Money

The simple money advice Queer Eye's Karamo Brown gives his sons

Karamo Brown
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

As one of the stars of "Queer Eye," Karamo Brown is accustomed to giving advice.

"There is no need to fear your tomorrow," he told the Chaffey College Class of 2019 during his commencement address, "because you believe in the person you are today."

As the hit Netflix show's resident life coach and counselor, Brown leverages his experience as a licensed psychotherapist and social worker to help the show's guests make healthy decisions about their emotional and professional lives.

But Brown, who lives in L.A. with his two sons and his fiance, Ian, doles out wisdom at home, too — especially when it comes to 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.'"

Jason Brown, Christian Brown, Ian Jordan and Karamo Brown at Karamo Brown's engagement party.
Tasia Wells/Getty Images

"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.'"

In college Brown racked up credit card debt that made it difficult for him to repay his student loans — something he wants to be sure his sons to avoid.

"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."

Brown also stresses the importance of building a healthy credit score. Since his sons were children, he says, "I've been telling them that their credit reports are their report cards for the world."

Karamo Brown and son Jason Brown celebrate his new book "Karamo: My Story" at Barnes & Noble at The Grove on March 07, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

For those who aren't lucky enough to get their financial wisdom directly from a parent with first-hand experience, Brown is a vocal advocate for financial literacy training in school. 

"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.

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