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My Teenage Son Spoils His Girlfriend with My Money, And Now I Am Afraid His Splurges Could Ruin My Credit

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While at a sports event for my son, one of the other moms, also of a high-school sophomore, and I were having a conversation about the kids’ credit. She mentioned that she was getting her son a credit card in order to build his credit and suggested that I get my son added to one of my credit card accounts as an authorized user in order to establish credit for him.

She made a good point stating that if they build credit during their high-school years when they’re in college, they can qualify for things on their own without needing a parent as a cosigner. 

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I thought this sounded like it might be a good idea, but wasn’t particularly in any rush to do it. Immediately, my mind went back to petrifying memories of my own overspending on my credit card and taking cash advances with little supervision from my parents to keep me on the straight and narrow. With that being said, I knew all too well that a teenager with a credit card could spell doom and financial destruction.  

However, several months later upon graduation I relented and got my 18-year-old son his own credit card. He has a job that assists with bringing in additional income for him, but he lives with his dad and me so all of his basic needs are met. Granted, my son doesn’t have to use the card in order to gain the benefit of building his credit, but his father thought it would be a great tool to help him learn financial literacy and responsibility.  

We set the rules early on and were very firm about it. We established the budget and informed him that if he had to go over because of an emergency, he should make us aware before we were to see it on his credit card statement.

For the first few months, it was smooth sailing, and things were going swimmingly. He never went over the $250 budget, and we were elated at the level of discipline being displayed. He was making solid purchasing decisions and showing respect for his creditworthiness until his relationship with his girlfriend went to another level.

They say love is blind, but it must also be deaf because our son was behaving as if he hadn’t heard a word we had said. He was so in love that he seemed to have completely forgotten about the rules we had established and agreed upon. 


Photo: Getty Images

Every time I checked, it was always a purchase for his girlfriend: shopping sprees, birthday presents, manicures and pedicures, high-priced food delivery services and bikini waxes! I was floored and truly disappointed. I was consistently having to tell him that he had gone over his limit, only to receive a somber and disingenuous response like, “Sorry, Mom. I’ll do better next month.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I love his girlfriend.  She’s truly the sweetest thing, but I’ve wondered if she has any idea that we’re partially funding their experiences! The last straw was his anniversary gift. He nearly doubled the budget for that gift. I had enough and told him to give me back the card. His response was flippant and slightly dismissive. He said, “Can I just Cashapp you for the amount I went over?” 

I need my son to understand that it is less about the money he is spending and more so about his lack of discipline and disrespect for our agreement and communication. I feel my attempt to help him learn financial responsibility has backfired, and now he’s inadvertently impacting my credit each month.  

Am I at fault for giving my son too much financial freedom? Should I give him back the card? How can I help him better understand financial responsibility and the importance of communicating when things change? 

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NOTE: This story has been edited for clarity and grammar.

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