bills in his or her name. A small utility bill is a good option for this type of deal. You child does not need to pay off this bill every month by him- or herself, but rather, it is simply a way for your child to build good credit, and since you have to pay the bill monthly anyways, it doesn't make a difference who's name it is in. You can get your child involved in the process by having him or her remind you when the bill is due every month and keep record of the payments. This teaches good habits for the future, and getting into the habit of maintaining good credit is the most important thing at this stage. You can protect your child from debt in the future by teaching him or her these lessons while still living at home.

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