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How to Navigate Financial Hardship for Kids

Money can be tough sometimes. Here’s how to battle through the hard times.


Sometimes, things happen, and parents find themselves in a difficult financial situation. Maybe they lost their job, business is slow, or they had unexpected bills to pay.

Adults call this financial hardship – and it’s hard. 

When money’s tight, everyone in the family worries. Grown-ups get stressed about paying the bills. Kids feel frustrated about not being able to buy new toys. You might also feel confused or unsure about what will happen next.

If you and your family are going through a hard time, remember that this happens to many people. But no matter what, there is still a lot to be happy about! 

If it doesn’t seem that way right now, it’s OK. That’s why we wrote this article, to help you feel better. We’ll also give you some ideas on ways to help your parents and books to help you get through this, while things will turn around for you and your family. 

The Power of Talking

If your parents sat you down and explained that there’s less money coming in every month, you probably felt sad. If you overheard a conversation between your parents, you might be really scared. And, on top of all these big feelings, you probably also have a lot of questions.

When you’re worried about what will happen to your family,  talking to your parents helps. Asking them questions is important. And listening is also good. 

Basically, communication makes big problems seem smaller and easier to deal with. Here are a few ways you can give it a try!

Make a List of the Things You’re Worried About

Ever felt like there’s a big monster in your room at night? That’s scary. But what happens when you turn the lights on and realize it was just your toy’s shadow? The fear goes away, right? 

The same thing happens when you list out your fears and say them aloud. Sharing your worries with your parents makes you realize that things aren’t as bad as they seem. And together, you can come up with ideas on how to make things better.

Give Your Feelings a Name

If something is overwhelming, it helps to figure out what you’re feeling. Once you know how you feel, you can do something to change those emotions. It might not solve the problem itself, but it’ll help you breathe a little more easily. 

Some of the feelings you may have about your family’s financial situation include:

  • Sadness
  • Loneliness
  • Embarrassment
  • Disappointment
  • Fear

The list could go on and on – and you probably feel several of these at the same time. That’s OK. The important thing is to figure out what’s going on inside and share it with an adult that you trust to work on feeling better.

Ask Questions

When you realize that things are different, it’s normal to wonder what will happen next. Asking questions can help you get reassurance and know what to expect. The type of questions you may have could be: 

  • Will we have to move?
  • Am I going to a new school?
  • What should I tell my friends?
  • Can I still have a birthday party?
  • Are we going to be OK?

Remember that sometimes, your parents won’t have the answer right away. If you’re more comfortable, you can also talk to your school counselor, teacher, or a family friend. Other adults in your life can listen and offer support.

Ways You Can Help

Even as a kid, there’s a lot you can do to help when your family is short on cash! Taking action is great because it makes you feel good and can help your family save money. Here are a few ideas:

  • Turn off the lights when you leave the house
  • If you only wear a shirt for a few minutes, hang it up again instead of throwing it in the laundry basket
  • Use both sides of your paper to avoid wasting food supplies
  • Save your leftovers to eat as a snack later
  • Ride your bike or walk to save on gas
  • Give hand-made gifts instead of store-bought presents

Ways You Can Feel Better

Financial worries can cause the whole family to feel stressed. But there are many fun ways to feel better, and they don’t cost any money! Give these a try and see how much better you and your family can feel:

  • Go to the park to play sports as a family
  • Take walks around the neighborhood when you’re bored
  • Clean up after yourself at home to create less work for the adults
  • Keep an open mind about trying new recipes
  • Stay positive and be kind to your siblings
  • Make a list of the things that you love about your life and share them with your family
  • Play board games together or do a big jigsaw puzzle
  • Find free family activities to do together
  • Look up free kids classes in your area and ask your parents to sign you up
  • Say “I love you” – and “please,” and “thank you”

Books to Help You Get Through Financial Hardship

Reading is a great way to deal with your feelings, give yourself a little break from your thoughts, or get ideas on how to make things better. Here are our favorite kids’ books to help you understand financial hardship and find comfort. So, next time you’re at your local library, see if you can check them out!

For Kids 6-8

There are lots of great things all around you. But, when things get tough, it’s difficult to see them. Something Beautiful is the story of a girl looking for beauty in her neighborhood. In the process, she realizes that the things that make her happy are inside of her.

Real friends don’t judge. Instead, they find ways to help. That’s exactly what Sofia does when she realizes that her friend’s family is struggling in Maddi’s Fridge. If you’re feeling embarrassed or worried about what your friends will think, this book is a great read.

For Kids 9-12

The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky is the story of a girl who lives with her grandpa. Her home is not as beautiful as her friends’ houses. This makes her feel upset and inspires her to turn her home into a work of art!

When money is tight, things can change a lot for your family. That’s exactly what happens to The Exceptional Maggie Chowder – and she is not happy about it. But she tries to stay strong and, with the help of her family and friends, things eventually start looking up.

Facing Financial Hardship as a Family

When things get tough, family is there for each other. That’s the most important thing for you to remember! By staying supportive, positive, and patient, you and your family will get through the challenges. So keep your chin up because things will get better!

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About the Author

Lucia Caldera

Lucia Caldera is a writer who specializes in personal finance. Her goal is to create approachable content that sparks financial wellness and unlocks personal growth. Lucia's work reflects her passion for financial education as the key to reducing the wealth gap for future generations.

Last updated on: July 8, 2024