A note to parents and college students about spending (and what might help)

Today I’m going to share, at the request of Visa Prepaid,  my experience at college freshman year- my experience about money and spending.  Or rather, overspending.  And just how quickly I was caught up in “free” credit cards and getting myself into debt. And no I’m not proud of it. But I’m real and I make mistakes and maybe  if I share my story someone else won’t.

I grew up in family that did not do “handouts.”  If we wanted something, we earned it or purchased it ourselves. The ultimate catch-22 I had growing up was wanting to drive a car- but in order to drive a car, I had to pay for insurance.  In order to pay for insurance, I had to get a job.  Living in a remote area of New Hampshire, this wasn’t really an easy thing to do without a car.  I may not have appreciated that my parents were so strict and set in their ways about money, but looking back now, 20 years later, I can tell you it was a wise move on their part, especially with “me” as a kid.  I was um…challenging.  Once in a while, you know, like in a blue moon?

cash

Anyway, when I went off to college, I had money in my “pocket” for the semester to buy books and anything else I might need.  Money that I earned working the entire summer for, saving away.  Of course, like many kids, I got to school and had FREEDOM and new friends and realized very quickly that I liked to party. A lot.  Sadly for my wallet, I did not like to party with the kegs of beer at frat parties, I liked girlie, fruity stuff.  Which costs more.  Within a month my money was gone, and I had books to show for it, but little else except the freshman 30 15.

I had supplies I needed to purchase for projects.  Plus, more parties….and then it was time to start Christmas shopping.  And it seemed like every time we turned around, there were young, hip looking 20-somethings with tables and displays offering FREE credit cards!  Plus, when you applied, you could have a FREE tshirt!  A frisbee!  A travel mug! And like many of my classmates, I applied for almost all of the cards.  Unfortunately for me, I was approved for all that I applied for.  Within a few months I had 11 credit cards.  ELEVEN.  It never occurred to me to stop and think about what was going on, what I was getting into, what lay ahead.  I just saw a way to finish paying for things I needed and “needed” without having to pay for all of it at once.

Would I do this all again? Absolutely not.  But I’m 20 years older than my 18 year old self and I know so much more about money and life and what actual needs are.  But parenting a kid like me, I think I’d probably take their summer savings and keep control of most of it here at home, depositing amounts on something like a Visa Prepaid Card so that yes, they could access their own money, but I could also help to keep them on track and to learn to be responsible for their money before it was too late.

My debt wasn’t frivilous for long.  Soon after graduating, even with a Bachelor’s Degree, I wasn’t making more than $7/hour and it wasn’t anywhere near enough to live on so I did odd jobs and babysat whenever possible.  I still didn’t make enough to cover expenses and was more often than not charging gas and groceries (and yes, cute new boots- I’m a slow learner I suppose). At the peak, I had over $25000 in credit card debt.  All by myself. Do you know what I have to show for it?  That stupid “Freshman 15” which really was 30 and has gone away and come back repeatedly over the years.  No fun trips, nothing substantial.

As parents, we have to teach our children about finances.  Not just about what the money is, and that we have to earn it ourselves, but also how to manage it, and how to plan.  Today, we have 1 credit card that we use whenever possible, because the rewards for using it are great.  We have a backup card, and 2 store cards.  That’s it.  I’ll never have more again.  Too dangerous.  Too risky.

I can tell you that when my kids are older and start being away from us for periods of time and travelling or going away to school, we’ll be seriously considering the options available like Visa PrePaid cards so that we can keep a bit of a tab on things and hopefully keep educating the kids so they learn before they get into a mess like I did.  I’d rather they get mad and yell and scream at me for “only” depositing a few hundred at a time into their prepaid account than have them end up like me.  It’s kind of like a best of both worlds option  in my mind- the kids can have use of their money but need to check in with parents before adding more money- so if they are spending like crazy, parents can know right away and try to help solve issues.

I am blogging on behalf of Visa Prepaid and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Discover more at http://www.VisaPrepaid.com or view more Visa Prepaid videos at http://www.youtube.com/visaprepaid.

About the author: I’m a 30-something mom to three, brand ambassador. content creator, social media maven, blogger extraordinaire, earth lover, butcher, baker, candlestick maker (or something along those lines) – love word games, crafting, cake decorating or shooting pictures.

