How upset would you be if your kid maxed out your credit card?
Our kids can do no wrong—except when they do.
This might have been the most eyebrow-elevating poll yet!
Q: Which would make you most upset? Finding out that your kid…
A) does drugs.
C) maxed out your credit card.
D) is dropping out of school.
It’s no big shock that half of you would be upset to discover your kids are using narcotics, but it’s striking so few of you were most incensed by a kid abusing your credit card or shoplifting. Stealing is bad, whether it’s a Twix bar from the corner store or the entire available balance of your parent’s credit card. (This is presuming, of course, that you didn’t give the kids permission to bleed your Visa dry.)
Here are three pointers for protecting yourself and your children from plastic malfeasance:
- Never give your grade schooler your credit card number. The temptation is too great for your kid to use it. One more piece of advice from Make Your Kid a Money Genius (Even If You’re Not): Although the easiest thing might be for you to enter and save your credit card information on a variety of sites your family uses so that you don’t have to type it in each time, don’t. Be aware that even if you type in your credit card number for a onetime purchase, on apps and websites there’s often a window of time after that when additional purchases can be made without a separate authorization.
- Stick with cash until 12th grade. Transactions with cash are more visible than swiping a card. Your kid will be able to see just how many bills she has on hand and will know exactly what she can and can’t buy. (Also, studies show that we’ll spend up to twice as much on the same product when we pay with plastic—because the exchange doesn’t feel as “real.”)
- Don’t cosign a credit card for your child. Just … don’t. When you make your kid an authorized user—something you should think long and hard about—you’re the one paying the bills. You can police the spending and make sure it’s paid down to zero each month. With a cosigned card, your kid is responsible—but if he misses payments, it will hurt your credit score as well as his.
Most honest comment: “I was going to type C), but nobody has … so this is awkward.” —Heath Carly (an epically bearded Arkansan whose amazing slogan appears to be: “Don’t fear the beard. Fear being underinsured.” Amen.)