How to Talk to Kids About Money During the COVID-19 Pandemic
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect people around the world, staying healthy is everyone’s top concern. But following closely behind that are concerns about money and finances. Record numbers of Americans are filing for unemployment, and those who remain fully employed are tightening their belts. The financial strain being placed on parents can make kids feel even more confused and uneasy during this uncertain time. Here’s how to talk to kids about money during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keep it Honest & Age-Appropriate
The way you talk to a preschooler will be different than how you talk to a high-schooler, but kids of all ages respond to open, honest communication. Explain what’s happening in the world and how it is affecting your family. Talk about how lots of families are struggling, but that everyone is doing the best they can to work through it.
Give Kids a Chance to Help
One of the most unsettling aspects of the pandemic is not knowing how long it will go on and what life will look like in the weeks and months ahead. But child development and mental health experts agree: one of the best ways to manage that uncertainty is focusing on what’s within our control.
When it comes to family finances, give kids a chance to help with things they can control. Talk about the importance of being careful with the family’s resources. Challenge them to use less water and electricity. Have them help plan frugal, yet tasty, meals. Spend some time brainstorming silly, creative ways to save money. They’ll probably come up with ideas you’ve never considered.
Explain Budgeting Basics
No matter your current financial situation, planning and sticking to a budget will help you manage your money effectively during the pandemic. Explain to kids how a budget is a road map to help you understand how much money is coming in, how much is going out and where it’s going. They’ll enjoy this quick video that covers budgeting basics. (And it’s a good refresher for you, too).
Focus on Immediate Needs
Financially difficult times make it essential to highlight the differences between wants and needs. A back-to-basics approach can help you make the most of every dollar. Ask kids what they think the difference between wants and needs is — have older kids create lists and compare what they say with the reality of the situation. Be sure to discuss subtle nuances. For example, clothing and shoes are needs, but designer labels and the latest sneaker release are wants.
Create Positive Habits
The way your kids see you handling financial matters now can help lay the foundation for a lifetime of positive money habits. Talk about the importance of making do with what you have before buying something new, avoiding wasting food and other resources — and if your current circumstances allow it — let them see you helping those in need with monetary donations.