Explaining the economy to your kids

Happy June to all of you! Can you believe we are half way into the New Year…amazing right?! Well as promised I am writing the answer to the question…how do I explain the impact of the economy to my kids? More specifically, what do I tell my children when I’ve been laid off? My next post will include an activity sheet that you can use to help your kids keep track of and separate their money. Look out for this one…It has rave reviews from the schools!

When I was growing up I thought we (my parents) were rich! I never heard my parents argue or complain about money. Fast forward to me filling out financial aid packets in college and having to turn in my parents tax information; I realized we were not so rich after all and I wondered just how in the world my parents made ends meet and took care of three kids. Which brings me to the question…should you or should you not tell your kids your financial situation? I would say talk to them about it. Not to the point of doom and gloom and we’re not going to make it and we can’t afford this and that. Just sit them down when you are doing your financials and show them where the money is going. Years back, whenever a bill came, I would let my then 12 year old brother (whom I raised and has since graduated from College…WOO HOO!!!) write out the check and balance the check book. It makes good conversation. If he wants something and he doesn’t have the money, we negotiate terms and come up with ways for him to make the money. For example, once he wanted this little computer that was about the size of my purse. The cost was $399 on sale. I told him if he comes up with half then I am paying the other half. In about a month he was $50 away from reaching his goal. Part of that was credited to him having a birthday and receiving monetary gifts.

As for the layoffs and recession, either you tell your kids or they are hearing it on the news or in school. I was shocked the other day talking to a 5 year old who told me what his teacher said about the economy. I was surprised he knew what the economy was at his age. Letting your kids hear it from you is much more comforting, especially if you are calm about it. Not discussing it could make the kid(s) worry if you are going to lose your job or lose your house. You could turn it into a family event as well. You could tell them that you, as a family, are going to do your part and be more financially responsible. Tell them you are cutting back because of this so instead of buying lunch every day they are packing lunch some days. Play board games together instead of splurging at the video arcade. Get firestick or a redbox movie for $1 and pop some popcorn and watch a movie together. The movie theatre here sells those blueberry icees for like $4 or $5. It’s a must have for me when I go to the theatre but not since I found out that you can get the same icee from the Gate gas station for $1.09. You could also clip coupons for the items you really like. I was watching Oprah one night and some lady who is apparently an expert coupon clipper said she has saved $72,000 over the last 15 years by clipping coupons. I used to clip coupons in college but apparently it’s becoming more and more popular. This morning I was in the checkout line at the grocery store and they had a sign saying something about having so many coupons and the rules behind them.

Now I’m about to make a huge confession…some of you may like it, some of you may not. Some people think I’m crazy but this works for me. Years ago, before I got married, I decided to take an alternative route to my birthday presents and Christmas gifts. I didn’t want to burden anyone with the “expensive” things I like as gifts so I decided to start requesting things that I need. So on Christmas and birthdays I received things like paper towel, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, febreeze refills, laundry detergent and so on. I figured this wouldn’t break anyone’s bank and it would help me as well. Believe it or not, I really don’t like shopping so that change helped me tremendously. I went years without having to purchase any of these items. It was five years before I first purchased laundry detergent. I have something to say about that too. One year I saw a kid’s science project that showed that Sun washing powder with bleach whitened your clothes whiter than Tide or Cheer with bleach. Every since I saw that project I said I would try it if I ever ran out of laundry detergent. Well I purchased some buy one get one free…it was much cheaper than my normal brand. I’ll keep you posted and let you know. Until next time…happy money!

with love,

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