HOW TO TALK TO THE KIDS WHEN MONEY IS TIGHT
MOM. It stands for Made of Money, right? Not so fast kids. It’s not easy to explain finance to a child who sees how easily you’re able to withdraw cash from an ATM or swipe the credit card. It almost seems like magic. If only it were that easy!
While the unemployment rate is dropping—at 6.1% nationally and 6.2% in Florida—there are still many people who remain unemployed or underemployed. You may find yourself among those families still struggling to make ends meet. You may have once been able to easily provide your children with what they wanted. They may be having a hard time understanding what is going on and may even be afraid about the family’s financial predicament.
Here are our top tips to start the conversation:
1) Be Honest. They don’t need to know every detail, but don’t hide what’s happening with the family’s shrinking budget.
2) Learn to Say NO. You are not depriving your child if you refuse to buy the must-have toy or t-shirt. We live in a day in age when instant gratification is almost the norm, unfortunately, which has put many people in a financial hole. By saying ‘no’ and explaining the desired item is not in the family budget right now, you are teaching your child an important life lesson about self-control and knowing the difference between wants and needs. Suggest they do some extra chores to earn an allowance to save up for what they want. If they are older, encourage a part-time job that does not interfere with schoolwork.
3) Set a Family Budget Together. Gather up the family for a meeting to discuss what’s most important after the housing, food and other important bills are covered. Maybe the kids will want to clip coupons or research cheap/free ways to spend time together as a family. Encourage brand conscious pre-teens and teens to find more affordable alternatives. Be a positive financial role model. Even though money is tight, encourage your kids to save for the future. If they are younger, give them a place to save their coins whether it’s a piggy bank or simple jar. Open a savings account for older kids to put their earnings away for later. The goal is to raise fiscally responsible kids with the hope they won’t ever have to have the same conversation with their own children one day.
It is important your child, no matter how old they are, understand money does not just magically appear. You have to work hard for it. The worst thing any of us can do is to raise a self-entitled child. It is not good for the child and it’s not good for the adult he or she will become. Even when things improve financially for the family, make sure you still have a family budget in place and continue to encourage your kids to save for the future. Kids.gov has some great games and learning tools for kids of all ages to learn about where money comes from and other great facts.