Using credit as a substitute for money you don’t have or have access to is credit abuse—teach our kids that it’s unacceptable. Credit is meant to be a convenience to help you avoid carrying all of the cash you have access to, not a way to spend when you are broke. Learning and practicing this simple lesson alone would prevent tens of thousands of our kids from beginning adulthood saddled with credit card debt. Taking on student loan debt should be a last resort for financing a college education, but does fall in to the category of smart money. Excessive credit card debt is a classic example of dumb money.
Want these lessons to stick? Then, again, we have to set the example. Remember, kids, and teens in particular, can spot hypocrisy a mile away, even if they are too respectful to call you out on it. What we preach to them about handling money we also have to practice ourselves.