Frugal Friday: How Young Is Too Young For A Credit Card?
Happy Friday everyone! It has been a bit of an odd week here in the Frugal Rules home as we had family visit us during the middle of the week. I always enjoy having family come to visit us and it’s nice since we do not have to ask anyone for time off, though it does mean that we have to balance work and having them visit which can make for a bit of chaos at times. Oh well, it was fun to see them and will likely spend part of this weekend trying to catch up from the lost time.
Mrs. Frugal Rules had an experience this past weekend that I wanted to share. I find it funny what kicks off my inner PF blogger and this one was a doozy! I will say beforehand that I am not really trying to be judgmental with this, just wanting to understand the thinking behind this situation. Anyway, Mrs. Frugal Rules went in to the bank branch in our local grocery store last Saturday.
As we get paid mainly by check from our local clients we’re in there several times a week depositing the checks and have gotten to know the tellers and personal bankers quite well and usually strike up some sort of conversation. We generally chit chat about what’s going on in the world or how business is going – completely harmless banter. This conversation though showed me, yet again, the need for financial literacy and how even those you’d assume would have it (being as they work in a bank) may really not. Mrs. Frugal Rules’ experience also reminded me how important it is to teach children about money wisely from an early age.
The conversation went something like this…the teller explained to my wife that he and his five year-old daughter were at the gas station and he gave her his credit card to go into the gas station on her own (yes, you read that right) to buy something and told her to tell the cashier to “put it on credit.” I’ll leave the easy part of the wisdom of allowing a five year-old to go into a store on her own alone, as I know there is NO WAY in hell I’d allow our five year-old to go into a store on her own (I’m sorry, there are just too many crazy people out there) and deal with the issue of him giving his five year-old a credit card and asking her to use it.
The act in and of itself may seem harmless but what kind of precedent does it establish? Well…he went further. Fast forward several days and he tells Mrs. Frugal Rules that he and his daughter are at the grocery store. His daughter, as ANY five year old will do, started to ask for something and he told her that he did not have the money for it. For us, that usually translates into a want vs. need discussion and is fairly harmless. He, however, did not have the same experience. He went on to say that she started to get upset, put her hands in his pockets and started looking for money. When he told her that there was no money she asked him to give her his wallet, saying “you might not have money but you do have a credit card.”
According to Mrs. Frugal Rules, this is where the story gets interesting. She started asking the teller some questions trying to unearth his thought process in this and trying to communicate that he’s playing with fire and his response was that he’s concerned for his daughter’s future husband and that she may spend him out of house and home.
Really?! I wonder why he may thinking that?
Mrs. Frugal Rules then asked him, point blank, if he was concerned that his daughter may get an incorrect view on credit cards, becoming too comfortable with them without understanding what they really are. His response, according to Mrs. Frugal Rules, was that of a blank stare followed by a shift of the conversation back to the supposed future husband. I, however, see the bigger issue as the beginnings of teaching such a young child to be comfortable with credit and handing over a credit card to actively use before she understands that it’s not free money.
I understand as they get older, that there is a time and place to introduce young people to credit (even getting a student card if appropriate) and begin to teach them about the responsible use of credit as a holistic approach to the beginnings of managing money wisely. But sadly, this was not that. Ok, that’s enough from me – I’ll turn it over to you in the comments below.
Although I was out of the loop for most of the week, I was able to catch some good blog posts. If you have the time this weekend, check some of them out.
What are your thoughts on the situation? How young, in your opinion, is too young to give a child a credit card? What fun do you have planned for this weekend?
Photo courtesy of: epSos.de