College can get expensive: There’s tuition, the books, the food, the housing and, of course, the goodies. By goodies, we mean whatever it is that college students rack up on those free credit cards that are seemingly tossed out willy-nilly on every campus pathway.
According to a recent survey by Fidelity Investments, roughly 25 percent of college graduates leave school owing at least $3,000 in credit card debt alone. It’s easy to see why. As college tuition and expenses rise annually, many students are tempted to fill financial voids with plastic money—and let’s not forget the temptation to delay paying for spring break or a new wardrobe from ASOS.
Turning to credit for frivolous things is a dangerous habit. If you haven’t already, talk to your teen or young 20-something about money matters before he or she starts school. Teach him or her about budgeting, creating multiple streams of revenue and, most important, delaying gratification for trendy items. As a parent or guardian, you can offer frank age-appropriate information about your own financial experiences to illuminate the consequences of poor choices and the benefits of good ones.
Still, even with the best preparation, there will be calls, emails or texts asking for more moolah. Don’t panic. Here are seven do’s and don’ts to help parents ensure they’re doling out dollars only when it makes sense:
1. DO LET YOUR CHILD GET A JOB.
Working is a good way to learn the value of a dollar. It also eliminates too much idle time.
2. DON’T GIVE HIM OR HER A CREDIT CARD.
Make sure your son or daughter uses a debit card, which has a direct impact on his or her bank account and forces either proper allocation of funds or a direct consequence.
3. DO LET YOUR CHILD PAY SOME OF HIS OR HER OWN BILLS.
The best way to learn how to manage money is to actually handle it. Children receive financial gifts and earnings from part-time work. Teach them to use the cash wisely.
Read more in the September 2015 issue of EBONY Magazine.