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How to talk about financial woes in your family

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Many of the articles on our site try to help you plan your finances better. How much to save and how to budget. Where to invest and the best banks and credit options for your needs. However, in today’s climate, we need to talk about the other side of finance. What to do when you don’t have a lot of money. The world is going through a period of economic uncertainty right now and may have left you without a job, with less money, and with no clear picture on when normality will return. This can be tough on you and your family. The first step is to talk about it. That alone can be tricky as if you were used to being the provider in your family it can be embarrassing to now have to say to your family, we don’t have as much income anymore. Let’s chat through your options and how best to approach the topic.

With your partner

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It is important that you trust your partner and don’t try to hide the bad news from him or her for too long. If you are the provider for the family it does not mean that the burden is your alone. Your partner should not be mad at you for losing your job or facing reduced hours (depending on the reason) but they can be mad at you for hiding the truth from them for too long. Trust your partner and sit down with them and talk about finance.

This news may come as a shock to them so allow them to have whatever feelings they need to. Give them time to digest this news as it may be a complete shock. Once they are over the initial shock, start to talk about what it means for the family budget. It may mean that you simply need to cut back on discretionary spending or if you are in real trouble it may mean selling a house or asking a family member for a loan. Don’t sugarcoat this issue but try to present real solutions about how to get through this phase.

With your children

If you have very young children you don’t need to explain what is going on with finances. It is likely they won’t even notice. However, when kids reach a certain age they can tell when something is wrong, even if they don’t understand exactly what is wrong. At this stage of life, children haven’t developed a sense of empathy and so usually perceive the world about them. If something is wrong they think they are to blame. For those children, you need to explain that money is a little tight and that you will be able to buy less for a little while, but reassure them that all the things they need will be there. Show them as well that it is an issue you have fully in control and it is not for them to worry about. With older teenagers, you should sit them down and explain in full what is happening. They may even be able to get a part-time job to help if they know the full story.

With yourself

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Whether you lost a job because of the pandemic or because you were terrible at it, does not impact your worth. We all go through these moments in our life and you are simply going through one now. Find a new job that matches your skillset and you will be a success. Work hard at doing well for you and your family and in the end, everything will work out. Look after your mental health and don’t blame yourself for the ups and downs that are all part of a normal life.

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