EDITORIAL: Credit card catastrophe

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BOB WOELK
Credit card debt is become a monumental problem for America’s college students. According to statistics from the Consumer Federation of America, about 70 percent of undergraduates at four-year universities have at least one credit card with a $2,000 limit and most of those are “revolvers,” meaning they carry a monthly balance and only pay the minimum balance.

Many parents are not aware of the aggressive credit card marketers luring in the hallways of the student activity center. They promise instant credit, privilege, even piece of mind for emergencies, according to the Kansas Credit Union Association. But, what may be intended as an emergency credit card quickly becomes gas, meals, movies, clothes and entertainment. The little things such as a pizza here, a movie there, is more likely to add up for college students than big-ticket items. The KCUA has several suggestions for helping parents of college students teach their children about managing money.

(1) Show them how to create a budget and live within it. Teach students how to keep track of spending so they can tell where their money has gone.

(2) Teach them not to rely on credit cards. Enforce that credit cards are not free money. What may seem convenient now could cause unnecessary stress in the future.

(3) Teach the importance of being responsible for themselves. Stress knowing what they can handle and living within their means.

It’s all good advice. But parents also have a responsibility to teach children how to manage money early in life. Children learn by example. So parents need to be careful not to overextend themselves. Despite the temptation of “zero-down” and low introductory interest rate offers, we all need to show restraint when it comes to borrowing.

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