Let's Talk to Our Kids About Money
Dear Readers: With so many families around the country facing financial challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, I'd like to devote this column to discussing ways that we as parents can best help our kids through these challenging times.
One of the most insidious parts of this pandemic is that it has undermined our sense of personal safety. For millions of Americans, the toll of medical, emotional and financial stress is piling up. And it's not just impacting adults; our kids, regardless of whether they're 5 or 15, are likely feeling the effect as well. Although I can't offer a cure-all, I CAN offer one powerful remedy: TALK.
Trust me, I know talking about money can be hard. We assign all sorts of values to money -- success, love, security or even self-worth. Many of us come with our own baggage, which can further complicate things.
But the good news is that once you understand and overcome these obstacles and are able to have open, honest and nonjudgmental conversations about your finances, the resulting clarity and confidence can be powerful, both for you and the rest of your family.
First, Get a Handle on Your Finances -- and Your Emotions
Before you start talking to your kids, it's best to do some prep work on your own. If, like so many Americans, you're facing a reduced income, there are lots of positive steps you can take to manage your new situation.
Although your income may be reduced, it's possible some of your expenses have gone down as well. Or perhaps you have an opportunity to redirect money away from some nonessentials to focus on higher priorities. As a short-term strategy, you may be able to reprioritize your bills, and take advantage of government benefits and programs that have been designed to assist families in need.
If you have a partner, make sure you're on the same page. Go over your budget together, and talk out any differences. It won't help if you tell your kids one thing and your partner has a different take.
My hope is that once you've gone through these steps and made a plan, you'll start to feel a little better and a lot more in control. But be sure to address your feelings. In times like these, it's natural to feel frightened and anxious. And if you're overly anxious, your children will pick up on it -- and that can only make them fearful as well.
So take some time to talk through any stress with your partner, friends or a trusted professional. Once you feel grounded, you'll be in better shape to open up the conversations with your children.