I’m not a parent, so I won’t presume to tell you how to raise your child. I can tell you, however, that if your kid has a credit card or you plan to give them one, it’s a mistake you (and they) could be paying for well into the future.
No matter how you try to justify it — “it’s a different world out there”; “all their friends have one”; “it’s just for emergencies” — giving a teenager the privilege of plastic is a bad decision that will cost you and the child more than money and which may have long-lasting, detrimental effects. Here are nine reasons why:
You’re Downplaying the Necessity of Work
Working and making cold, hard cash is in my blood. My parents never gave me a credit card; they told me that if I wanted something they weren’t willing to buy then I had to make money for it. So I did. That doesn’t mean I’m obsessed with work, however; quite the opposite, actually. I work to live, not live to work — a distinction that has a profound effect on the quality of my life.
You’re Weakening Your Kids’ Work Ethic
Nobody wants to work if they don’t have to, and if you give your kids even the slightest inkling that you’ll take care of them whether they can support themselves or not, there’s a high probability that they’ll take advantage of that. They’re kids, after all, and they’re going to push the limits of how much they can get away with. It’s up to you to set those boundaries — before it’s too late.
You’re Conditioning Your Child to Be Materialistic
When I have cash in my pocket, I’m more discerning about what I’m buying opposed to when I’m putting it on my card. You and your kids are the same way.If your kids learn to use cash for their purchases, they’ll likely have a healthy American affinity for material possessions. Giving them credit cards, however, will facilitate overspending — and that will only get worse as they advance in their careers and make more money.
Your Kid Will Lose Respect for the Fine Print
Kids don’t care about the fine print on a credit card when you’re footing the bill. After all, why should they give a flying squirrel about the APR, late fees, and all the other small-font mumbo jumbo for which you’re responsible?
You’re Courting a Break In Trust
I can almost guarantee that if you give your kid a credit card, then they will abuse it. High-schoolers may face peer pressure that forces them to act a fool with the plastic.As for college students, where somebody with an “emergency” credit card will need to make an “emergency” beer run. Par for the course; it’s going to happen.
Your Child Will Never Learn the Value of a Dollar
The only way to learn the value of a buck is to attach it to the time and effort it took to make that dollar. If money is handed to you, then you “learn” that there’s an endless supply of it and, therefore, no need to work for it.Enough with that “I want him to enjoy his childhood while he can” nonsense. Nobody’s childhood is being stolen from them because they have to work 20 hours a week.
You’ll Have to Bail Your Kid Out
Because your child will most likely abuse the plastic privilege, at some point you’ll have to bail them out. Doing so sends the message that Mommy and Daddy will always be there when the kid ends up in a financial bind. As a result, the stupid spending could become habitual — as could the burden on you to pay the bill.
You’re Increasing the Odds of a Credit-Dependent Child
We may be moving toward a cashless society, but cash is still king.It’s imperative that kids know the difference between money in the bank, money in their hand, and borrowed money that they have to pay back. The best way to do this is to avoid plastic cards altogether, at least for the first few years, and stick with cash.
You’re Setting Up Your Kid for a Life of Debt
It’s your parental duty to send your kids out in the world as well-rounded as possible and that includes giving them a solid understanding of how money works, as well asthe consequences associated with exhibiting a poor work ethic, being a spendthrift, and not appreciating the privilege of credit. Eventually your kids won’t be your problem anymore; they’ll be the government’s problem instead. And I promise you, the latter won’t be as easy on them as you. Even on the worst day.
Photo Credits: (top) Dinkel; xJason.Rogersx