In many cases, your reply to your children when they want something in the store is that you cannot afford it, even if you can. But in some cases, there are families that are struggling to get by. It is important to explain the situation to children in terms that they understand.
If your family is struggling financially, it may be better in the long run to sit down and explain the situation to your children. If you don’t explain it to them, they will be able to see something is bothering you and will be more worried by not knowing what is wrong.
You don’t need to get into specifics with them, but tell them that due to current situations, you may not be able to spend money on things you previously have been able to. You may also need to ask for assistance such as discounted or free meals at school and assistance from local food banks.
It may be difficult, but it is important to cut back on your spending once your income situation begins instead of going into debt to keep up your current spending habits. Credit card debt and other debt can accumulate very quickly, and the longer you wait to address your situation, the deeper the debt will be. If you having trouble making ends meet, it will be more difficult once you have debt payments which will include interest payments.
If you are in a situation that you feel requires you to apply for financial assistance, explain to your children that the organizations are there for people and families that need assistance. It is not something to be embarrassed about. Many people who previously were doing fine financially came upon difficult times either due to a job loss, layoffs, medical expenses or other hardships. There are many more families looking for help to get by until their financial situation improves.
There may be programs with free counseling in your school system, church or offices in your area that help you and your family through this difficult time. It may be easier for children to learn about these difficulties from someone other than a family member. It may also be less stressful on you, than if you had to explain the situation to your children. They also may know of other families that are dealing with a similar situation and could possibly set up a meeting between the children so they can see they are not the only family going through this difficult time.
Once you do get back on your feet financially, it is important to stay on a budget and begin saving money so you have a cushion if something else comes up in the future. It is important to have an emergency fund or extra money saved for unexpected expenses that may come up.
You may want to keep your financial difficulties from your kids so they won’t worry, but it is important to discuss them so they know what is going on in your household.