Money and Credit Management for Teens

Date May 22, 2009

financial literacyOn Thursday I was fortunate to have the opportunity to speak to a group of graduating Seniors from Champs Charter High School in Van Nuys about money management and how to maintain good credit once you get into college and life after High School.

I am a huge advocate of financial literacy in the classroom, and was even a past Board Member for the California Jumpstart Coalition. I truly believe that if kids are taught how to responsibly manage their money and know what to look for when applying for credit, they will grow into responsible and informed consumers and hopefully won’t get into any credit trouble in the future.

The students at Champs Charter were not only a very attentive audience, they had great questions. For example, one question was:

Why is it important for me to have credit and pay my bills on time?

My answer:

By establishing credit, and paying your bills on time and paying off your credit card each month, over time you will build up your credit history and credit score. By doing this, once you are ready to buy a car or a home, the higher your credit score, the better rates and terms you will get.

Another very important piece of advice that I give all students is that when they go to college, they will most likely be bombarded by credit card lenders offering free t-shirts and other enticing gifts if they apply for their card. Always check the terms of that credit card and read the small print! Make sure you are not in a high-rate card with high annual fees, and check to see if your rate will go up if you miss a payment. And – this is most important – make sure to only charge what you can afford to pay back each month. Try not to carry balances because, with interest accruing, you will eventually have a high balance that you may not be able to pay off for years.

One of the best parts of my job is educating kids and teens about smart money management. If you are affiliated with a local elementary, middle, or high school in our area, pleaseĀ send me an e-mail. I am eager to get the message out to all kids so that they will make smart decisions and will pass those smart decisions on to their children.

And, please check out MCCU’s youth programs!

Questions or comments? E-mail me at

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