Q. I’m thinking of getting my son a credit card on my account when he goes to college. Are there ways to limit how much he can spend — except for threatening him, of course!
— Strategist

A. This may not be a great idea.

You could limit how much a child spends by having a limit on the credit amount available on that card, said Stephen Craffen of Stonegate Wealth Management in Oakland.

That may be problematic if it is linked to your credit card, he said.

You would be limiting not just your son’s credit, but your own credit, too.

He said another option is to open a joint banking account for your son at your bank and have the bank issue a debit card. That way he can only spend what is in the account, limiting your potential liability.

“You can pre-load the account electronically each month from your main account at the bank,” Craffen said. “This way you can control his spending, and also provide him with more money from time to time if he has an extraordinary need.”

Craffen said he is always leery of liabilities that you could potentially lose control of, but with the debit card, you are controlling the situation. You’re also encouraging him to be responsible and that responsibility means only spending money that exists rather than spending money that comes from debt, he said.

“We know that plenty of parents do give their children credit cards, but we have seen horror stories where they spent carelessly and their parents were on the hook for the money,” Craffen said.

Email your questions to ask@njmoneyhelp.com.

Karin Price Mueller writes the Bamboozled column for The Star-Ledger and she’s the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com. Click here to sign up for the NJMoneyHelp.com weekly e-newsletter. Like NJMoneyHelp.com on Facebook and follow it on Twitter


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