18 answers

Explaining Financial Hardship to Kids

Hi Mamas,
Money is very tight for us these days. It seems expenses are popping up left and right. I just received an e-mail from my daughter's girl scout troop leader that they have made the reservations for the troop's stay at a horse farm/camp for two nights in September. They prefer all of the moms come along, and I agree with that. I wouldn't want my daughter going without me and she wouldn't want to stay somewhere overnight without me. However, it would cost almost $300.00 for both of us to go and we just don't have the money right now. I know my daughter is going to be devastated when she finds out we're not going. I have tried to teach her the value of money and explain that we can't just buy anything we want, but she still seems to think money grows on trees or that a credit card can be whipped out when you don't have the cash. Well, our credit cards are maxed out and the cash just isn't there for anything that's not an absolute necessity right now. What would be the best way to explain it to her? It's just really hard when these situations come up because she attends a Catholic school and most of the kids don't have to think about financial hardship. She will likely be the only one from the troop not going. Thanks in advance for your advice!

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So What Happened?™

Thanks to all for your advice. I would like to address those of you who think my husband and I have been reckless with money. We absolutely have not been. We used our credit cards to cover necessities when my husband's paycheck wasn't enough, and we've used it for emergencies like car repairs, home repairs. We have not just run out and purchased stuff we don't need. Over time, this has added up and we are now in debt. We chose for me to stay home with the kids instead of putting them in daycare. We knew it would be financially challenging, but that is the choice we made. Besides, most of my paycheck would go toward childcare for three kids. We send our kids to a Catholic school because we live in a terrible school district and want better for our kids. Therefore we don't go on vacation, we don't have the latest fashions, we don't have Blackberry's and I don't have a Coach purse. Our kids' education is our priority. I will definitely see if I can find Dave Ramsey's book from the library. I'll take all the tips I can get. And my daughter is 9. She doesn't want to stay overnight without me. Last fall the troop had a camp-out in one of the girls backyards. I wasn't able to go because my baby needed me at night, so my daughter didn't go. Her school goes to a week long camp in 5th grade and she's already said she won't go if I'm not picked to be a chaperone. I know I could try to encourage her, but it would be an awfully long way for me to go to pick her up if she's upset. But maybe I'll give her the option if she's willing to work to earn the money for herself to go.

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In this case, I would have her brainstorm some fund raising ideas. You can sometimes teach financial reality better by having them get involved in the process than just telling them NO. Girl Scouts have a lot of fundraisers and people like to give to Girl Scouts. I bet there will be a way for her to earn the money. It would be a shame for the 2 of you not to go. I would just tell her, Dad and I have gone through the budget and there we just don't have it, what are some ways you can think of to earn the money? Maybe call the troop leader and see if they have any funds available for this? I've been told that's where the cookie money goes. toward financing stuff like this.

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I don't know how far Streamwood Il. is from St Louis, or even if you can get a slot anymore. Busch stadium lets groups staff a fair amount of their concession stands. My son't boy scout troop used to do this because camping is expensive. What his troop did was 50% of what was earned was troop money, the other 50% was divided by how many people worked. So if two of us worked for my son then two portions went to him for his account. Then when they went camping it first came out of those funds. Those that didn't want to work paid all out of pocket.

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I agree with Tracy K--depending on how old your daughter is, I guess, she could easily earn $300 by September with your help. Watering gardens, dog walking, cat sitting, selling things on eBay, mother's helper. I've made that much in a week just selling random, unneeded things from around the house on eBay.

Better that you show your daughter that you can be resourceful and see abundance amidst money troubles, than to explain to her how to accept a sense of lack.

4 moms found this helpful

In this case, I would have her brainstorm some fund raising ideas. You can sometimes teach financial reality better by having them get involved in the process than just telling them NO. Girl Scouts have a lot of fundraisers and people like to give to Girl Scouts. I bet there will be a way for her to earn the money. It would be a shame for the 2 of you not to go. I would just tell her, Dad and I have gone through the budget and there we just don't have it, what are some ways you can think of to earn the money? Maybe call the troop leader and see if they have any funds available for this? I've been told that's where the cookie money goes. toward financing stuff like this.

