FFA students learn to build a good credit score

Matthew Weaver/Capital Press Washington FFA State President Cole Snider of Enumclaw, Wash., greets members at last year's Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum in Spokane. The FFA offers a special session to its members every year.

FFA students will get an early start on learning the importance of building good credit card scores at this year’s Spokane Ag Expo.

University of Idaho Extension educators Luke Erickson, of Madison County, and Lyle Hansen, of Jerome County, will present “Credit Score Millionaire” during the FFA program, which begins at 9 a.m. Feb. 6 at the DoubleTree Hotel during the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum.

Erickson and Hansen’s presentation includes a brief animated video of the potential impacts of a credit score on career options and opportunities, and a game show.

“The take home message is that it’s not rocket science to build strong credit, but it is extremely important to know some of the ground rules for building credit properly and for avoiding the common pitfalls that may result in substantial financial losses,” Erickson said.

He said the last few years of high school are a good time to begin educating young adults on credit score benefits and perils.

“The day students turn 18, their credit reports can be accessed by six major industries, including lenders, insurers and employers,” Erickson said. “Unfortunately, it only takes a few bad borrowing decisions to destroy a person’s credit, and it can take years to undo such bad decisions.”

It can also cost tens of thousands of dollars in higher interest and premiums, and untold costs from missed employment opportunities, he said.

Before age 18, teenagers can begin building credit as an authorized user on a parent’s credit card account. Erickson said the key is to become an authorized user only on a responsible person’s account, as that account can both positively or negatively affect students.

At 18, a person can sign up for loans, although it can be difficult without an established credit history. Many turn to payday lenders or other subprime lenders for quick, easy loans, Erickson said, mistakenly thinking this will help establish credit. Subprime loans only build negative history, even when used responsibly.

“The next big mistake is getting a traditional loan like a credit card or an auto loan and missing a few payments here and there,” he said. “It only takes a handful of missed payments to do a lot of damage to a credit score.”

Erickson teaches the Credit Score Millionaire program to a variety of groups, including youth and adults. This will be his first presentation at Spokane Ag Expo.

“I definitely think that FFA students overall are above average when it comes to general skills and levels of responsibility, so I don’t think they are more likely, per se, to end up in a bad credit situation,” he said. “But I do know that no one is immune from potentially negative borrowing decisions unless they are well-educated on how credit works.”



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