With the rising costs of staples like bread and butter, plus fuel, many families are having to shop around for their daily basics or go without.
Parents don’t want to worry their children about the family finances, but there is no denying that our children are picking up on the fact that something is going on – they’re good like that!
So, what can we do to make sure that our children are not filled with worry, but have some understanding of why they may have to find new things to watch on TV, or an ice cream from the van is being reduced to once a month?
It can be a bit confusing for younger children and they may not like hearing ‘no’ more often when they ask to buy something but going through this cost of living crisis is as good a time as any to start teaching our kids about the importance of saving money and spending responsibly.
Play is how young children learn best, so role playing shops, banks etc is a great way of introducing the concept of money.
When shopping, ask the kids to look for the cheapest item on a shelf – so which has the biggest or smallest numbers.
Making sure that you are not a ‘yes’ parent will help with them understanding the ‘no’ too. So, make sure that your child isn’t used to getting everything they want all the time.
Explaining why Netflix is no more, a simple explanation that you can no longer afford it will suffice, and make sure that they know there are other channels that they can watch instead. Often when we take out these subscriptions, we primarily use them, but kids’ programmes are available for free on iPlayer, ITV HUB, YouTube etc, and often the same as what they will have been watching and I think most children will be ok with that. It could also be a good excuse for reducing screen time!
Introducing pocket money from as young as six-years, as little as £1 a week, can hand over some of the responsibility of buying things to the kids. It’s a great way for them to learn about making right choices. You can be in charge of what the money is spent on – not on sweets for instance, but it is a useful to let your child make decisions, so that they learn if they are making good or bad decisions with their money.
Including them in the weekly shop can also help them learn about budgeting. Teaching our kids about budgets is important out of a cost of living crisis anyhow, but encouraging them to go and find the items on your list, within a certain budget can be a fun way of instilling good habits.
Helping kids to understand the value of things and when something is just too expensive, is also an important lesson, showing them the alternatives instead.
And it doesn’t harm to have a discussion about things that we need versus things that we want and how the things we need are most important.
Talk with your teens about the what the cost of living crisis means, by all means, but don’t go hard on the economic detail. Make the changes clear: you’ve cancelled a subscription, or there won’t be a Saturday night Takeaway every week now. You could also stress the importance of switching the lights off etc to help keep energy bills low.
You can ask how they feel about any changes and remind them that everything will be ok, it’s just some changes are needed, and let them know they can ask you any questions they might have.