176 comments… add one
  • Interesting thank you for the tips

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  • I taught my kids as soon as I know they would understand about money and credit. When they were in their last year of high school we got them their own credit card. I wanted them to learn as well as learn to budget. Today they are very responsible when it comes to money. Believe me they like their expensive phones and their iPods but they pay their bill off every month. I guess I got very lucky that they picked up on it so well.

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  • Interesting article more knowledge on prepaid cards and VISA cards.

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  • nice tips ty.

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  • Found recently my granddaughter was bullied. Never in a million years would I guess with her strength it would happen to her. Just stay alert.

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    • Found recently my granddaughter was bullied. Never in a million years would I guess with her strength it would happen to her. Just stay alert.

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  • My children have always maintained their own schooling…I am very proud of them~!!

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  • I think these tips are great. I def went crazy with the credit cards in college.

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  • I wish someone had told me about finances when I was first out on my own. I will definitely tell my children.

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  • As a parent we went through that with out daughter. Unfortunately not her credit card but ours

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  • I was a lot like you but probably 10 times worse !! My parents never knew where I was or when I was coming home. Finally when I was 16 they told me that if I stayed away again without letting them know, that I would have to stay out. I moved out and when I was 18 had to come back home for about 6 months. When I got home I didn’t get any special treatment. I was told to behave or go again. I did behave and realized how lucky I was that they would even take me back. I got a job and an apartment and took care of myself from then on. I still partied to much but always had my rent paid and food in the house. My kids always lived in the same city because I said I’d never move around with them. We didn’t have many rules, just tell us if your’e not coming home so we don’t worry. Our kids turned out great !!! I can’t beleive we were so lucky. Oh and the credit card thing, I did that too. It was sooo easy to use those things !!!! I only have two now and only use them if I have to.

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  • Son has outstanding student loans because DEAD-BEAT father carried him on taxes and then took off so DA wouldn’t take check to repay me.

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  • I waited until I was in my mid 20s to finish college. I did not allow myself to be suckered in by all of the credit offers but I did max out my student loans so that I did not have to work full time. In retrospect, I certainly would NOT have gone that route.

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  • As parents we do have to teach our children about finances…problem is often our parents did not teach us! So we must educate ourselves, learn from our mistakes, then try to teach them.

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  • Please please please talk about this subject openly with your loved ones, be it your your child, young adults and teens of corse.
    Don’t let the bullies win, help our young people by making everyone aware and accountable for actions.
    May everyone take a stand together.

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  • When I worked at a certain government office, unpaid student loans was one of the biggest debts to the government. What I hated were the doctors and lawyers who were making big bucks and did not honor their promise to work at low income areas.

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  • Yes college debt can get out of control, I know mine did. I was a single mom with 2 kids & did not think it through better.

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  • This was interesting to read, thanks.

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  • My son will be going to college this fall, we have had a talk with him about how important it is to budget your money & thankfully he is pretty responsible. Hopefully he stays that way! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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  • THANKS FOR SHARING–VERY INTERESTING..

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  • Thanks for sharing this experience. I hope to pass it on to my college aged kids. They need to learn so much about debt and spending.

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  • I learned the hard way too with a JCPenny card, Sears Card, and my first ever, credit cards. I couldn’t afford the payments when I wasn’t hardly working. Then when I did work, my money was being saved for my first wedding. My parents didn’t give us money either. We had to earn it. My sister worked and saved her own money for a car and insurance. Smart girl. I didn’t do that, I went a different route, and regretted it.

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  • I just want to say thanks for helping to raise awareness and to stop/prevent bullying!!!

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  • My son is in college now and is so suprised that credit card companies would give him a card because is only working a part time job. Thankfully he has not sighned up for any credit cards because as a math major he know the interest rate is high and it’s better to use cash.

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  • Teaching children about money is very important. I am thankful that I don’t have any debt. I only spend what I can afford on my credit card so that I can stay out of debt, and earn point or cash by using credit cards.

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  • Good information. When I was a Freshman in college we were required to take a “University 101” class which covered a variety of topics including finances. I feel very fortune to have had this class because it helped me make good decisions regarding credit cards and banking.

