Youth and Credit Cards – Monterey Herald


question: I remember reading a column you wrote last year about the dangers of college student credit card debt and the story of a college student with credit card debt. I just discovered that my son was hiding $ 3,000 in credit card debt on a credit card I had no idea he owned. Can you please repeat this column for the benefit of other parents?

reply: Education about the dangers of credit card fraud could certainly have prevented his current debt situation. Unfortunately, like many adults, he learns the hard way!

When my children turned 18, the credit card inquiries began to flood. Perhaps I was naive to be so appalled by the blatant attempts to give them a life in debt by offering them all kinds of “money-back bonuses” and free calculators, pens, and so on.

As many of us adults have found, it is much easier to acquire credit debt than it is to pay it off. So much fun to buy and load, buy and load, buy and load and so on. However, it is so painful when the credit card bill comes in the mail. Willpower and the ability not to spend beyond our means is generally an emotional function, not an intellectual one. In other words, even the smartest of us find ourselves buried in credit card debt because we cannot resist the emotional temptation to buy something NOW. Do you trust your 18 year old son or daughter that they have the emotional strength to resist every time they see something they MUST have to pull out their credit card?

Of course, you can agree with your child to “check” their card (s) in order to determine their future credit balance. However, don’t forget to raise your child. Unfortunately, our high schools do not offer regular courses or programs on personal finance and the dangers of acquiring and controlling credit card debt. Most of us learn the hard way – when it’s too late and we’re already over-indebted. For those parents reading today’s column, please try to educate their children about credit card debt and the interest rate factor. This time will be well invested. Remember, if your child is in debt, who do you think they will turn to for help? That’s right YOU!

Barry Dolowich is a certified public accountant and owner of a full service accounting and tax firm with offices in Monterey. He can be reached at 831-372-7200. Please direct all questions to him at PO Box 710, Monterey 93942 or by email: [email protected]

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