Meeting your child’s financial needs during an economic boom isn’t easy. Doing it during a recession can be downright scary and stressful.
What can you do if money is tight and you can’t afford everything your child wants? Plan ahead. Here’s how.
From grocery shopping to family entertainment, it seems as though expenses are getting tougher to control. Here are a few ways to beat back the recession:
Create a budget. Use a family budget to identify which bills must be paid and how much money remains for special expenses for the kids. There are agencies and businesses in your community that offer low-cost or free financial counseling if you need help writing a budget. You can also find free templates for home budgets on the Internet. When you examine your budget, make your tough choices before making promises to your kids for special expenses.
Offer choices. Give your child choices. Perhaps in the old economy you were able to give your child more activities, toys, and entertainment. In this economy, you can talk with your child about what he or she really wants the most. Sit down with your school-age child and write a list each week of extra expenses (i.e. a seasonal fee for Little League or an admission ticket to the school dance). The discussion with your child can result in ranking things by importance. When you look at your budget, you can circle the ones each week that will fit into family budget constraints.
Start saving. Saving even a few dollars a month can make a big difference and prepare you for unexpected expenses. Save ahead of time for upcoming events such as birthdays and holidays. For smaller costs, put spare change in a piggy bank for each child.
Shop with a list. This basic tip can save you hundreds of dollars each month. Without a shopping list, it’s easy to come home from the grocery store with extra junk food, magazines, and even DVDs and toys. If you go shopping with a child, share your list and cross items off together.
Use coupons. It used to be that coupons required searching and clipping through newspapers. Not any more! Coupons have gone electronic. Search websites such as coupon.com and groupon.com for great discounts. There are also smartphone apps that deliver coupons right to your phone.
Take time to teach. Sit down with your child on a weekend morning and clip coupons. Not only will you save money, but you’ll get to spend quality time with your child. At the grocery store, show your child exactly how much money you saved.
By modeling good spending, saving, budgeting, and leisure habits, you can still afford some activities and special expenses for your child during the recession. Remember, the time you spend with your child is the most valuable. Teach your child that the recession is an opportunity to build important financial skills for life.