A common mistake parents make when thinking about how to build their children’s credit score is bombarding their children with critical money-saving edicts, even to the point of becoming paranoid. While there’s nothing wrong with teaching your children how to save, it’s more important to help them nurture healthy financial and spending habits, and maintain a healthy credit score as they grow into young adults.
Here are three ways you can help your children build strong credit histories:
1. Start early
Sitting your child down to teach them some simple tricks to maintain an excellent credit score on the evening before joining college may seem a good idea, but it could amount to teaching an old dog new tricks. The few minutes you have with your already-grown-up child may not be enough to instil the principles of good spending and maintaining financial propriety. The best option is to start early, so you can integrate health credit score practices into their lives as they grow.
2. Sign them up for their own debit cards
Although banks don’t generally allow children to have their own accounts with a card, Lucy is an exception. In the Lucy app, you can create multiple accounts in the names of each of your children; get their name printed on the card; and share view-only access with them. This gives them all the feeling of having their own account, while at the same time ensuring you can control how much they spend and also see what they’re spending on.
3. Teach your child to differentiate between debit and credit cards
Your young children learn lots of things from you, and when they see you swiping a card at the checkout, they may begin to dream of doing the same. But before they start using their cards, be sure to teach them the difference between debit and credit cards. The former is a lot like cash, but the latter is borrowed money. Giving them viewing access to their Lucy account will help them to understand that when they use their card, the balance goes down, until they hit zero – and then money needs to come from somewhere to top it up again (yes, that will be you right now we know :o)
A key benefit of this visibility is that it helps your children to understand that cash is finite, and runs out the more they spend it. It’s a good opportunity to explain that if they have a credit card later in life, the balance would start at zero and go into the minus, and then they have to pay back more than they spent. We know our children always found the concept of interest payments quite shocking – so it’s good to give some examples of typical credit card interest rates, explain what this would mean in terms of how much they’d have to pay back, and instil some good financial management practices in them well before they leave home.