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Helping Your College-Aged Kids Build Their Credit Score

A good credit score is important in determining whether you’re eligible for loans with affordable rates and higher lines of credit. When it comes to helping your kids understand the importance of building their score, the earlier you start the better.

In an interesting study, CreditKarma found that the average score for those between the ages of 18 and 24 was 630. This is considered poor credit; just 20 points lower than a 650 credit score which is considered fair.

Even so, college students will have a greater opportunity to improve on financial discipline before entering the workforce. Yet, with tuition and other college related expenses, it can be difficult to stay above water and not enter a spiraling cycle of debt.

Teaching them to live within their means, paying credit card balances in full each month and applying for scholarships will assist in reducing the amount of debt they carry once graduated.

A few ways to guide them on proper financial management include:

1) Let them Piggyback

Allowing your child to become an Authorized User on your credit card account will help improve their score. You’ll be able to keep track of their charges and assist them in building a solid credit history. This method is termed “piggybacking” and is an option many students use before getting their own card.

2) Make them aware of credit related terms and conditions

You should endeavor to teach your child about credit management and all the associated terms and conditions along with it. It’s important that he/she is aware of how the whole system works before starting to apply for a credit card all by themselves. Also, make sure they have a steady income and a job so that he/she has enough balance to pay debts.

In fact, because of the Credit Card ACT, anyone under 21 applying for a card must be able to prove a source of income or have a co-signer in order to be approved.

3) Encourage financial apps: There are many apps that’ll assist in helping your kids keep track of spending. They include:

  • Digit – This app is great for helping people save. It simply determines how much money you should be setting aside based on expenses, then automatically transfers that money from your checking to your Digit Savings Account.
  • Pocket Budget – This allows you to store a budget on your phone with charts and graphs and allows you to view your transactions. Learn which categories you spend the most on and set a plan to keep income higher than debt.
  • Mint – This app lets you to connect your checking & savings account securely so that you don’t have to manually input all your transactions. It’ll all be automated and help you identify which areas you need to reduce spending to avoid going into debt.

Helping your kids avoid financial pitfalls that come with having a bad credit score will set them on the right course once on their own. With proper knowledge and guidance your son/daughter can build up a good credit score and, hopefully, maintain that throughout their careers.

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