Your teens have summer jobs? Three financial lessons to teach.

2. Debit vs. credit cards

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    In this Nov. 2, 2009 file photo, a customer swipes a MasterCard debit card through a machine while checking out at a shop in Seattle. Teach your teens how debit and credit cards work and the differences between them. While it may seem cool to swipe your card at a store, it's hard to track spending.
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To teens, it may seem cool or fun to swipe their debit cards at a store. But those purchases add up quickly, and it’s harder to monitor how much you spend when you swipe versus paying with cash. Explain how the card directly debits their checking account. Then talk about credit cards. It’s not at all uncommon for credit card offers to be mailed to teens. It’s important that you teach your kids that these offers are not “free money” and that there are all kinds of fees and regulations involved. If they’re younger than 18, they can’t even be approved for a credit card unless a parent co-signs. If you’re concerned with your teen building credit early on – and perhaps as a compromise for not getting that debit card – consider having them co-sign on a credit card with you. They will build credit based on your spending, so you don’t actually have to give them the physical card to use.

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