7 dumb money mistakes your new adult children will make
Before your children turn 18, they are considered minors by law and are limited in what they can do with money. But once they are legal adults, they can make all sorts of financial decisions that can have long-term consequences for good or ill. Without wise parental advice, more often than not, they will make plenty of money mistakes. Here’s a helpful list that you should share with your young adult children.
Getting your own checking account is a sign of being a grown up, but if you don’t manage it correctly, you can have your account closed down. This can result when you write checks when there are inadequate funds in the account. Not only does this result in having to pay back money you didn’t have, there are also penalty fees to pay. If you are unable to pay back the bank in a short period of time, you will lose your account and find it difficult to open another account elsewhere. To keep this from happening, you need to maintain a high enough balance so you won’t go in the hole. You’ll need to reconcile your check register balance to the bank balance on a frequent basis. Most young people don’t do this. If you don’t, set up an account that doesn’t allow automatic overdrafts and does not allow check writing. This will reduce the chances of encountering an overdraft situation. You will still be able to pay bills using online bill pay and a debit card.
2. Too Much Car.
You’ll enjoy the independence that comes from having your own car. But all the financial costs that come with car ownership are often overlooked. Owning a car means paying for insurance, maintenance and repairs. Many people decide to take out a loan so they can own a more expensive car. A higher loan payment for a more expensive car takes away money that could be used elsewhere. Also, circumstances change, and you may need to sell the car if you lose a job or otherwise can’t afford the payments. Over time, cars go down in value. Some people trying to sell a car may find they owe more than it is worth. It’s known as being underwater. It’s no fun to sell a car and still have to come up with extra money to pay off the car loan.
Many new adults still live at home. If that is you, you may be living rent free and having Mom and Dad buy the groceries. If you are working 40 hours a week, you could be bringing home hundreds of dollars a month that you may be frittering away on entertainment, clothing and stuff you wish your parents would buy for you. But an adult without a budget is not a grownup. Do yourself a favor and have a written plan for your money each time you get paid. Make savings a priority. Put a cap on how much you will spend on eating out, clothing, and entertainment. An easy way to do this is to use cash for these categories so when you are done spending the cash you are done spending money altogether until the pay period.
Once you have your own checking account, some businesses will try to sign you up for monthly memberships. These bills are deducted from your checking account whether you use them or not. Think twice before signing up for a deluxe gym plan, online game subscription, diet meal plan, music subscription, specialty life insurance, or other monthly payments. These can add up to hundreds and maybe thousands of dollars over time.
5. ID Theft.
Somebody with a spotless credit history but lacks experience in financial matters is an appealing target to identity thieves. You need to guard your personal information from clever crooks. They will make bogus phone calls or send you phony emails pretending to be your bank or creditor. Don’t share personal information. Other thieves will use social media to stalk you and find out personal information they can use to assume your identity. Keep your friends as friends, but block out strangers from your social media information.
6. Student Loans.
The cost of college has outpaced inflation for years, so it is not surprising that the majority of college students use student loans. These loans can be a good idea if it helps you get a better paying job with the extra income to pay back the loan. But if your chosen career does not pay very well, a big loan is going to be hard to pay back. Also, many students take out loans and fail to finish school. It’s no fun paying back a student loan from a low-income job. Be very careful in deciding to borrow for college.
7. Credit Cards.
Retail stores sometimes market credit cards to young adults with a limited credit history. As a young person with a steady paycheck builds credit, it becomes easier and easier to obtain more charge cards or higher credit limits. Retail stores offer tempting deals to people opening new charge accounts. However, the interest paid makes this an expensive way to pay for things. If you can’t pay your charge card bill in full each month, you are better off not using it. Another problem is that if you forget to pay your bill on time, it will cause your credit score to go down. That will make it harder to get credit when you really need it for something important.
Yes, being new to handling money can feel like you are walking through a minefield, but remember, you can keep your finances safe if you avoid these potential traps. You can have fun with your money without doing things you will later regret.
Don Milne is the Zions Bank Financial Literacy Manager. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org www.zionsbank.com