Talking to Your Child About Finances – Part 1
At Colorado Credit Union, our staff spends a lot of time teaching financial literacy in the community. We regularly have staff in area high schools helping students prepare for a financially independent future. Over the years, certain topics have come up repeatedly. These are questions that students either aren’t comfortable asking their parents or the parents don’t discuss with their child.
With this in mind, we are launching a blog series on discussion topics for parents and kids related to finances. Our goal is to help provide a resource for parents to guide conversations with their teens, and younger children, about money.
Let’s start with a couple of basic conversations you can have with your child today.
Live within your means.
Probably the most valuable money-related conversation you can have with your child is the importance of living within their means. Whether they work part-time and make minimum wage or have a full-time job with a comfortable salary, the quickest way to destroy your financial health is to live beyond your means.
“One of the first exercises we offer students is how to build a budget,” said Josh Harden, Colorado Credit Union Director of Training & Human Resources. “Without a budget to guide your spending and saving, you are likely to end up overspending and in debt.”
Budgets are something that can be taught to your child at almost any age. Even a young child earning a small allowance should understand what percentage to save and what amount they can spend.
“If parents are comfortable, they should include their child in the household budget,” Harden added. “Teaching kids about the cost of utilities, insurance and other common expenses helps prepare them for self-sufficiency down the road.”
Credit cards aren’t bad. It’s how you manage them.
Harden says one of the most common misperceptions from students is that credit cards are bad. Whether the fear stems from their family’s experience with credit cards, pop-culture or news stories about credit card debt, Harden says many young people are terrified of getting a credit card. His advice is to teach your child that having a credit card has lots of benefits and can be a valuable tool toward building credit.
“There are lots of benefits to having a credit card including travel perks, cashback, points and more. The key is not to carry a balance on your credit card,” Harden said.
A recent USA Today article supports this credit card advice stating that credit cards are one of the most useful tools for building credit, if you pay off the balance each month.
Another reason to consider using a credit card is fraud protection. Nerdwallet.com states the key difference between a credit card and a debit card in the case of fraudulent transactions is this: With a credit card, the card issuer must fight to get its money back. With a debit card, you must fight to get your money back.
As fraud continues to skyrocket, the added protection on credit card purchases is a huge advantage for cardholders.
Colorado Credit Union is committed to improving financial literacy. Check our blog for regular content to help improve your financial wellness. You can also access a variety of financial tools through our financial wellness platform at www.coloradocu.teachbanzai.com/wellness.