As I prepared to ask my teenagers 10 questions about credit, I contemplated the worst responses I might get from them. I’m glad to say, I was pleasantly surprised.
This post is sponsored by Lexington Law.
There’s a lot that doesn’t make sense to me about my teenage children. Some of the disconnect revolves around silly things like pop culture references and clothing choices, but other topics of conversation are far more important.
For instance, when my children began managing the small amount of money they bring in, either from household chores or as holiday/birthday gifts, I could see how little they understood about personal finances.
While some parents are fine allowing mismanagement of such a small amount of money, I’ve taken the opportunity to discuss financial responsibility with my teens–which includes a good understanding of credit and how it can affect their future.
Questions About Credit and Finances
These 10 questions about credit and finances guided the discussion, and I highly suggest all parents start this conversation early and continue it often.
- What is credit?
- What is interest?
- Do you know the difference between debit and credit?
- What is a credit report?
- Do you know what a credit score is and what it’s for?
- How many credit cards should you have?
- Do you know how to plan a budget?
- Do you have a plan to pay for college?
- If you have a bill that’s due, but can’t pay it, what should you do?
- What does it mean to have your identity stolen?
- Have you learned about credit in school?
My son is seventeen and a senior in high school. My daughter just turned fourteen and is in 8th grade.
As I asked the questions above, I was shocked to hear my son quickly fire back with answers. Of the two, he has always been the most financially irresponsible and impulsive. My daughter has been a natural saver and planner since she was very young.
So, when he was the first to answer each question with an accurate and thoughtful response, I was quite impressed. My daughter admitted to not knowing how to respond to 80% of the questions but was grateful to be part of the conversation because she learned a lot listening to her big brother.
My son has a job, savings, a checking account, and a debit card. He struggles with organization and hasn’t gotten into the habit of checking his accounts regularly–despite my nagging.
He had his first embarrassing moment at the register when his debit card was declined. After a trip to see a personal banker, it was evident that someone had his information and had made purchases on his account. Fifty dollars of his money was spent, and he didn’t even notice.
We’re thankful for the diligence of the bank for catching this odd spending behavior quickly and freezing his account. The fifty dollars was back as if it had never left, but the lesson learned isn’t one capable of holding a mere monetary value.
He learned the importance of keeping an accurate register and making sure his information is secure.
When discussing the answer to ‘What is a credit report?‘ he mentioned the value of keeping a close eye on what is listed on it. Checking for accuracy is now a monthly habit of mine, and he is adopting the same schedule. In the event something is amiss, the professionals at Lexington Law can help.
Their Advice to Other Teens
Take classes like economics and consumer math when you’re ready. That will mean something different for everyone but truly appreciating the lessons in these classes will help in the real world.
Share these questions about credit with parents of teens to encourage the conversation!
Read next: The Credit Wellness Checklist Everyone Needs to Use