Things You Should Teach Your Kids About Credit Before They’re Old Enough to Use It

December 12, 2011  |  

Financial responsibility starts at home and the best lessons are taught to us as children. As a parent, one of your goals should be to teach your children about working responsibly with money from a young age. The younger you show them what to do and what not to do with their finances, the more ingrained it will be in their characters. Credit is one topic you should go over with your kids early and often. Here are a few things you should teach your kids about credit before they’re old enough to use it.

It’s Important
The first thing you should make sure your kids know about credit is that it’s important. They don’t realize that so many financial transactions depend on whether they have the appropriate credit score to qualify. Everything from finding a home to finding a job can hinge on whether they’ve shown the appropriate financially responsibility through the way they handle their credit.Think Before You Submit to a Credit Check
Many people’s first experience with credit scores is in college. Some credit card companies offer small trinkets, like t-shirts or book bags, to students in exchange for applying for a credit card. What the kids don’t know is that every time someone pulls your credit reports, its shown on the report. Too many inquiries can affect your score, too.

Bad Debts Don’t Go Away
And it’s important that your kids know that bad debt doesn’t go away. You can’t just stop paying on an account and wash your hands of it. Bad debt accounts show up on your reports for up to seven years and bankruptcies for up to ten years. During that seven to ten years, the debt affects your credit score.

Check Up On It
Finally, make sure your kids know that keeping an eye on what shows up on their credit reports is something they should do every few months. Regular credit score monitoring is a great way to know whether someone is using your Social Security number to open accounts or an error is made on your report. You can get a free credit report from all three of the reporting agencies every year at annualcreditreport.com. You can also contact each of the agencies–Experian, TransUnion and Equifax– individually for a free report from each one each year.

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