Plastic Not for Kids


Dear Mary: I would like to know your opinion on the American Express Pass reloadable card for teens. Debbie, California


Dear Debbie: I am opposed to any kind of plastic for kids of any age. Honestly, age 18 is about the right time to introduce credit and debit cards. Just keep in mind that plastic is a privilege for financially mature adults.

Plastic will confuse and abuse your children’s thinking processes. It will open the door to ugly attitudes of entitlement. Cash, on the other hand, works like a dream. Teach your kids how to earn, save, give and manage cash. They’ll love it and so will you.

I have written extensively about this in my book, Raising Financially Confident Kids, which also includes a fool-proof step-by-step plan that will help you to produce financially confident adults. I hope you will read it soon, before you hand your child an American Express card. 

Dear Mary: In our divorce agreement, my ex was responsible for the $5,000 student loan that I co-signed. My attorney told me that if he defaults, I should pay the loan and then sue him for the amount plus legal fees. Sallie Mae made me a settlement offer, which will show on my credit. Should I opt for this black eye on my credit report? Kim, California

Dear Kim: You hired an attorney so take his advice. If you have an option, you absolutely do not want a “settled debt” on your record for the next seven years.

Dear Mary: Once each quarter we have our house and property treated for pests by Terminix. The results have been excellent and we no longer have the problem with bugs that we had before. Do you know of a homemade or store-bought solution that we can use instead of paying quarterly? The payment is quite high and although I was able to negotiate with Terminix to lower the fee, I know that’s just temporary. I am afraid if we don’t continually have our house treated we may end up with an infestation again. Gloria, email

Dear Gloria: The reason that pest control performed by a professional service like Terminix is costly, they use chemicals that are toxic and restricted for consumer use. The professionals know how and where to apply the chemicals in a way that doesn’t put you and pets in harm’s way.

There are do-it-yourself options for minor issues like ants and aphids, however, it sounds to me as if you have bigger problems that do warrant the services of a professional.

Instead of trying to do this yourself, I suggest you shop around to find the most cost-effective service possible, and let Terminix know that you are. Also, consider service every four months or twice a year. That might do the trick as a maintenance option, and cut your costs.

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5 replies
  1. Jan says:

    I totally disagree!! I have 4 children that at the age of 14 I gave them a credit card from my account with thier name on it. It was to be used for emergencies at my expense. If they used it for thier own wishes the money had to be there when the bill was due. The cards were paid in full each month. My children are all adults now educated and with excellent credit. My son bought his house at 21 years old. To wait till they are 18 to teach them credit card responsibility is too late!!!

  2. Chris says:

    I ordered the book “Raising Financially Confident Kids” and just received it today. How disappointed and frustrated I was to see that it is the exact same book as one she previously published under the title of “Debt Proof Your Kids”. I just wasted $10. I wish this would have been stated clearly in the blog so I wouldn’t have bought it again.

  3. Sharon says:

    When each of my kids went to college, I went with them to our LOCAL bank and applied for a credit card. We made an agreement with the bank for a permanent $500 limit. This was to be used for emergencies and they had to work while in school to pay the bill. They were not allowed to increase the limit until graduation and with my agreement. $500 was the amount I figured I could pay if they got in “trouble”. It worked well for all 3 of my kids, 2 of which have remained debt free into their mid 30’s.

  4. leslienaimanrubinson says:

    mary – i have to disagree with you on the subject of plastic for kids. when my son started to drive at age 16, we had one car that we shared. i added him as an authorized user on my credit card and got him a card to carry with him for emergency use only. if he had an emergency while out with the car, i wouldn’t be able to get to him since we had only the one car. he knew that if he mis-used the card, his driving privileges would end and it never happened. he is now a 37 year old homeowner with excellent credit.


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