Learning the hard way in college

September 14, 2016 | GET MORE : Social Responsibility

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Ederick's misunderstanding about his credit card led to an awkward first date and an angry dad

My dad gave me an extension on his credit card for emergencies when I headed off to college as an 18-year-old in Caracas, Venezuela.

The first emergency came just weeks into my freshman year.

Her name was Adriana, a pretty girl who actually liked me.

I took Adriana out to Avila Tei, the nicest sushi restaurant in all of Caracas. The date was going well and when the bill came, I threw my credit card down on the table with gusto. Our waiter returned a few minutes later.

"Excuse me, sir, there's problem on your card," he said.

"Hmm, may I use your phone?" I asked.

I called my dad.

"Dad, you forgot to pay the credit card!" I said.

My dad just started laughing. He asked me where I was. He laughed again, and asked me to hand the phone back to our waiter. At my dad's direction our waiter motioned for me to hand him my card. I happily did so, thinking everything would be just fine. However, he proceeded to cut my card into pieces.

At that point, a feeling of real emergency hit me. Then embarrassment, as Adriana paid for our dinner at what turned out to be our first and only date.

My dad took this experience to teach me a lesson about managing my money, albeit one I gift-wrapped for him inside a scolding. We'd never really talked about money in my family, nor had I learned about it in high school.

This was in 1994, but years later it's still common for college students to learn about money the hard way. In a recent survey we found the vast majority of college students say they look to their parents first for financial advice but, at the same time, only one in five says his or her parents taught them specifically how to manage money.

With this in mind, at U.S. Bank we built out a site – Student Union – with financial education tools to help fill in these gaps. Students can also apply for scholarships by completing a series of short online personal finance courses covering credit, budgeting and more.

One thing you won't find on the site? Directions to five-star restaurants.

Ederick Lokpez is director of engagement strategies for U.S. Bank's customer experience office, leading the bank's Student Union program.