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Here’s another reason families should get their financial house in order: Fighting about money could be putting their college student on the fast track to debt. That’s according to a new study from East Carolina University, which surveyed more than 400 college students about how they spend and save.
In surveying the students online, the researchers found that nearly two-thirds of students carried one card, while about a third carried more than one card.
The initial assumption was that the more cards a student carried, the more likely they were to fall into debt. However, the study went one step further to find out why college students were toting those extra credit cards in the first place.
As it turns out, women were more likely to carry multiple credit cards, as were students who admitted in the survey that their “parents usually argued about finances.” In fact, the latter group was three times more likely to be carrying debt totaling over $500 than students who claimed their parents never quarrelled about money, even if they were from well-to-do homes.
“Parents’ income was not a significant factor in this study as to which parents may be more inclined to argue,” the researchers wrote, noting that an examination of how these arguments unfold could shed more light on our financial behaviours.
Though they didn’t come out and say the issues were a byproduct of upbringing, Adam Hancock, a co-author of the study, told Time’s Josh Sanburn he believes kids domodel their behaviour after parents, for better or worse.
“Kids growing up in that sort of atmophere may be witnessing some unhealthy financial decisions,” he said, “and they tend to act out those same behaviours.”
That’s because witnessing all that fighting can make them feel ill-equipped to deal with their own money problems later on. According to a study published in the Journal of Research on Adolescence in January, when parents bicker over money it seriously damages their child’s well-being.
Parents who reported dealing with the most “money-related chronic stress,” said their relationships with their children were the most fraught and strained, leading researchers to believe these children weren’t given the support system they needed to feel confident in their decisions when they faced their own monetary hurdles.
As Hancock told Sanburn, “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.”