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It's Back-to-School Time. Are Your Kids Credit Ready?

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I noticed that the back to school commercials started in early August. We buy our kids new pens and binders and then send them off. (Or in my case, my daughter headed to college, so I had to buy her more than pens and binders!)

If your child is older -- in high school or especially if they are in college -- now is the time to get them thinking about credit.

Their credit score is going to be something that follows them around for their entire lives and can potentially impact their employment, their ability to find and furnish a home and even their romantic relationships. Those credit scores don't magically appear -- they are derived from credit habits.

So while your children are learning in school, you should take the opportunity to teach them about the one thing that they need to know but that schools don't teach them -- credit habits. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

• Get them set up with a few of their own accounts (such as putting their cell phone in their own name).

• Consider having them apply for a credit card if they are old enough (and if you're worried about them using it irresponsibly, consider guiding them toward a secured credit card, which will have the same positive impact on their credit score but won't allow them to spend more than the amount loaded on the card).

• Instill the importance of paying debts on time and making sure that payments are made in full.

• Show them what a credit report looks like and encourage them to pull theirs every six months (even if they have little on it right now, the habit is good to start and it's much easier to master a credit report when there isn't much info on it).

• Encourage them to find a job to reduce any potential student loans (which can hang around for decades and hamper the ability to get credit on other things).

• Model good credit habits in your own life.

As parents, we always want the very best for our kids -- and that's why we make them go do school and learn. Unfortunately, some school systems misses out on teaching them about one of the biggest components of your child's life: Credit. So it's your job as a parent to make sure they are equipped with the knowledge and skills and habits to build their credit and you'll enable them to become even more successful in life.