Teaching Kids About Credit Scores, by 720 Credit Score
Last week, I sent part one of my back-to-school credit tip.
I told you my “crazy plan” for helping your children build a great credit score.
Part two of this plan include an educational platform whereby your children learn about, budgeting, savings, interest rates, and credit scoring.
Last week, I reminded you that no one else will teach this information to your children—not the schools, not their future employers.
The responsibility lies with the parent.
So after making your children an authorized user, start talking to them about credit scores, interest rates, budgeting, and the like.
Then, establish something I call the “Bank of Mom and Dad.”
If your daughter wants to buy something, lend her the money and then sit down with her to create a weekly or monthly payment plan whereby you budget the payments, which should include interest, just like a credit card company would do.
If your child is late with any single payment, assess a late payment, just like a credit card company would do.
Expect your children to make mistakes, and use these mistakes as teachable moments. Don’t berate them, but make sure they understand the consequences of being late with a payment.
Once your child demonstrates continued financial responsibility with the “Bank of Mom and Dad,” consider providing an actual credit card to your teenager.
If you are worried that your children will be irresponsible with the credit card, my suggestion is this: Allow your child access to the card only if you are present and only long enough to hand it to a cashier. This way, the child will not be able to memorize the credit card number, nor will he have prolonged access to your account.
Then have your child repay you directly for the purchase. Because you are the primary cardholder, you can preserve your credit by making payments on the account regardless of whether your children are paying you.
The purchase can be small or large, depending on your budget and your comfort level. Make sure it is not so big that you will be unable to pay your credit card debt should your child default on payments to you.
Just like with the “Bank of Mom and Dad,” make your children pay interest on their credit card purchases. If they exceed the prearranged limit or fail to make a payment by the due date, you should access an over-the-limit fine or late payment penalty.
When the credit card statements arrive, sit down with your children and explain the statements. Discuss your annual percentage rate, annual fees, late penalties, over-the-limit fines. Ask your children to verbalize their plans for paying their loans in a timely manner.
Expect your children to make mistakes, and help them create plans for correcting their mistakes. If they splurge and end up owing more than they can afford, perhaps they can do extra housework in exchange for an increased allowance. And, of course, teaching children about credit means that you call their cell phones—perhaps at 8 on a Saturday morning—to inquire about any late payments!
Teaching your children about finances and credit is like teaching your children manners. It won’t happen over night. Your children will make mistakes. But it’s far better that you teach them—in the safety of your home—than allow them to enter adulthood without a shred of knowledge about credit scoring and finances!
Okay, that concludes my back-to-school lessons.
P.S. Do you still think my plan is totally crazy? Leave a comment below!