Explaining the Financial Crisis to Kids

Shannon wrote a great post over at BlogHer about talking to kids about the financial crisis.  Which reminds me, I’ve been meaning to ask you what your family is doing to cut back.  ARE you cutting back?

We certainly are.  I choose not to watch the news, personally.  I prefer to subscribe to the philosophy that ignorance is bliss.  My husband, however, sends me emails every day with links to news articles and suggestions for cutting back our household expenses. 

We have reduced our monthly phone bill (the land line) by cutting back on services and using the cell phone more.  I also went with a cheaper cell phone provider when my term was up last spring. 

I’ve been trying to make cheaper meals and shop from the clearance bin in the meat department at my local grocery store.  I plan my meals around what’s on sale.  And I try not to buy unnecessary snacks.  My husband packs his lunch every day, as does my son.  The kids aren’t doing extracurricular activities this year. 

We’re trying to avoid cutting back on our cable TV.  We have talked about cutting out our gym membership as well, but I do use it and with cold weather approaching I know I won’t exercise outside.  I’m having a hard time letting go of either of these guilty pleasures, but as I told my husband yesterday, I’ll give up the gym before I give up cable.  After all, a girl’s gotta have priorities.

I get really anxious about the state of our economy if I think too much about it, so I try to work hard at my design business and shut my mind off to the negativity.  That’s really all I can do, anyway.  Well, that and practice responsible spending habits.

So far my kids haven’t asked about it, but I have explained to them that money is tight and we can’t have a lot of extras right now.  They seem to accept that.

In her BlogHer post, Shannon quotes Melissa Schorr of MSNBC.

“Teach kids that everything in life is cyclical — and that goes for financial markets also,” says Donati.

I think this is key for everyone to remember, especially those of us prone to anxiety.  This too shall pass, and while we need to be cautious and responsible, panicking and worrying about things we cannot control will do no good.

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15 Responses

  1. We were already cutting back before. I had deemed this year the year to go FRUGAL, but I fell off the wagon this summer when I was hugely pregnant and just didn’t feel like trying. So, now I’m back on that wagon and starting to coupon. We had already done most of the other things that you mentioned, so we have to take it a step further now. We are also drastically reducing our eating out and anything extra that requires going somewhere, for gas use reasons obviously.

  2. The financial situation is indeed scary. We were talking to my grandmother (who is 81 and born right before the great depression)about what she thinks about this scary situation and she had some great advise. She said “Why should I worry. I do what I am supposed to do. I don’t overspend, I tithe, I follow the rules that God put in place. Last I checked God is still in control and he tells me not to worry and to remember that ultimatly he is in charge. So, that is what I do”. Boy, she smart!

  3. It’s funny because we’ve been trying to live frugally for the past 6 years or so. We don’t have cable, we don’t have expensive cell phone plans (mine is pre-paid and Hubs has his mainly for work), we don’t have new clothes and our kids don’t get a lot of toys for Christmas and birthdays. And we’ve been fine. I feel like by living the way we are we’re being good stewards with what God has blessed us with and since we don’t have a lot of “extras” we’ve been able to bless and help out some families that are really struggling now.

  4. As of the end of this month, we are getting rid of our land line and our alarm system in our home. We try to take my husband’s less expensive car rather than my SUV to places like church. We have stopped eating our or ordering takeout (we even have started making our own pizza at home). I’ve also started buying store brand items at the food store instead of name brand. We are trying to eat through what’s in our pantry and freezer before buying more. I now buy only necessitites and perishables at the grocery store. We even tried selling our house to move closer to our church and my office but it did not sell and we took it off the market today. Maybe in the spring?

  5. We don’t have a choice about cutting back. We were already trying to smarter with our money, but that has become required not optional with the job situation. Like you, we are hanging onto our cable and gym membership for now. I think I would keep the gym before cable, because exercise relieves stress and I really don’t want my husband to quit working out now that he is in a good routine. We have stopped eating out, which is the hardest thing for me. I REALLY like eating out, and I get tired of planning meals and serving them. I’m working hard on viewing this time as a season of growth for us. I have long said I needed to more fully embrace my vocation as wife and stay-home Mom and this situation is giving me plenty to think about. And lately when our kids ask for things, we just tell them we can’t do it right now because we need to save our money for more important things.

