Fighting about Money Could Cost Your Kids Plenty

When mom and dad fight about money, their college-aged students are more likely to rack up credit card debt. So says Adam Hancock, who coauthored a just-published study at East Carolina University.

The study looked at the credit-card-carrying habits of 400 college students. Two thirds of them carried one card, while about one third had more than one. But the number of cards didn’t necessarily predict the student’s debt level. Instead, the students who told researchers that their parents “usually argued about finances,” were three times more likely to have balances over $500 than those whose parents never quarreled about money.

Interestingly, the parents’ income didn’t make any difference. Earlier studies have found that witnessing parental fights about money can damage children’s well-being. Kids whose parents suffered from “money-related chronic stress” and frequently argued about money, had the most strained relationships with those parents and had the least confidence in their ability to manage their own finances. “If they grew up like that and they’re not in college making their own financial decisions, chances are higher for them to have multiple credit cards and higher debt,” said Hancock in an interview with Time magazine.

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