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

3 Flares 3 Flares ×

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.

Google+ Comments

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

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

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

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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!

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

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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.

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

      Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • I love prepaid cards to stay out of debt.

    Reply
  • 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.

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

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

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

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

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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.

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

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

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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!

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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.

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

    Reply
  • 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….

    Reply
  • 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!!!!!

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

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

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

    Reply
  • 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.

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

    Reply
  • 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

    Reply
  • 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.

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

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • i love the visa card ty;)

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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.

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

    Reply

Leave a Comment