One of our primary responsibilities as parents is to teach our children lessons that will serve them well in life long after they have reached adulthood. Just like establishing healthy eating and exercise habits, helping them learn to take care of their finances is one of the most valuable pieces of wisdom we can pass on to our children. When they are young, you may want to start with the basics of budgeting and saving, which are critical to developing financial discipline. As they get older, it is also essential that children are taught how to build and maintain a good credit score.
Credit is complex by nature, but the building blocks for a strong credit score are quite simple. Here’s a basic guide to help your kids get started on the right foot.
1. Make your child an authorized user on one
of your credit cardsThis can be done before your child can get their own card, giving them the ability to use the card for their own purchases. You’ll still be responsible for paying credit card bills, but your teen’s credit score can benefit if it’s partnered with her strong credit history. It can also serve as an initial test of how well your child handles credit. Set expectations that they are responsible for reimbursing you for any fees they accrue.
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2. Have them build their own credit when possibleThe time will come when your children will qualify for a credit card. Again, it’s important to stress the importance of paying bills on time each month. Ideally, they will pay off the balance in full each month to avoid high interest charges. They also need to make timely payments on any other debt, such as student loans, store credit cards, and even expenses like utility payments. Note: Debit card use does not contribute to building a credit score.
3. Encourage them to be careful how credit is usedAchieving a good credit score is a balancing act for younger people. They need to earn and use credit to build a track record that will reflect on their score. However, they want to avoid overdoing it. Make sure your teen knows that he shouldn’t take risks using credit to pay for large expenses that might require a long repayment period or taking more than one or two credit cards at a time.
Managing credit is a new experience for most people just entering adulthood. By following these steps, you have the opportunity to put your children on the right path.
Nic Gilliam is a financial advisor with Cordian Wealth™, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC in Statesville. He specializes in fee-based financial planning and asset management strategies. To contact him, call 704-872-8181. He is at 642 Signal Hill Drive Ext., Statesville, NC 28625.