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Credit card debt often begins in college

If you have a child going off to college this fall, you’re likely concerned about all sorts of potential dangers. Let’s discuss one you may not have considered.

Credit card companies target college students, often with booths and representatives set up on campus. They’re a valuable commodity. A person who gets their first credit card before they’re even out of their teens will have decades ahead of them to rack of credit card bills — and likely pay a significant amount of interest over the years.

The offer of a credit card in their own name is very tempting to most college students. It represents independence and adulthood. However, young people often get credit cards without understanding how they work and how easy it is to accumulate debt they can’t pay off.

Many young people are graduating from college with overwhelming student loan debt as well as thousands of dollars of credit card debt. Add a car loan to that and they may owe far more every month than their income will cover. Unless they want to continue living with their parents, they also have rent and a multitude of other monthly expenses for necessities alone. That doesn’t even take into consideration the money needed to have any kind of social life.

One young man recently penned an essay for about his own bankruptcy at the age of 26. He talked about maxing out the first credit card he got at just 18 before moving on to a second card. Coupled with his student loan and auto loan debt, his financial situation only worsened after college until he filed for bankruptcy.

There are regulations that prohibit credit card companies from issuing cards to people without a regular income unless they have a co-signer — like a parent. Unfortunately, that means that parents can get stuck with their kids’ credit card bills on top of their own debt.

If you’re facing overwhelming debt that’s making it difficult to cover your everyday bills and living expenses, it’s important to take action sooner rather than later. It may be worthwhile to explore the possibility of bankruptcy as an option for getting out from under that debt.

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