A financial literacy program founded by a bankers' group in Lawrence, Kansas is now on its seventh year of serving and educating the youth sector of the city. Called the Get Smart About Credit, this program is the brainchild of the American Bankers Association's Education Foundation and aims to teach high school students the right financial values and prepare them for the real world.
This program teaches kids how to become financially responsible young individuals and puts particular emphasis on credit score building and preservation. ABAEF officials hope that kids would be able to carry with them through adulthood the invaluable financial lessons taught in this program.
A lot of high school faculty staff report that a lot of kids do not know how to use credit cards. One teacher cited the case of a teenager who was given a credit card by his parents. The kid went on a spending spree and at the end of the month got a bill for $5,000. This teenager was surprised to see the charges since he initially thought that he would not be billed for his purchases, believing that card issuers would not charge him for things he bought with his card.
High school and college students may not be fully aware of it, but their credit score will be severely downgraded if they max out their credit limit and fail to pay their bills on time. It may have far-reaching implications and they may not feel the consequences of their actions not until they become adults. Later on in life, they may have a more difficult time securing loans for big-ticket essentials such as cars and homes.
One high school teenager interviewed said that not a lot of her friends own credit cards. Seemingly mature for her age, she said that if she ever had one she would be very careful using it because overspending will hurt her credit score. She also feels sorry for parents who had to pay for atrocious bills their children have racked up.
Michelle Jennings, a bank loan officer said that it is not unusual for parents to give their kids credit cards. Traditionally, when kids start to troop to college, parents usually reward them with credit cards. She commented that today, parents and their children need to pay more attention to their spending habits since money is hard to come by.
She advised parents and kids to be more prudent with credit card use. For example, if a credit card's original design is for emergencies, then it should only be used for contingencies and emergencies.