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  • A prepaid card certainly is a great way of limiting debt and overspending. The biggest advantage is when it is being used. you are actually spending money that you already have so you are in control and can’t get into debt.

    Great post, BTW!

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  • The credit card is a double edge sword, you must use it wisely. It’s best if you use the prepaid / debit card for shopping, so it can prevent you to go overboard.

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  • i am a college student, it is really hard to balance finances. i mainly don’t spend much and i dont get the luxury of going places very often. i do spend money on partying when i have it but its worth it! i wouldnt trade it for anything. its part of the experience. however i don’t have any debt. i won’t have to take out any loans for school and when i graduate thank god nurses make good bucks where i live.

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  • i never had a credit card until recently. i was trying to buy a house,but had no credit score .so now i have my first and pay off balance every month. i have a good credit score now. sometimes you have to have a credit card ,but just make sure to not go overboard on your spending.

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  • Thank you! This is good to know since I have one in college and one graduating high school in June!

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  • Stop Bullying Now!

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  • Yes thats a great way to go so then you know when you are ‘really’ out of money!!!!!!!

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  • IIt’s so true! Especially with college fees, adding credit debt on top of that is a horrible way to start your new life! I want my kids to be responsible savers from a young age so they’ll learn that!

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  • I think pre-paid is truly the better way to go. It’s much easier to watch what and how you’re spending!

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  • Luckily when I went away to college there were no credit card companies giving out cards to college students. I had a scholarship and some money from my folks, but I had to work to get any extra money. Now, at age 65, I’m glad I have no debts and a paid off mortgage.

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  • Hubby and I relate so well. We got married young and had lots of “needs” now with two kids and average jobs we are slowly having to dig our way through the mountain of debt we’ve created!! And we’re kicking ourselves each month when all the bills are due. In the end we’ve learnt lessons we’re sure to teach our children!

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  • I cut up all my regular credit cards and only use pre-paid cards now.

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  • It seems you need credit to get credit. That is why I support pre-paid credit cards.

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  • Yes, thank you for sharing! Information everyone should know!

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  • Pre-paid credit cards are the way to go. No big interest charges or other fees. When the money is gone…you then have to wait til you can afford to reload it…helps keep your spending in check.

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  • it is so important. i was similar to you, my parents didn’t help with anything so i had to learn how to handle my money at a very young age.

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  • Thank you for sharing this information. It is a lesson that needs to be learn.

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  • i wish i learned about credit when i was younger would be better off now

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  • Thank you for sharing this, i think this visa prepaid is the way to go if we want to go for vacation too

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  • Thank you for the important information!!

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  • Prepaid cards are definitely the way to go!

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  • i am a new parent and thank you for sharing your experience. this brings awareness and i hope i could teach my child properly about handling money responsibly.

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  • Thank you for sharing this and bringing awareness. Your experience teaches something.

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  • Those student loans are killer. Stay away if you can.

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  • I thank my parents everyday for educating me on credit cards. I’m one of the few debt free among my friends.

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  • Thank you for this chance

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  • These important lessons are missed by so many. Glad you are sharing your story to bring greater awareness–thanks for sharing! I think not only college kids can benefit, but those in HS as well–since they will soon be there

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  • Oh my, I remember the free t-shirts for credit cards. When we went on spring break the beach was littered with credit card company tents offering t-shirts when you sign up. They just made it too easy and I heard many people that had stories like yours where they had far too many credit cards especially at such a young age.

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  • I had to pay my own way from a very young age, but nobody taught me about credit cards or loans. It was too easy to get that loan to buy what I wanted, or that charge card so I could buy better things and pay for it slowly. I ended up filing bankruptcy at 24yr.old.

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  • Good to know, I have quite a few years before my daughter goes to college, but this will be helpful.

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  • I made such a mess of my credit in college, so glad I pulled myself out of that. I think parents should really have a good talk with their pre-college kids about the stuff! Thanks for getting this out there so that others don’t have to go through the same mess that I did!

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  • I have very low debt and I tell my much younger sisters they need to do the same thing. It’s bad enough it took me almost 16 yrs to pay of my student loans!!

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  • I hate credit cars and will never have another.

