Tips for Kids When Money Is Tight at Home

Money tight this holiday season? You’re not alone. Although some families are doing much better with the slow turn in the economy, others are still struggling. And, with your kids’ holiday lists often filled with expensive techy gadgets and gizmos, it can be overwhelming. Parents may be more stressed out than usual or arguing more. Some parents may even have to take on a second job. It can also be equally frustrating and upsetting for some kids to understand these issues. 

When the moment is right, be sure to calmly discuss news about belt-tightening concerns with your children. Keep the conversation light and appropriate to their maturity level. Be sure to listen to your children’s concerns and accentuate the positive. Reassure them that it is perfectly normal to feel anxious or sad about economic troubles.

Your children may show interest in helping where they can. If so, encourage them and share with them the following ideas that will not only make them feel like they’re contributing, but may help them cope with their frustration too. Remind your kids or teens to:

Think like an entrepreneur! Perhaps it’s time to hold a yard sale to get rid of the old toys and baby gear in the basement — or help your parents sell these items online. If you’re good at navigating online auction sites, you could charge people a fee to sell their old stuff.

Prioritize and plan for what you want. When you want something, write it down. Next to it, write how much you want it on a scale of 1-10. Keep this list going (items may move up or down the scale as you add new ones). Then figure out a plan to earn any must-have rewards.

Practice the art of patience. Some of your friends might have the latest cell phones, video games, and basketball shoes, but others may be having a tougher time than you. You may not be able to get everything you want, but now is a chance to see if you can master the art of patience without envying friends or feeling negative about your parents.

Focus on the positive. Writing down (or drawing) your frustrations in a journal can be a big step toward dealing with them. But also try to write down three things that you are grateful for each day.

Help your friends. What if a friend is in a really tight spot? Even if you can’t think how to help, try just listening: Tell your friend you know it must be hard and that you’ll be there for support no matter what. Most friends welcome the chance just to talk through feelings and know that someone understands.

Talk out troubles. If you are worried, find a good time and talk to your parents about it. Let them know you can handle the truth. If your parents are fighting, seem stressed, or are sad or angry all the time, talking can really help. If you can’t talk to your parents right now, lean on a friend, teacher, or counselor.

Don’t burden yourself. It’s good to learn how to deal with change, as well as step in to help friends and family. But it’s also good to remind yourself that you’re still young and family money troubles are outside your control.

For more tips, visit CHOC’s Kids Health education resource.

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Fun and Inexpensive Activities for Teens

Everyone is looking for ways to save these days – including your teens! The recent hike in gas prices doesn’t help, either. While there are many belt-tightening steps that you can take as a family, here are a few entertainment ideas for your teens. These creative activities for the weekend can help their wallets – and yours too!

  • Start your own ghost tour. Halloween is coming! Check out the creepiest houses in your area and take friends on “haunted house” tours so you can all make up stories about what might have happened there. If you live in a historic town you may be able to research town history and discover enough interesting stories to put together a real tour.
  • Have a karaoke party. The worse the singing, the better the fun.
  • Borrow a teach-yourself book or CD from the library – on many topics! Learn a new language, or how to make  inexpensive holiday gifts. You may find a lot of do-it-yourself tips online too.
  • Redecorate your room without spending a dime. Use only stuff you have around the house or found items like shells or old furniture. Discover new uses for old things, like making pillows and lampshades out of old dresses.
  • Design your own clothes or jewelry. Check out thrift stores for clothing you can cut up and customize, or use found items to make jewelry.
  • Plan a surprise picnic for your friends. Do the whole blanket and picnic basket bit, then find a park or beach and take in the view.
  • Cook dinner for your loved ones. Find a fun and easy recipe and cook for your family or friends. They will appreciate it for sure!
  • Host a movie night. Select your favorite movie and invite your friends over. For a fun alternative, you may want to contact your local library, which often loans out movie projectors and movies for free. Have everyone bring their favorite treat and popcorn to share. Enjoy!

Check out these additional tips to talk to your kids about money issues.

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    Money tight this holiday season? You’re not alone. Although some families are doing much better with the slow turn in the economy, others are still struggling. And, with your kids’ ...
  • Talk To Your Kids About Money Issues
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Talk To Your Kids About Money Issues

Talk about the economy is far from over, and if you haven’t already, it’s important to speak to your kids about it. Kids hear what’s going on from their friends, school, neighbors, etc. And chances are, if money is tight and it’s worrying you, it’s probably worrying your kids too.

When the moment is right, calmly discuss news about unemployment or belt-tightening and any concerns with your children. Make sure your conversation is age-appropriate and light. Here are some tips to consider when talking to your kids about money issues:

  • Keep talking! If economic problems continue, children may need periodic updates about what’s happening.
  • Listen to your children’s concerns.
  • Reassure children that it is perfectly normal to feel anxious about current economic troubles.
  • Emphasize that you are actively addressing the family’s financial situation.
  • Use job loss to teach children about the wisdom of saving money.
  • Accentuate the positive, including the strength of your family’s love.

For more tips on this timely topic, click here: http://www.choc.org/publications/articles.cfm?id=P00303&pub=KH&aid=513