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Money Stress
If the adults in your life are having a tough time paying bills, that can cause a lot of tension in the house. Many kids are wondering how they can help reduce their family's money stress.
   
Advice Topics:

Advice Questions about Money Stress:

  • GOI really want to help homeless starving people, but the problem is I don't know how. Should I get a job? I need help!

  • GOI'm going to turn 10 soon. My parents are on a budget. There are 5 people I would like to invite to celebrate with me. Do you have any ideas for what I could do? Thanks!

  • GOMy dad might get fired from his job because of the money problem society is having. His work already fired almost 100 people. I'm really worried, because if he does get fired our family will have to live off a very small amount of money, actually about a quarter of how much we're living off of right now. What should I do?

  • GOI am sort of a new girl in the school (well, not new, but I've only been there for 1 year). One of my best friends often asks me and other friends to go somewhere to hang out or play. I don't want to miss the chance to socialize with them or make new friends. But my family is not rich, so I cannot afford much money to buy stuff and tickets. I am afraid that if I reject her too much, our relationship will not be as good. I'm not saying that I am going to reject her every time I have to spend money, but what should I do?

  • GOSometimes there are times when I NEED money for something, but I have no way to get it. I have a source of income (my parents pay me to mow the lawn), but that's only $3.50 an hour and I can't mow all the time! I need an alternative source of income and the traditional wash the car, take care of pets, or babysit jobs won't work because I live on a rural country road. Any ideas will be appreciated.

  • GOBoth my parents work. My mom is fine with her job; she is a preschool teacher. But my dad has been bouncing around. We are also having money problems. He started off with cars then into computers then worked at a gas station. And all those didn't work out. Then he opened up a restaurant but after a while he had to sell it to pay off our debts. His friend owns a restaurant and he asked my dad if he wanted to help him run it and my dad took the job. We still have money problems. So I just wanted to know, how can I cope with this? Because it is affecting me and my school work.

  • GOOkay, I love animals and it makes me sad knowing so many are facing extinction. I want to raise $2,000 to give to wildlife foundations, to help them. One problem, I don't know how to earn any money! I have talked to my mom and friends, they had no ideas. I would maybe babysit but there are like, no little kids in our neighborhood and putting up flyers isn't safe, according to my mom. Do you have any ideas that will bring in a lot of money and how to get started? Or, do you know how I can get babysitting jobs? I want to help those animals, but I have no ideas at all!

  • GOI'm old enough to babysit now, and I love to do it. But once I was babysitting two girls at once, and had to give the younger one most of my attention. But the older girl started to get totally out of control! She stole my diary, then ran away! I had to go chase her down and bring her back to my house. Now her parents want me to babysit her again, but I really don't want to. What do I do?

  • GOMy Dad lost his job last summer but he has a part time job. Money is very tight at my house and I need a lot more things than I used to. I don't know what to do. I need help!!!

  • GOI am very poor and love Britney Spears, but my mom can't afford to get those kind of things for me. Please help me or tell me what to do. I hate when me and my mom go to the mall when she gets a little money. She sees things she wants and can't get them, and most of our money goes to bills so we have like 20 dollars every 2 weeks.

  • GOIn my home I have to do some chores, but I don't get allowance. So to get some money of my own I decided to take a babysitting course, so maybe I can babysit. But it's been almost 4 months now and no luck on getting a job. I tried almost everything, from telling a friend to putting ads. Do you have any ideas?

  • GOI get an allowance, but it's not that big: $10. I know I should be grateful that I even get an allowance, but most of my friends, even younger ones, get like $20. We're not poor. I was wondering how I could bring this up with my mom and dad. Can you help?

  • GOSince my mom and dad are divorced and I live with my mom alone, she has to deal with buying things and working for the things she and I need. In my home, I do chores without getting an allowance. I want to discuss this with my mom, but I feel guilty for asking her when she has all these other things to worry about. What should I do???

  • GO"Money is very tight within my family, yet I know it is neither of my family members' fault because the economy is very unstable where I live. To make some money, I was thinking about taking care of pets while their owners are away, but I have rivals in the business (oh, the miniature economy that is kids!). What should I do?"