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  • Thank goodness we were able to pay off our credit card debt of $22,000 and pay only by cash for our purchases now.

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  • Yes wish I knew about this back then!

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  • I wish I’d never gotten the credit card that I did. When my kids do go to college, it will be PREPAID.. not the bank saying “here’s this manage it” and then BOOM credits messed up!

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  • Very helpful, esp. since I’m in college!

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  • I am forever trying to teach my children the value of money

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  • I was bullied in Jr high I am now in my 40’s and still remember how that felt its awful!

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  • This is why my husband and I use a debit card, lol. We only spend what we actually have, and we make sure we have enough in our account to cover bills before we buy anything we don’t really need.

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  • I wish I have been taught how to handle credit cards, I guess Prepaid cards are the way to go

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  • Ah! I’m glad we didn’t have tables like that at my school. I’ve never been tempted to get a credit card at all. If I can’t pay for it in cash hypothetically, I know I can’t afford it.

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  • Ever since I was 14, I have been working in order to pay for things that I wanted. However, I wish my parents would’ve educated me on how to build credit properly. My mom has always been so against credit cards so I never got one. At 25, I have school debt and I tried getting a credit card and was denied. 🙁

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  • So imprtant to know, and I wish I knew this as a college student!

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  • Visa prepaid cards are great. you spend what you have instead of overspending.

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  • I know a card is neede for emergencies but cash is better sometimes. If its not there they cant spend it and no fees.

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  • This really is such a smart idea. I wish I had thought of doing this when I was younger. Thanks for this information. I will pass it on.

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  • The pre-paid Visa is a good idea. I think kids should really receive instruction in financial wisdom at a very early age. Great article!

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  • Myniece has a prepaid card that all of the family pitches in on and sends money. Works great!

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  • Wish I had a visa prepaid card when I was in college. It would have been easier being 18 and being allowed to have my first paychecks and funds from home go further. This is something I would consider for my daughter.

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  • Prepaid cards are such a good idea. My parents always make an effort not to spend more than they have, which I think is a great example.

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  • I’m a travel agent, and I recommend prepaid Visa cards to clients all the time. They’re a great way to set aside money for vacation spending, without opening temptation of an open line of credit.

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  • I gave my daughter a credit card with a limit in middle school. I wanted her to have some money in case of emergency. She never really used it until her father took her to Disney World. Would you believe it, when she went to pay for some plush animals the card would not go through. Thank heavens I could call the bank and get it straightened out. The cashier was so nice, she let me give her my credit card number and the purchase was approved. I love the prepaid card idea, I just think that when you get one, use it as soon as possible to make sure it works. I sometimes have problems with gift cards. But I love the prepaid cards, even if you loose it, you can report it stolen and be issued another.

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  • Yep, the credit cards I had at 18 took many many years to pay off. I am in my late 40s, when I turned 18 I received 2 credit in the mail, all I had to do to activate them for $2,500.00 each was sign the card and use it! I learned the hard (high interest way). I worked 58 hours a week and could cry when I think about all the money I could have saved and let work for me. We have a prepaid card that we use for ALL online purchases, it is just safer and you have the amount of money you decide on to spend.

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  • We have a Visa prepaid card through USAA for our tween daughter. We load her allowance on it and deposit any checks from grandparents. She babysits and she’s learning to manage her money. If she doesn’t have any, then she can’t buy something. Cash only. No credit.

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    • I didn’t even know USAA had Visa Prepaid- we use USAA!! Cash is so good!

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  • I think a prepaid Visa is a great idea for a college student. You can control how much is spent, and the kid can start building a bit of a credit history without too much risk.

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  • I love prepaid cards to stay out of debt.

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  • I saved money at college by going on the last day of a class I was to take next semister. With cash in hand buy the textbook and notes from a student leaving the last class – finals. It saved me big $ and i got the notes to study before class began. A win-win.

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  • i prefer to use a prepaid card instead of an intrest bearing credit card.

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  • I just have prepaid cards! It’s safer and you can’t get yourself into “trouble”
    raventally00@aol.com

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  • I only deal with prepaid credit cards..And have told my daughters to do the same.

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  • This is a good idea…although I will never get involved with credit cards again…unless it’s a prepaid card.

