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Subject:  Re: Credit Card for College Freshman Date:  5/27/2007  9:04 PM
Author:  xraymd Number:  253672 of 312185

Greetings, bigdan, Windowseat has a great idea in sitting down with your son to discuss debt and how credit cards work. What about taking that a step further during the remaining summer months and talk with him about budgeting, then having him practice living within his budget while still at home? You could discuss what came as a surprise for him and about how to apportion expenses over time so he understands he has to save for tomorrow's expenses out of assets and income today. My parents did a version of this with me, most particularly when I was planning to move from the dorm into an apartment (not right after freshman year but soon enough). I think it is not at all too soon to begin the conversation about money management.

I further agree with aj485 about making him an authorized user on one of your credit cards. You keep your credit standing protected that way (not dependent on the vagaries of his timely payments, and I know you said he is a good kid) but that gives him the cushion he needs for you to feel safe that he's covered in an emergency.

Around the time I was first in college, I obtained my first credit card. It was a store card, if memory serves, but my parents were careful to instruct me in how to handle it carefully. Before I graduated, I had a card from a major issuer (probably a Visa) and I always handled it responsibly - paying it off every month and only buying with it what I had already saved in advance for, because I was operating from a budget. I also did part-time work in college, working in the dorm cafeteria, then at waitressing jobs and summers I worked at the campus carwash pumping gas. Not so many hours that it interfered with my studies (I have concurrently-earned degrees in chemistry and in mathematics) but enough to fund my own expenditures. My parents had agreed to pay for tuition, books and rent/housing (and food when I was living in the dorm). Everything else was my responsibility and they helped me plan how much to expect things to cost - plus it had already been drummed into me that I needed to save some part of every dollar I earned so I was well-used to thinking that I could not spend up to the dollar amount of my paycheck. The everything else included expenses for the car I shared with my brothers such as gas, insurance, license fees and included paying for entertainment and dates and clothes. I give my parents credit for helping me practice how to account for what it cost to cover these expenses and to plan in advance for them as well as for UNEXPECTED expenses (as in an e-fund). It may not have been fully underway before freshman year started but it got underway by then so I offer it here for contemplation.

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