This post has been sponsored by Lexington Law.
As the college pamphlets, brochures, and letters begin to fill your mailbox each day, the reality is becoming hard to escape–your baby has grown up. You have done your best to prepare their mind and bodies for the real world. Despite your efforts, you may have failed to teach them how to fold laundry properly and keep a clean kitchen. Before they embark on this new adventure, give them these 9 pieces of advice for teens before they go away to college:
9 Pieces of Advice for Teens about Credit
- Use your credit cards like cash. If you had no cash in your wallet, you wouldn’t be able to spend any. Think of your cards that way–if you can’t pay the balance off when it’s due, don’t use them.
- NEVER make a late payment. A tiny payment is better than no payment as long as it’s made on time. Avoiding late payments is, by far, the easiest way to keep your credit score on the rise. Set alarms, mark your calendars, tell me to call you on the due date. Whatever it takes, just do what works to ensure you pay your bills on time.
- Choose your main card wisely. You’ll want to keep this card forever because you’re starting to write your history now, and the longer your credit history, the better it is for your score. If you opt to have a card that gives you Pokemon GO! points for purchases, that may seem cool now, but in a few years, you may wish you had opted for airline miles or cash back on purchases. Note: I don’t think a card with Pokecoin rewards exists, but it’s not that crazy of an idea.
- Maximize those points. Get to know your cards and take advantage of all the perks. If you get double points for gas and groceries on one card and triple points for utilities on another, use them accordingly to ensure you’re reaping the benefits. One more time for good measure: always pay your bill on time and pay it off if you can!
- Keep your card(s) safe. Remember that RFID-Blocking wallet I got you for Christmas? USE IT! Scammers and creeps are everywhere. Be extra weary at the gas pump and at concerts.
- Never let anyone else use your credit card–or accounts with the card linked. I know it’s cool to share Amazon Prime, Playstation, and Netflix accounts. However, be mindful of where your cards are linked. You don’t want friends having access to your credit.
- Make it a habit to check your credit report every month. If you see marks that don’t make sense, there are professionals who can help you get them removed. It’s easier to handle this situation if you keep an eye on your report, before it gets out of control. So, when you’re paying your monthly bills, give your credit report a quick scan.
- It’s okay to go into a little bit of debt as long as you’ve got an escape plan. Remember that escape room where you were the only one who remained calm, then got us all to think clearly and figure the way out? Debt is a lot like that. Don’t get in over your head, and make sure you’re always thinking several steps ahead. If you need to buy books, and know you’ll be able to pay them off in a couple of months, just make sure you’re allocating your funds accordingly.
- If you fail with #8, don’t wait to call me. I’m probably not going to bail you out easily, but I will help you put together a plan to get it under control. The quicker you acknowledge the issue, the better. I won’t be angry if you’re honest. I promise.
Foundation for Success
This next chapter of their life is going to be full of excitement and learning opportunities. Instead of dwelling on the mistakes we’ve all made as parents, let’s empower our young adults with as much knowledge as possible about credit.
Read Next: Questions About Credit to ask your kids.