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  • I also learned in college very quickly that “free” wasn’t really FREE and that it came with a terrible debt. Thanks for sharing your story. I have one heading into college now and I am trying to keep her responsible in her spending and keeping up with grants/loans/scholarships because that debt can add up quickly and the credit cards get really tempting.

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  • Very good information. My son will be entering college this fall and this is what I planned to do. Just last week grabbing the mail he received a credit card offer. That went in the shredder soooooo fast. We have talked about credit cards numerous times, so I’m praying that he will listen once he’s on his own.

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  • Oh it is so important to teach our children and I think the Visa prepaid is a wonderful idea for kids in college! A great way to help them budget each month and not over spend.

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  • I am so glad I never had and never will get a credit card. I know so many people in debt because of them. Nowadays theres so many other options – such as the prepaid visa cards which are a smarter and still convenient option.

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  • We have one in college. I throw out all come on’s to get her to open up a credit card. I’ve also told her if she gets a credit card while in school she can move out. We do exactly what you suggest with the prepaid visa card. She does work at the school, but it doesn’t really cover enough. We put additional money on her visa card and it has to last her for a month. I do buy her things she might need such as hair color, shampoo, deoterant. She isn’t so far that she can not come home if she has to.

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  • Thanks for great, practical and useful article shared with us.

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  • Wow! Thanks for posting! Money is so valuable yet some kids flaunt it around like they have an unlimited amount of money!

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  • Yikes. I too grew up like you did with no hand outs. I have only had one credit card and I got it when I was in college. Thank you for the information about prepaid Visa cards. These sound great.

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  • I had heard of Prepaid Visa, but had never given any thought to using it. Thank you for the review, it sounds like it would be a great option.

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  • Our kids used to have a problem with pleasure spending before paying debts. Since moving out and being responsible for their own rent, vehicle payments, etc., they soon learned to step up to the plate and be responsible. I’m proud of them!

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  • Kids are so different. My 18 year old wants to spend his money before it’s even in his pocket. My daugther is going through university with student loans and has managed to save $16,000 since working as a teen. She plans on putting it all on her student loan when she’s done.

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  • Prepaid Visa cards are a great way to stay in budget for anyone, not just college age. I think these kids have a lot more pressures now at least it seems like that around here. It is impossible not to help them out because they have a huge school load and then add on sports which has become very intense. Add on religion and other activities there is no time left. Even older adults have trouble staying on track and this is a good alternative to a world that relies on plastic money by paying at the pump, buying online and other things like that.

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  • man… I’m in college right now… it’s definitely so easy to use up money as a college student… so sad.

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  • My daughter went straight to a four year university from high school. BIG MISTAKE! Yep, I said it. She got far more education in partying than anything else. We were always putting money on her student card and unbeknownst to us, she was paying for other people to have lunch; on us! She had no concept of the dollar or what it cost us to have her live in a private-room dorm. We did this for three and a half years (and summer terms) and then one semester from graduating, she dropped school. She is now 28 and swears she is going to go back and get her degree. Hind sight is 20/20 and we are at fault for NOT being honest about the costs involved, with her. We just figured we’d struggle any way we could to help her through college and she would graduate without debt. Another BIG MISTAKE! It was HER education, NOT ours. Sometimes it’s hard to let your kids really experience life for themselves….

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  • most kids today dont know what it means to EADN money..everything is given to them and thats what they expect in the REAL world…..Big wake-up!!!!!

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  • I have heard really great things about visa prepaid. I may look into it further! Thanks for the review!

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  • I still need help with spending ,and I’m not in college…this advice is good for anyone, regardless of age or situation.

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  • Never thought to use something like that but it would be great for my kids when they get older and more responsible.

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  • I was naturally good at saving and watching my money. Prepaid visa are a good tool to teach financial responsibility without getting into much trouble.

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  • I was in the worst debt ever for a few years after 18.
    Wish I would have had a prepaid card then.

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  • Well written and so true !! With Prepaid Visa you have the freedom to shop online ,Stores,Gas Stations etc. but helps you not overspend and going in debt

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  • My parents taught me well, if we wanted something we had to earn it. The only time I got into financial trouble was when I was laid off. A prepaid card would work well for College students however, you could just spend all the prepaid card and then still have nothing. Having to work hard for something will make you appreciate it so much more.

