Bickering Parents at Fault for Overspending College Students

Parents should get their financial house in order or it could mean their children are on the path to massive amounts of credit card debt once they reach college.

Money is the root of all problems, and even happily married couples can fall victim to bickering about finances, which can be damaging to more than just your relationship with your significant other. A new study revealed that parents that fight about money set their children on a path to debt.

A study out of East Carolina University (ECU) revealed that credit card debt among college students could be attributed to parental interactions, specifically their arguments. The work was published in Springer’s Journal of Family and Economic Issues.

The research team at ECU analyzed 413 undergraduate students at seven different American universities and found that parents who argue over finances contribute to increased credit card debt among their children when they become college students.

The survey examined a number of facts about the students’ finances and home lives including: credit card debt and number of credit cards owned; interactions with their parents when discussing finances; years of work experience; financial knowledge of credit cards, loans, insurance and personal finance; attitudes to credit cards; and how comfortable they are with only making the minimum payment each month.

Nearly two-thirds of students had a credit card and almost a third had more than one. Juniors and seniors were almost four times more likely to have two or more cards and females were more than twice as likely to have multiple cards.

If parents reportedly argued about finances, then those students were also twice as likely to have multiple credit cards.

All students with multiple cards were three times more likely to have credit card debt over $500. However, parental influence and parental arguments greatly affected this with students whose parents argued over finances more likely to have debt over $500. And parents’ income was not a significant factor. Children coming from relatively wealthy parents who fought were also likely to have higher debt levels.

“It is clear that the influence of parents cannot be underplayed,” the researchers wrote. “We need to help students and parents learn financial skills and establish healthy financial attitudes at earlier ages to prevent poor financial habits from taking root.”

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College Students and Credit Card Debt — Parents at Fault? - Springer