While some parents are trying to protect their school-age children from knowing too much about the recession, others are talking about it to their children. Ask families across the country, and they will probably say that money is tight. Families are cutting back on their expenses in big ways. It is time to be Talking To Kids About Money.
Talking To Kids About Money
Telling our kids about how we need to cut our spending since my job has changed a lot has been a smart idea. The kids appreciate being told the truth, and they feel empowered because they are actually contributing their ideas about saving money in the house. Of course, there are some discussions about money that children don’t need to be present for. Family conversations about money should be kept upbeat.
Since money skills are not always taught in school, parents can take advantage of lessons that naturally arise. Here are some ideas to help children learn about money and the decisions people make that revolve around money.
Make Your Own Money Stories
Parents can give their kids different scenarios and ask them what they would do. For example, a parent might say: “It’s the middle of winter, and the family TV breaks down on the same day that the hot water heater overflows. There is only enough money in the savings account to repair one thing. What do we do?” Kids can decide whether it is most important to fix the TV or the hot water heater. Parents can discuss these decisions as they relate to their families.
Talk About Needs and Wants
Parents can ask: “What is the difference between a need and a want?”
While a thirteen-year-old girl may say she needs mascara because it will make her lashes full, is it really a need? Parents and children can make a list of their family’s needs and wants. They can discuss some of the things kids might need and want verses some of the things adults might need and want. The family can talk about whether there are any needs or wants that don’t cost money.
Revise the Family Budget
Parents can challenge the family to come up with ways to trim the fat from the weekly budget. They can brainstorm ideas to help save a few bucks each day, such as suggesting that kids make their own lunches instead of buying in the cafeteria every day. Also, kids can swap books and CDs with their friends to save cash. What about setting up a hand-me-down clothing and toy swap for several families to share together?
Hit the Bank
Parents can set a piggy bank on the kitchen counter. Everyone can fill it with loose change each day. After a few months, the family can decide what to do with the money. Everyone in the family can talk about what it feels like to save for something special.
Comb the Shelves for Bargains
Parents can ask their children to accompany them to the grocery store. The kids can experience firsthand the challenge of buying a week’s worth of food for a specific dollar amount. The kids can comparison shop for the best buys. Does it make sense for the family to buy in bulk? Does the family always need to buy labels, or are store-bought brand all right? Then the family can talk about these challenges. Also, they can learn to use coupons.
Free Time Can be Free Time
Parents should encourage their children to spend more quality time together. It may cost too much money to spend the day at the beach, the mall, or the movies, but it’s not too costly to hit the park or take a walk as one big, happy family.
Take a Look at Jobs
Parents may want to give their kids some background about which jobs are most in-demand, despite the economy. Parents can then give their kids a list of jobs and job descriptions and ask them to think if it would be a smart career choice for them or not.
Look at History
Parents can briefly talk about the history and how the nation has survived difficult economic pressures before. Explain that what goes down will eventually come up again. Parents can share information, depending on the age and interest of the children.
All parents want to protect their children from the seriousness of the recession, but many already know that there are problems with the economy. And while many adults are stressed and worried about their finances, the bottom line is that children are very resilient. They will work to find creative solutions.