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  • I think a visa prepaid card would totally benefit college students and probably me as well. Awesome ideas!

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  • I got into debt a ton in my early college years. My parents never taught me anything good or bad about debt and my freshman year here comes tons of credit card offers my way. I didn’t know how to handle them properly.

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  • Kids today need to be taught from an early age the importance of money management. We taught our son to tithe 1/10 of his allowance, save 1/10 of it, and the rest he could spend. It wasn’t long before he realized how his savings were adding up, then he began to save more without our prompting.

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  • It makes sense to be able to budget and stick with a plan using a prepaid card. My wife and I are going to start using it for budgeting.

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  • I think my kids would benefit with a Visa prepaid card. They would have to control their spending instead of thinking my pockets are full of money.

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  • i love the visa card ty;)

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  • I was an old school piggy bank saver when I was a child. With Prepaid Visa I can spend my savings online anytime whenever I needed them but not risk of being in debt compared to credit cards.

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  • I learned how to manage money very good. I have a visa and it works for me everywhere I go so I think it is a good card to have.

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  • I was taught as a child how to manage money, by my mom sitting my brother and I down next to her, as she showed us her paycheck and then had us write out the checks for the bills where the money went. I was also taught about credit cards. I was taught not to apply for multiple cards (especially specialty, single-store cards, regardless of the discount you get for doing so). I was also taught not to spend more than I could pay off by the next month… spending anything more than that unless it was an emergency, I truly didn’t need. I also learned to call card companies and ask for lower APRs, and to always, ALWAYS, pay my bill on time. I was taught that a credit card isn’t free money, and because of this, I have excellent credit and no debt. I must say, the prepaid card is an excellent replacement for credit cards for young people, because if you spend it all, tough break for you, but it doesn’t ruin your life.

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  • Visa is international card and is very good.I have Visa card and is ok.

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  • Thanks for sharing. I think prepaid Visas are great. Credit card debt is out of control these days and it’s starting way too young. I’ve heard credit card companies have even sent cards/applications in names of the family dog. I don’t know how true that is but I believe companies can be greedy and unrelenting to get more people in debt.

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  • The FREE credit cards were available when I was a college student. I kept thinking but I can’t pay for this. Luckily I had the foresight to know I couldn’t handle a so-called ‘freebie’.

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  • I think the prepaid Visa card is a great idea. It is so easy, way to easy, for young people to acquire debt.

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  • Very insightful post. I’ve only ever had 1 credit card, that I did well on paying the bill each month until my ex husband lost (quit) his job. Thankfully, since I didn’t have any credit before that, we weren’t able to rack up more than $500 on the card (the company had me on a limit for the first year), but the late fees were horrible after we had no money to pay the bill each month. Now, because of that one card and a couple other bills that had to be put aside and paid late, I can’t even get a credit card with a limit on it for backup emergencies today (too little credit, all of it bad sadly). Thank God for pre-paid cards, and you can bet your last dollar that both of my kids will be using pre-paid cards until they are both out of college and I will be the “banker” or creditor, monitoring their spending and putting a kind of limit on the card so they can learn how to manage it better.

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  • I know the importance of good spending habits now, and I hope to instill the habits into my children. I know that I worry about how we’re going to get my daughter to college and how she will pay for things. A prepaid card sounds like the way to go, since it will help her keep track of her spending and help me see what she pays for. I’m glad that they have these cards around so that young kids these days won’t go into too much debt at such a young age.

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  • Prepaid cards are a good idea to budget your spending.

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  • This is a great idea for people like me who tend to overspend! I am in piles of debt because of my reckless spending habits. I wish I had known about prepaid cards sooner!

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  • I got a $100 VISA prepaid card and will never get another. I wanted to find out the balance available, tried online with no success, tried by phone and each time I called to check a fee was charged, I lost most of the card in fees.

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  • I’ve always lived a little “beneath my means” and this has boded well over the long haul. Back in the day, my family didn’t have much money, so maybe that helped me control my spending. I had to! But I’m no tightwad; I enjoy shopping and spending. I have to say, the Visa Prepaid card is a great idea for managing the spending of a college student.

