Financial worries can become stressful and overwhelming for many families. It’s difficult to maintain a sense of personal well-being when news about the economy seems to go up and down. Financial worries can severely strain a marriage, and children can be negatively affected. Here are some tips for families as they cope with financial stress.
Educate yourself about your financial situation.
As a couple, sit down together and look at the details of your situation. If it’s too difficult to do this alone, have a financial professional or trusted friend look at the numbers with you. Educating yourselves is the first step towards assessing the problem and looking for solutions.
Focus on what you can control, not on what you can’t.
Focusing on what you can’t control leaves families feeling helpless. It’s healthier to focus on what you can do. Can you save more or spend less? Can you balance your budget by making small changes in your spending or saving habits?
Communicate to your children in age-appropriate ways.
Children are often very sensitive to sudden financial stress, such as a parent losing a job. When you talk to your children, be both straightforward and reassuring. Try to strike a balance between giving age-appropriate information but not overwhelming your children with unnecessary details.
Work together as a family on a financial plan.
When financial worries become overwhelming, family relationships can be affected by the strain. Work with each other to make a financial plan. Young children can help clip and organize coupons. Older children can organize a garage sale or save spare change that can be used as the family’s “fun money.”
Take joy in life’s simple things.
Make sure that you don’t focus on money matters to the exclusion of life’s pleasures. Spend time with family and friends and enjoy activities that don’t cost anything — reading books from the library, going to the park, visiting museums on free admission days, etc.
Consider those less fortunate than you.
Counting your blessings is one of the best ways to reduce stress and worry. Spend time volunteering for those less fortunate, and you will probably feel better about your own situation. Your family can spend a couple of hours volunteering at a homeless shelter, nursing home, or hospital.
Take care of your physical and emotional health.
Make sure your family is getting enough sleep, eating right, and exercising. If you notice that you or a family member worries constantly, is irritable, not sleeping well, withdrawn from friends of family, or using drugs or alcohol, it’s time to seek professional help.