Financial literacy: Critical tips for young adults to handle money, credit, overall finances wisely

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Saturday, August 26, 2023
Critical tips for young adults to handle money, finances wisely
'I think my generation, in general could definitely be more educated about finances.' As your children get older, teaching them about handling money, finances, credit and debit cards is just as important as learning math or how to read and write.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Parents often make it a point to know who is teaching their children math or how to read and write. But do you know who is teaching your young adult children about money?

Barbara Osborn has a daughter in college and wanted to prepare her, but didn't really know where to look.

"I'm just looking randomly for like, how do you prepare your child financially for college?" Osborn said.

Her daughter Zoee Drimmer is now a sophomore at Barnard College in New York and feels she has a pretty good understanding of money, but financial literacy can be a challenge for some of her classmates.

"I think my generation in general could definitely be more educated about finances. I think it varies," Drimmer explained.

In general, children will model the spending habits of their parents. But if you want to prepare them for when you aren't available, finding a trusted source like the California Public Interest Research Group could help. CALPIRGs Smart Money, Smart Kids is a resource that can help young adults avoid learning about money the hard way.

"Often times that is because of mistakes that they've made, whether that's going into debt with a credit card because they didn't understand how credit cards work or having overdraft fees with their checking account, and then worse, falling victim to a scam," said Jenn Engstrom, the State Director of CALPIRG.

Scams have become much harder to spot thanks to the growth of AI, so don't simply find a credit card online because you could end up on a scam site. It's best to apply in person at your bank. And while your kids likely have a bank account, make sure they know how checking and savings accounts work.

Venmo and Zelle are great but should be used with caution because money sent isn't coming back. And while checks aren't common anymore, knowing how to write one is important.

"Could you do that?" asks Osborn. "I don't know...I think I could figure it out. I mean I've definitely seen my mom write checks here and there," Drimmer said.

And kids need to know how dangerous it is to leave blank checks unprotected. It's possible to get money back from a stolen check, but it's not guaranteed.

And don't tie debit cards to your main checking account. If money is stolen, again, you might get it back, but it takes longer than a credit card.

And if you are building good credit with a credit card, young adults need to know how to dispute a fraudulent credit card charge.

And it's important to promptly deal with a financial issue. However, don't be tricked by someone demanding immediate action, address it with your financial institution. And always protect your personal information.

That seems obvious, but phone apps and social media make personal information more accessible online and websites with a "cookie consent" pop-up use our information to track us, so don't click "accept."

"And don't make any assumptions that they've figured some of this stuff out. You should just start from the beginning and make sure you walk through it step by step," says Engstrom.