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  • Prepaid is a great option. Many of us, like myself, have to learn the same way you did though….through trial and error. Credit card companies know what they are doing and do it well, shame.

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  • I like prepaid cards, they can keep a spendthrift, out of trouble. They are also a good way to be introduced to credit and how to manage and handle it.

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  • It is certainly a slippery slope to tread on. Fear not, you’re more like the majority, rather than the minority on this one. We live in a I WANT MORE world & credit card companies are only too happy to oblige. Honestly, I think they darn well KNOW that more than half the people that obtain a card are not going to keep up their end of the bargain on their own. But, they ALSO know, that as a large corporation, they have the financial backing to hunt us down, harrass us to no end & take us to court to get their money. They know they’re going to get their money. It may not be in the form of our monthly payments, but get it they will. Oh, & we’ll pay the court costs for that too. We DO need to teach our children about money & how it REALLY works in the REAL world.

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  • Credit cards and full time college students with or without a job is a bad combination. You have some great advice.

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  • pre paid is much better. we dont use credit

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  • Prepaid/Debit – spending only what you have cashwise.

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  • Oh, boy, you hit the nail on the head. My daughter did the same thing when she first went off to college. She is JUST NOW starting to whittle away the debt, and maybe, just maybe, by the end of the year, she will have her debt paid off. She says she is going to keep her Victoria’s Secret card, her Kohl’s card (both of those she manages very well), and ONE Visa card, and only use it in extreme emergency. She did just like you did and says she would never do that again!. I think the prepaid card is awesome. They can still be “cool” because they have a VISA, but they don’t have the ability to run it up into the thousands.

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    • I’mg glad she’s learning!! Or learned. It’s hard.

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  • I love the idea of prepaid credit cards. We use them for online purchases. They also help with budgeting, no spending more than you have.

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  • We don’t have any credit cards, except for our debit/credit card from bank. We believe living in our means, and not being in major debt. Granted we owe on house and car but other than that no other debt.

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  • Credit cards are very dangerous! Prepaid cards are much better

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  • I learn from every idea you wrote. Thank you for all the great tips and ideas.

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  • I did the same thing when I started out on my own. I really wish the credit card companies would not target college kids, but that’s probably a pipe dream.

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    • Some I signed up for because the card was fun colored! Seriously!

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  • I totally agree that parents should be doing more to teach their kids about finances and debt, and I think the parents also need to be taught and know more about debt so they can actually pass on good information to their kids. When I was a kid my mother made sure to teach me about money, and even had me make a budget for myself, and even though I had a small allowance (comparatively to other kids that I knew) for doing chores (and I didn’t get that week’s allowance unless my chores were done and inspected) I still used a budget and was able to apply that knowledge as an adult.

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  • Thank you for all the great tips and ideas! This is very helpful information especially right now that I am on Maternity Leave and it’s mostly without pay!

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  • after years of being in financial debt myself now i gave all my teenagers a prepaid card this is such a helpful and teaches them responsbility thanks

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  • First of all, what a great article!! I also grew up without handouts. I had my first job at 12 years old and have worked ever since. A pre-paid Visa card is a great way to teach our kids to spend money and monitor them. My son is only 13,but does odd jobs for neighbors to make his own money 🙂

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  • I didn’t get my first credit card until I was married…. I was able to keep up with my purchases and paying off the balance regularly, until we divorced. The purchases made just before our divorce were left for me to pay…and on the wages I had at the time, was impossible. So I got caught in the credit card trap. When I finally got out… I cut up all my credit cards and have never had another one since!!!

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  • I can’t even imagine having had a credit card before I had a full-time job. I would not let my kids have them or get them unless they were the pre-paid kind where they had to pay BEFORE they spent.

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  • Applying for multiple credit cards can also affect their credit rating by lowering it, even if they are paying for it responsibility. After graduation when they want to apply for something like a car or home loan, all of those credit cards may actually work against them even if they don’t have a great deal of debt. Much better to have a prepaid Visa card until they are earning a steady salary.

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  • I think this is a great idea. It teaches the responsibilities of a credit card without the financial damage. I will use this option for my child who is going off to college next year. Thanks for the article.

