DEAR HARRIETTE: I just found out that my daughter has been using her emergency credit card, which I gave her when she went away to school, for frivolous purchases. I gave her this card with the confidence that she would use it in case she were ever stranded and needed it for safety.
I know she is using this to buy herself expensive sushi dinners, but I can’t bring myself to take it away. I would never forgive myself if something happened to her. How many more chances should I give her with this credit card? -- First Strike, Towson, Maryland
DEAR FIRST STRIKE: Your daughter needs to learn how to be responsible with the card. Rather than taking it away from her, let her know that she must pay the bill. This means she may need to get a part-time job while she’s at school. This is very common for college students. Suggest that she speak to the administration office to learn of work-study jobs that might be available. She may want to talk to a professor in her major to see if she can work a few hours a week with him or her. Don’t do the legwork for her.
Give your daughter a certain amount of time to repay you for the extraneous charges she made. Remind her that the card is exclusively for emergencies. Give her a list of what you consider emergencies to be, and have her agree out loud so that there’s no question about usage.
If she complies, let her keep the card. If she does not, take back the card and let her know that she will have to call you in case of emergency. She has to experience the consequences of her actions, or she will not learn.