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Talking about money troubles with children

September 22nd, 2020
Talking about money troubles with children
For your child to be savvy about money, it is important to talk to them about money and although you may think that this means teaching them the different coins and how they can be saved in a piggy bank to buy things, talking about money also means explaining to them about the money difficulties you are experiencing and discussing with them some good ways to stretch your money further.

The most important point is to make sure that what you tell your child is age appropriate as you do not want them to feel overburdened with the problem or in some way to think that it is their fault. Your child needs to understand that pennies are tight and the reasons why and that there are clever ways to improve the situation. With the end of furlough now on the horizon for many workers, there will be similar conversations taking place in countless households.

Explain to your child what has happened.

The business world is currently in a volatile situation and most children will have seen enough on the television to realise that many people are having problems with jobs. If you have lost your job, your child needs to know, but will be relieved when they know you are job hunting. If you run your own company, they will be able to understand when you explain that you have not had as many customers recently.
….and what lifestyle changes will be needed.

Children understand easily when you explain that there will not be any spare money for holidays, meals out or clothes and will realise that there will be changes to the food budget too. It is important to explain all these points and not hide them. Make sure that you tell them that family time will remain special, but it will be on a budget so will include walks in the country or by the sea or going for a family bike ride. You can get adventurous with your ‘meal out’ and it can be a picnic in an unusual place!

Be optimistic in your approach.

Remain optimistic in your approach to the situation and this will be a really good lesson for your child who will be carefully watching how you deal with the situation. Explain why one of his parents is no longer working or what other reason has caused the strict budgeting – don’t go into too much detail, but enough that your child understands. Get your child to suggest ways to reduce the food and other domestic bills and let them help you write shopping lists. Have fun with your child working out how much each meal costs and let them do the sums. If you are heading to the supermarkets to scoop up some ‘end of day’ bargains, let them search with you and help decide what to buy.

Agree with your child how important it is not to leave lights switched on, run hot water for a long time, waste food etc. Get a piggy bank and fill it with all the small change you acquire as it soon becomes a sizable amount and your child will love to count it! Teach them our granny’s maxim:
‘Look after the pennies and the pounds look after themselves’.
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Beware of negativity.

Children are super quick to pick up on any negative vibes about your situation and if they over hear their parents arguing about the situation this will have a huge negative impact. Ensure that you do not blame your partner for the current situation as your child will feel loyal to you both and in a difficult situation.

Tempting though it maybe, do not hide behind your child and let them deal with difficult telephone calls or visitors – that is totally unfair and will send all the wrong signals. Let them see how you deal with such difficult moments and how you are trying to find a good solution such as repayment schemes.

Teach older children how to budget.

This is certainly a good lesson that all children need to learn for the future, so why not get them to discuss the family budget? It will be good for them to see how quickly all the different bills add up and help them to appreciate money. Determine how much ‘extra’ money you will have each week and let them decide how it should be spent- you will be amazed how quickly they will become thrifty!

You may well find that they want to visit a charity shop to spend the money on family board games – what a great idea! A big bonus of having to ‘pull in the financial reins’ is that you will have more time to share together and your entertainment will be the cheaper things in life – reading, cooking and those family games! Think up some unusual fun pursuits such as a night spent stargazing or cooking a dish together using just four ingredients – if you remain upbeat and optimistic your children will too.

The most important thing your child needs to know is that you are a team and even if you have to relocate and they have to change schools, you have a great love holding you together and it will all work out in the end….

Chrissie x

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