by Robin Gurse
Last month, we experienced an economic downturn that experts tell us hasn’t been seen since the Great Depression. While you and I may have little control over these events, there are things we can do to ensure we don’t fall into the “victim” trap of thinking and acting. Doing any one of the following family activities will strengthen the bonds you already have to face your particular financial challenges.
1. Change Your Attitudes, Beliefs, and Assumptions (ABA’s) if They’re Not Working for You
Family Activity: If your ABA’s aren’t working for you, make up some new ones; you made up your current ones. Discover each family member’s ABA’s about money. This may be more challenging for the adults in the family because (1) we often don’t even realize we have ABA’s that affect our behavior, and (2) it’s often difficult to step outside of ourselves and observe our ABA’s. Therefore, often hiring a professional — such as a therapist or a coach — can be helpful in this process. A professional can also help you choose new, healthier ABA’s in all areas of your life, not just financial, so you can set and reach realistic goals that reflect your values and new ABA’s.
2. Keep Track of Your Income and Expenditures for a Week
Family Activity: Once you’re clear about the ratio of your income to expenses, you are in a position to consciously make new choices, if appropriate. You can make this activity into a game, decorating your data sheets with stickers, glitter, using different colors for different categories. Or let the family computer or math wizard set up an Excel file or a Quicken account for each member of the family who spends money. When the week is over, review your choices and see if you like them. If not, brainstorm ways to make new choices.
3. Make it Safe for your Children to Express their Feelings
Family Activity: When you reflect on the financial news of the past few weeks –
How are you (or you and your spouse) acting? Are you fighting over money?
How do you feel and what are you doing with those feelings?
What do you say to your children when they ask questions about the family’s finances or the national news?
You know your children, and how each one has a different temperament. Talk with your spouse/partner NOW about how you want to handle your children’s questions, concerns, fears, and requests for knowledge. You give your children a huge gift by sharing your own feelings, thoughts, and ABA’s about the economy if they do ask you questions or begin to show signs of distress. Decide on your intention: Is it to teach them about money management? To assure them they’re safe? Discuss your values? The more clear you are about your own ABA’s, the better you will serve your children.
From Sarah: Robin is a certified Family Coach committed to helping families work together and sort out differences.