  • GOLeah and Jeff wrote in to ask what they should do about family money problems.


Dear IML,
I get an allowance, but it's not that big: $10. I know I should be grateful that I even get an allowance, but most of my friends, even younger ones, get like $20. We're not poor. I was wondering how I could bring this up with my mom and dad. Can you help?
--Naomi, 12

The IML Mentors respond:

Hey Naomi!
I think it is very cool that you want to make some more money. Now, how could you do that? Ive never received an allowance, it was just expected that I do all my chores. But we did have a system where we earned points by doing jobs around the house, like washing the car, pruning the bushes, or big projects such as painting the fence or cleaning the garage. (Whoever had the most points would get a reward!) Perhaps you could talk to your parents about a system like this, or pay you for extra work you do. Before you bring this up to them, take a look inside and outside the house and figure out what you could do. Show your parents what youre willing to take on, so they can see how responsible you are. Remember, though, that an allowance isnt the only way to earn money, especially during the summer! You could start your own business doing things like: babysitting, petsitting, lawn care, pool care, dance lessons, car washes, bike washes, and a billion other things. Use your talents and be creative!
--Vanessa, IML Mentor

Hey Naomi!
Allowance is something you earn, not just money your parents give to youso its up to you to prove that your work is worth their money. Think of all the responsibilities and chores you have right now. Do you think you should be getting paid more for what you do? If you already have a ton of work to do and think ten dollars isn't enough, talk to your parents about why you think you should be earning more. An easier way to increase your allowance is to take on more chores. For instance: take care of your pets without your parents having to ask; do the dishes; rake the yard; pull weeds; wash your parents' cars; dust the housethe possibilities are endless. If your parents see that you made the effort and tried extra-hard, they might give you extra money! You also could try doing work around your neighborhood. Ask your parents for permission and ideas first, then make a list of jobs you can do and give it to your neighbors. Start by charging per hour, create a name for your business (Naomi's Neighborhood Help?) and print out all the information on a fun flyer. The wages you'll earn doing odd jobs may not seem like a lot, but it adds up fast and people living near you will be grateful for the help.
--Lauren, IML Mentor

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Dear IML,
Since my mom and dad are divorced and I live with my mom alone, she has to deal with buying things and working for the things she and I need. In my home, I do chores without getting an allowance. I want to discuss this with my mom, but I feel guilty for asking her when she has all these other things to worry about. What should I do???
--Rhea, 11

The IML Mentors respond:

Dear Rhea,
You should go ahead and bring this up with her! When I was younger, I spent a lot of time not expressing my needs because I felt guilty and was worried about my mother, but then I realized that what I need is important, too. You might start by telling your mom that you care about her, and that you have been worried about talking to her, but that getting an allowance is something very important to you. Tell her why it's important, too. The two of you will hopefully be able to come to an agreement -- for instance, you'll do this much work for this much money -- and both of you can feel happy with the exchange. Then, every once in a while, show her you care about her and not about the money, and pitch in a bit for free. Let there be a balance where you're both happy, because you're BOTH important.
-Elizabeth, IML Mentor

Dear Rhea,
It can be tough to bring up things such as allowances with parents. I think the best thing to do is tell your mom you have something you need to talk about with her, and set up a time and day where you can both sit down for a discussion. Make sure you pick a time where there are the least distractions so you can both get a chance to talk and be heard. Start off by telling her that you know she has a lot of things to worry about and that you don't want to stress her out more, but that you wanted to discuss the possibility of an allowance. Maybe if you make a list of things that you need your allowance for (going to the movies, buying new clothes, CD's, etc.), shell understand why you need the money. Then, ask her if she would be willing to let you EARN the money by doing chores. If you talk to her in a calm and straightforward way, its very likely that your mom will be receptive to the idea. Good luck!
--Cyntianna, IML Mentor

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Dear IML,
Money is very tight within my family, yet I know it is neither of my family members' fault because the economy is very unstable where I live. To make some money, I was thinking about taking care of pets while their owners are away, but I have rivals in the business (oh, the miniature economy that is kids!). What should I do?
--Lindsay, 10

