How do you make sure you don’t spoil your child when you’re wealthy?
I know this will sound mean to some people, but you simply explain to them that they are not wealthy.
I remember a time years ago, after we’d gone broke, that we managed to scrimp and save and finally had a little bit of wealth. We bought a nice car and my son piped up from the back seat, all smug and satisfied, “We’re doing pretty good, huh?” I’ll admit it was kind of funny, but it was also a teachable moment. I looked at him and said, “I’m doing pretty good, but you’re broke!” That was a pretty consistent message around the Ramsey household as the kids were growing up. If you’re not working and making your own way, you’ve got nothing.
The second thing is we taught them, from a very young age, was to work. That can start with simple things like kids cleaning up their rooms or doing the dishes after dinner. It should carry over to the teenage years as well. Every able-bodied child should be working and earning money, whether it’s their own entrepreneurial idea, at a store in the mall or babysitting.
The third thing we did was based in our faith. As evangelical Christians, we taught our kids that we don’t really own anything. It all belongs to God, and one of our jobs is to wisely manage the things He entrusts to us. The first rule is to take care of your own household—the important stuff. After that, it’s okay to have some nice things, but it’s not all about pleasure. It’s also about giving and extraordinary levels of generosity.
Teach them to work. Teach them to be givers. And gently remind them once in a while that they’ve got nothing until they go out and earn it.
A rough lesson
My dad opened a credit card account in his name a few years ago to help with my college bills, and he made me an authorized user. Now he’s delinquent on the card and I’m receiving collection calls and notices. Do I owe the credit card company money?
No, an authorized user is not liable. The account is in your dad’s name, and you didn’t sign anything. He’s the one legally responsible for the money owed.
I want you to be careful, though. Lots of credit card companies will badger people and use all kinds of pressure and guilt trips to try to collect money from people who don’t owe them anything. They just want their money, and they really don’t care who writes the check.
Get them to remove you as an authorized user today. Send them a letter demanding this via certified mail, return receipt requested, so you’ll have proof. Also, make sure they understand that you’ll sue them for about $10 million if they don’t comply immediately. You shouldn’t be reported to the credit bureaus for any of this, but companies can report just about anything—even inaccurate information—to the bureaus.
You have rights as a consumer, and you are not legally liable for credit card debt when you’re just an authorized user. But make sure you check your credit report regularly in the future. Some of these companies make a habit of repeatedly downloading misinformation to the bureaus in an effort to bother and bully people into paying debts they don’t owe!
Dave Ramsey is a trusted voice on money and business. He’s a best-selling author and his radio show is on more than 500 radio stations. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.