  6. Our biggest change is more meals at home. Less out to eat & if we do go its to a cheap local pizza place where we eat for $15. My hubby drives my more gas efficient car……we are not really buying anything for Christmas this year.

  7. We cut our land line about 3 years ago and just changed our home number to our cell number. We have since added lines for our girls so we can be in touch whenever we need to be. DH has a phone from work.

    The only debt we hold is our house. EVERYTHING else is paid for. We have just begun to use my pay check for spending money. When that is gone, we wait until the next check.

    We do go out to eat once a week – usually weekends. We also work on eating leftovers through the week before I make another large meal or all the leftovers go to waste.

    I usually buy the store brand foods at the store. We try to make our gas last a week if not more. This is very hard for us right now with both girls in different sports. I know my DH has already filled up again this week.

    We are just being more conscious of how much and what we are spending our money on. Our kids have noticed that we are not shopping as much as we have been in the past.

    A lot of our Christmas shopping will come from our Discover card cash back. You can get gift cards deliverd to your door. We have found this a great way to stretch the dollar.

  8. Great post! We’re keeping our heads above water, but barely, so we’ve just starting making changes. We cut HBO and asked DirecTV to help us out with cost — they lowered the bill an additional $10/month for a year.
    Today we’re cutting the land line at home in favor of just using the cells (which are free when we call each other), and also cutting the newspaper service.
    Eating out is becoming a thing of the past, except perhaps special occasions, etc.

    Whatever else will come in time, and we trust in God to provide — as long as we’re smart enough to do our part too, right? 🙂

  9. One thing I have done is alloted a certain amount of money per month for my husband and I that is put into 2 additional bank accounts with their own debit cards. When it’s gone it’s gone. So if I want to buy something cute for the house…I eat a piece of bread for lunch ;). Luckily I wear scrubs to work. So it’s jeans and tees at home. The kids will only be getting toys on holidays, good report cards and with their own money. Not everytime we go to Walmart. And we have been eating at home alot more. and we bought a car and sold the truck.

    I have become my granny…I will probably be canning peaches soon.

    Entertainment is starting to become having company over to play cards and dominoes. Good Times!

  10. Great post. I have a very similiar one in my drafts! We have been cutting back with eating out, fall clothing, groceries, we did cancel the landline and just use cells. I may have to call direct tv and see what they can do like a commenter above. I like the idea of having people over instead of going out. Makes it more relaxing! I agree that we have to stop worrying about things we can’t control. We just have to learn from these mistakes and move on!! Thanks for reminding me of this. I needed to hear it.

  11. Culpeper, you have a wise, wise woman of God for a grandmother!

    We have been trying to live frugally for a long time, just to be good stewards. I have been shopping clearance, yard sales and thrift stores for years and years now. Fortunately, it’s a lot of fun for me. I have found many new or nearly new things for pennies – clothes, books, toys, dishes, DVDs, furniture even cosmetics (unused, ofcourse!) I take my son’s outgrown items and consign them, allowing me to buy things appropriate to him. I’ve gotten tons of things from craigslist, too, things that are my style that I can’t even find in the stores around here.

  12. We used to eat out every week, now it is more like every two weeks. I’ve found that we have just as much fun if we eat in and then make it a treat to go out for ice cream…..way cheaper, but just as fun.

    Oh, and our once fat 401K is not so much. So I just choose not to pull up our account, LOL!

    I am not working now, but at the drop of a hat I can go back to working more. I feel for women who have taken themselves out of the workplace and have no way to help support the family.

  13. we have been trying to be more frugal as well. We were having an issue with takeout – up to three times a week (including maybe a lunch on the weekend) and we’ve cut that back to MAYBE one time every other week. I hate planning meals, I’m horrible at that. But I’ve been trying really hard to use what we have and only buy what we need. Also I was pretty bad about getting the boys little things here and there “just because” and we’ve had to cut that back as well.

    Today I bought my six year old a present for his birthday he’s been wanting from our local independant bookstore by trading in a BIG stack of books I don’t read anymore – it was a $40 gift that I ended up only paying $5 for, which I was very happy about.

    We’re thinking of cutting our land line as well but I’m holding out on the directv – with the baby we haven’t been able to go out much for movies and I really like to have that.

  14. We have been cutting back over the past few months, and have found that can get by on the minimal amount of money, and pay off bills which are more inportant. It has helped that my kids have always been very aware that we are not made of money, and that things are not getting better right now all over the place.

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