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Financial Tips To Help Families Cope

Dear Elizabeth,
I’m the single mother of a 4-year-old and I’m struggling to make ends meet. How can I help make sure my daughter is not affected by our challenges?
Cheryl Metcalf
Memphis, TN
Elizabeth's Tips
Elizabeth Sanchez
Elizabeth Sanchez
  • Create and stick to a budget
  • Take time to think before spending
  • Seek professional advice
Expert Advice
Dr. Charles Sophy
Dr. Charles Sophy
Child psychiatrist
How Finances Affect Financial Dynamics
Family dynamics are something that's kind of like the energy of how you flow within your family, who makes the decisions, how you eat together, all those kinds of things. But it starts at the top. Mom and dad have to be solid. They have to be a team – on the same page. That doesn't mean they have to agree all the time. But talk about finances, agree to disagree, form a plan of action, and then, let your children know what's going on, because they're scared, and they are reading you like a book. They hear it, they see it and they feel it. So be aware of those kinds of things. Get yourself de-stressed and focused, because that's going to be the best lead for your child.

Children and Money
Let children know money. Let them know how you work and how you get paid and how the money goes into the bank as a piece of paper and comes out, and how you have to earn that money. Too many times, it's glossed over because it's plastic, or they don't really have access to that. So they need that understanding--age-appropriately, of course.

When Parents Disagree about Finances
If you're harboring feelings that your partner may be spending money, or is not as responsible as you'd like them to be, that stuff has to be worked out. Then you move on to the actual numbers and working things out and being able to spend money together. But you have to be on the same page emotionally, and agree with the way you think about finances and the way you're going to handle it.
Child Care Provider Comments
Eileen Lanza
Eileen Lanza
Mother of two
I’m a realtor, and things have definitely slowed down tremendously with my business, which then affects our family’s financial situation. We were trying to explain to our kids that the economy is bad right now and some people have lost their jobs and do not have money for rent and food. I do not want to stress them out and make it their problem, but they are part of our family and deserve to know the truth. We keep it simple and age-appropriate and try not to dwell on it.

I belong to a group of mothers who rely on each other for support. What we do is have “clothing swap” parties, where everyone brings clothes, shoes, even house wares that we don’t use or wear anymore, and make it like a pot luck party. Everyone leaves with a bag of “new” clothes and we get to socialize inexpensively. It’s fun and feels like we got a whole new wardrobe. Plus, since some of the moms are going through tougher times than others, we’ll pool our money and help buy groceries, or make dinner for the family just to help out. Forming a support group during tough times really helps everyone’s attitude and outlook.
John Lanza
John Lanza
Father of two
We’ve made adjustments to all of our spending, like clothing, food, leisure activities, etc. It’s helped us become more creative with our kids and find ways to focus on what’s important – our family.

I’ve learned that there are simple things I can do to make my financial life better. I give my wife credit for this, because in my twenties, I didn’t pay attention to saving money, and she taught me one of the number one way to save is pay yourself first. Make sure that if you get a check, you first put some money into a savings account.
Parent Comments
Eileen Freiburger
Eileen Freiburger
Certified financial planner & mom of two
Seeking the Help of a Financial Advisor
A fee-only financial advisor can provide objective advice, guidance and “second opinions” on so many things from impending retirement, financial goals such as a home purchase and college funding, unexpected job loss, cash flow issues, investment advice, debt reduction strategies, etc. When should a family turn for help? When the financial questions are keeping them up at night. When they -- on their own -- have found more questions than answers. When they realize they need that extra support and guidance to kick start getting financial issues taken care of. When a large decision is in the future and they want to come that decision through education. Any time is a good time for quality, conflict-free advice and guidance.

In the event of serious debt cases where the creditors are calling, when after rolling up their sleeves to look at their own cash flow and trying to budget didn’t help – people should also consider not for profit counselors as well. Counselors will work to help the debt management through education and guidance. In all situations, a family should do their homework to know the advisor or counselor is creditable.

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Financial Tips To Help Families Cope
Topic: Child Care Management
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