“There is no need to fear your tomorrow,” Karamo Brown told the Chaffey College Class of 2019 during his commencement address, “because you believe in the person you are today.”
It’s not doubt that the Queer Eye star is accustomed to giving advice. Brown uses his experiences as a licensed psychotherapist and social worker to act on the show as the resident life coach and counsellor, guiding guests into making healthy decisions for their lies.
However, the L.A. resident gives solid advice at home with his two sons and fiancé, Ian, as well, especially concerning personal finance.
“What I say to my sons is ‘credit cards are not free money,’” he tells CNBC Make It. “Sometimes, when you’re younger you think, ‘Oh, this is free money for me to do what I want to do with it. I know I need to pay it back, but I have time.’”
“I would definitely tell my 18-year-old self not to get that credit card, because my first credit card set me on a path like you cannot imagine,” he says. “I did not have the financial literacy I needed, so I got this credit card and I was spending thinking ‘Oh, I’ll pay this back. I’ll pay the minimum balance.’”
Been There, Done That
Brown knows exactly what he’s talking about as he’s lived it. As a college student, he racked up so much credit card debt that it was nearly impossible to pay it and his student loans back, and he wants his sons to make wiser choices than he did.
“I said don’t get a credit card until you get to pay off the entire balance each month. Because otherwise you’re just paying interest that’s compounding that you can get stuck paying for the rest of your life.”
He also talks about the benefits of building your credit score. “I’ve been telling them that their credit reports are their report cards for the world,” Brown says.
Brown has always been a prominent advocate for financial training in school for kids that aren’t lucky enough to have a parent who can give them advice.
“When we encourage young people, who are 17 or 18, to take on this big responsibility of going into college, taking on debt, we should be in high school, teaching them how to have the financial competency so they can make better decisions,” he says.