An expert responds:
From Faye Terrebonne Arco, M.Ed., Drug Prevention School Safety Specialist, PPS - School Counseling

Hi Lindsay,
You're a very understanding person to realize that your parents are doing their best and that it's not anybody's fault. Many young people might be angry or resentful. You have already taken a big step in being able to help out. Even though your pet-care idea has competition, there's never a shortage of pet owners who need this service. To set yourself apart, you might offer other services such as: taking caring of plants, picking up newspapers and mail, or turning on lights. Don't forget advertising! You could make a brightly colored flyer with a list of all of your services and deliver it to potential customers. You might ask your parents to check over the flyer and help you create a safe list of possible clients.
Good luck, Lindsay!

The IML Mentors respond:

Hi Lindsay,
It's very mature that you want make your own money. If you want to help take care of pets and there are many rivals, a good idea would be to charge less than all of the other kids in the business. Other ideas may be to water people's plants, wash cars, baby-sit (if your parents say it is okay), and sell lemonade. Or, ask your parents if you can have a garage sale and sell some things that neither you nor your family still need. Good luck!
--Danielle, IML Mentor

Dear Lindsay,
I remember growing up during difficult times. At the time, my parents were divorced and money was really tight. I used to take side jobs such as cleaning a neighbor's driveway or porch. I also used to pack bags at the local grocery mart. Don't hesitate to ask neighbors if you can help out with chores around the house; however, don't forget to ask your parents for permission before doing this.
--Dexter, IML Mentor

Dear Lindsay,
It's really great that you are so understanding about your family's situation. Consider asking your parents for ideas to make some money. Maybe you can bake things like cookies or brownies, or make jewelry and sell those kinds of things at school. I hope it works out for you.
--Jenna, IML Mentor

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Dear IML,
My mom and dad are separated and sometimes I feel like it is my fault! My mom isn't getting any money from him. We are having a hard time paying for things. What should I do?
--Leah, 12

Dear IML,
Should I get a job and help out with the bills? My parents are stressed out about money.
--Jeff, 11

The IML Mentors respond:

Dear Leah & Jeff,
First of all, Leah, it's never a child's fault that parents are separating or getting a divorce. Next, regarding money, both of your parents are responsible for the money issue, so let them take care of it and let yourself be the kid. That said, there are some things you can do. While you should always, always, always ask for what you need, you could try to be considerate and not ask for things that you know you don't have to have, things that you just want. Also, let your parents know you're available to help. Maybe if they currently give you an allowance, you could have them stop for a while and instead try doing some neighborhood jobs for money. Or, you could just take an allowance cut. Try to be kind and helpful, but let your parents worry about getting the money for your family.
--Elizabeth, IML Mentor

Dear Leah and Jeff,
It's wonderful that you both want to help support your families during such a stressful time. As much as you want to help your parents by getting a job, at your ages it might be kind of difficult to find one. Eleven and twelve-year-olds are not expected to work for money, so please don't feel bad if you cannot provide money for your family. The best thing you can do is be careful with how much money you spend on things that may not be necessary. For example, if you buy clothes a lot, try cutting back and/or buying cheaper kinds. You both must realize that your folks' financial problems have absolutely nothing to do with you. These kinds of things are never a child's fault. It sounds like the issue is really making you worry. Maybe you can try talking to your parents about it. It could help to talk to your mom, dad, or both of your parents. To start the conversation, perhaps you can mention that you're thinking of getting a job. Hopefully, this may lead to a conversation about how you're feeling. It''s important for your parents to know what's going on in your head, so try to make sure they do. Good luck, you two!
--Jenna, IML Mentor

Dear Leah & Jeff,
If getting a job to help with money issues is something you want to do, go for it. It's not your fault that your family is having financial problems, but helping out shows good character. If you can't find a steady job then please try not to get mad at yourself. Maybe you can find other ways of helping. For one, try to only ask for the things you really need. Second, you can always ask neighbors (with a group of friends) if they need their grass cut, their dog walked, or help taking grocery bags (while at the store) to their car. Simple tasks can help others greatly.
--Tiffany, IML Mentor

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