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  • I had something similar happen when I joined the Air Force. Suddenly, they were throwing credit card offers at me. I was 19 and stupid and I applied for everything. Fast forward 4 years and I was out of the military, my marriage ended and deeply in debt. I had to file bankruptcy and I lost everything. That was almost 20 years ago and I have never applied for anything on credit ever again. I can happily say I have no debt other than medical bills.

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  • I too am digging my way out of much credit card debt. It is not easy, especially after being laid off from my job last year. Prepaid cards are the way to go with curbing your spending.

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  • Lol, love that all you got was the freshmen 15 + 15. 😉 I was horrible about money as a young adult too. I’m hoping I can teach my children these important lessons along the way so they’ll do better than I did!

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  • We have worked hard to teach our kids to be responsible with their money. We got out son a debit card at 16 years old and made sure he understood how it worked. I think prepaid cards are a great idea for kids starting out.

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  • I love prepaid cards, I got into some credit debt just out of high school. I finally got it all taken care of.

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  • I like prepaid cards too because there IS a stopping limit and prevents debt. Thanks so much for sharing this information!

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  • I got into debt in college too, although I didn’t party & it was just because I worked full-time but still didn’t make enough to cover my cost of living. Still, it sucked really bad & I plan on making sure my son knows how to be smart with money before he’s off on his own!

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  • First I laughed at your small town in NH comment because I too grew up in a very small town in NH (Hillsboro, if you know it) and it was very difficult to find a job, one because there was not much there and two because you had to get your parents to drive you there.

    Second, my college years were a disaster moneywise and my adult years are still trying to catch up. I found that I was ill perpared for managing money and was enticed by credit card offers and get it now pay later aspects. That and I have a crazy amount of student loan debt which I will likely be paying off forever. I am hoping that my experience will help me teach my children better lessons about money then I was taught growing up and hopefully save them some of the heartache I have had to and still am going thru.

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  • A prepaid card is such a great idea, especially for young people who tend to over spend. Credit cards can really take over your life if you let them.

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  • The pre paid cards are okay, myself I would open them up a checkings acct. and give them the debit card, set up on line banking. so they could always see how much is in there. Vicki

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  • Oh friend, I can relate to this so much! It was my freshman year of college that did me in too! So depressing, I only recently finished paying off all of my debt in full. It’s sad to spend so much on credit and have nothing to show for it years later when you are paying it off! Pre-paid cards are a brilliant idea! Thanks for getting the word out there!

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  • I had this bad habit for a while and took a long time to break. I really think things like a prepaid visa card is a great option for those learning to control spending.

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  • I think Visa Prepaid cards are really good to use for the college student. It is true about getting credit cards and racking up a large bill while in college! Not a good way to start a life after getting out of college. College debt and a credit card debt is terrible way to start a new life!

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  • I really think a pre-paid card will help students control spending and perhaps plan their purchases more strictly.

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  • I agree…no credit cards. my college age daughter gets them all the time. and we do not even ask her..we just tear them up.

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  • Prepaid is the only way to go, wish they were around when i was younger.

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  • I am trying to teach my daughter about the credit card trap. You’d think, with me, the cheapo, for a mom, she’d learn. But no……

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  • I’d choose a prepaid over a credit card any day, especially when it comes with my kids when they get older. My debt was pretty out of control for a bit and thankfully my husband (boyfriend at the time) helped me with budgeting and not spending as much. This is definitely something we’ll do when my kids are away for school or even when they get in high school.

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    • I am glad to know I’m not the only one who has struggled!

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  • i think a prepaid card is a good idea! I was lucky and my mother taught me well and I have done pretty well so far 🙂

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    • Glad to hear it! I guess I”m the only one who was clueless. Or stupid 😉

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  • I think using prepaid cards is a great way to help your kids out and still keep tabs on where the money is going, so you can provide gentle guidance (or, you know, threats of getting cut off) when needed.

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  • Oh, I’m so glad my parents taught me well before I went off to college on not to fall into the credit card trap. That is such an easy time and prime target age! I love the prepaid visa card idea. You can keep track of where you are spending your money the most and adjust your spending habits. Plus you can’t go into a lot of debt.

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    • Yes, I’m a walking ad for how easy it is to get sucked in!

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