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Oregon Family Magazine

Talking About the Cost of Living Crisis

03/03/2023 ● By Brandy Browne
Despite our best efforts, our children are noticing our complaints about the rising cost of the necessities. In the United States, eggs are ringing up at almost ten dollars per dozen, a far cry from this time last year when eggs were between two and three dollars per dozen. In my house in particular, my husband and I recently did an audit of our finances because we could not figure out how we were going through our income so quickly. Though we noticed a few minor changes we could make, a large portion of the changes came strictly from inflation. We are paying significantly more for the same quantities of necessities (in some cases, you are getting less for more money). 

This proved to be a valuable opportunity to talk to our children about money and being wise spenders. We talked about ways we could conserve, eliminating goods or services that we didn’t really need or use frequently, and ways we could be more self-sufficient. Bringing our children into the conversation helped us to feel empowered, rather than unconsciously and unintentionally stressing out our children.

If you are feeling the strain of the rising cost of living and are worried about how the stress might affect young children, try these tips to keep the conversation moving in a positive direction.

  1. Speak simply. Avoid technical jargon. Rather than trying to have a conversation about interest rates, simply explain that it costs three times more to feed the family this year than last year. Then, brainstorm ways to compensate for that increase. 
  2. Give choices. Maybe you cannot afford the latest electronics, but your child could still take dance lessons. Involving the children in choices about where money should be spent can be a valuable lesson in setting priorities. 
  3. Remind children that even small changes add up. Simply deciding to eat at home a few extra times a week rather than grabbing takeout can save quite a bit of money. Make it fun to try to see how much the family can “save” each week.
  4. Finally, this is the perfect time to cultivate compassion and empathy with children. Remind your children that families may be struggling right now and that it is important to show compassion if a friend says they cannot afford to do something. Encourage children to look for fun ways to enjoy time with friends and loved ones that are free or nearly free.

For further reading on having financial discussions with children, check out the following resources:

Money Helper, How to Talk to Kids About the Cost of Living

Independent, How to Talk to Kids About the Cost of Living Crisis

YoungMind, Parents’ Tips on Supporting Children’s Wellbeing in the Cost of Living Crisis