3 moms found this helpful

I went to Catholic schools K-12. Until I was in probably 7th or 8th grade, we had little to no money to spend on things for fun. My brothers and I were each allowed to have ONE extracurricular activity (the entire year) that cost money. I played softball. One fee, up front, for the whole season. I really don't remember my parents saying much about it. It was just a matter of fact, "We can't afford ..." and the blank would be filled in with whatever we were wanting. My mom would also say, "You don't NEED it." And yes, there were times I was disappointed, but I think I have a better concept of needs vs. wants than I might have had otherwise. But, I do agree that trying to come up with something fun to do that costs little to nothing could be a good idea. You could camp out in the back yard or something like that. If she has friends that aren't in the troop, you could have them over to camp with her or something like that.

3 moms found this helpful

Didn't read all your responses, but I wanted to add : ) In our GS troop if a family cannot afford to attend a function we pay for it/or at least contribute out of the GS fund. Ex... cookie sales/fundraisers. Even if your direct troop doesn't have the money, the main GS office closest to you should be available. I know it's hard to ask, but I would look into it. That's what Girl Scouts are all about! Helping each other when in need. I'm proud to be a fellow Girl Scout and love watching my girls do the same! Good luck! I hope it works out for you.

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All of our expensive girl scout trips are paid by using earned cookie money... all of it. Our troop leader gives us a plan for all the activities (..and believe me, there are A LOT- I have yet to know another troop that does HALF of what we do), and says how many cookies need to be sold in order to do all those things... and we also have certain causes we donate to she has up there, and she says how many cookies we need to sell in order to do that. We ALWAYS reach our quota (there are 16 girls... the quota was 208 boxes, believe it or not... and we all made it). That gave us a lot of money to donate and spend on camping trips, and other adventures (we spent the night in a light house once!).

So, I'd have to say that the above idea I mentioned should be addressed with the troop leader, also there is a program that sponsors other girl scouts that can't afford to be in girl scouts... we call it SHARE. we donate to SHARE. I don't think it assists girls that go on trips, but it does help with troop enrollment fees. That could help.

Also, we have no extra money really at all. We live paycheck to pay check, basically... I don't suggest credit cards. It makes it temporarily "okay" to live outside of your means. I cancelled all of our cards years ago. I suggest you do the same. Now, for convenience I only use a check-card.

Not going on that trip would really bum her out. Is there a grandparent you can ask? And maybe you shouldn't go. My daughter has been on plenty of trips with her troop w/o me. I have gone to some, but she does very well without me and most of the girls don't have their mom or dad come. They all do well w/o. My girl just turned 8 a week ago, but she was 6 when she went on her fist no-M. trip.

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I think you need to sit down and read Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover.....financial hardship doesn't happen overnite and your evil relative Murphy always seems to show up and stay for awhile and then only then do you realize just how much trouble you are in ;()( It's like everything else in life you don't realize it's spinning out of control until you hit rock bottom. We started the whole Dave Ramsey thing about a year ago and although we didn't follow everything step by step we did the most important suggestions. Murphy will show and always shows at the worst available times-EMERGENCY FUND. Although I wouldn't consider THIS particular situation an emergency it may have enabled you to save and give your daughter this opportunity. Can you sell some stuff in order to come up with the money? We had no money to put into Dave's university. Heck I didn't even have enough to buy his book! Therefore I went to the library and found his book and my husband and I both read it together. A chapter a night. We have paid off several medical bills and we have our $1000.00 emergency fund set up. You just need to read the book after you read some of the chapters you think to yourself Oh my gosh-why have I been so stupid???!!! Look I don't go to work to just hand it over to a creditor -that's being a slave and I'm tired of that lifestyle. We still have three credit cards to pay off actually 2 because 1 is about to be paid off. Then we have the cars to pay off -Dave actually suggest ridding of those but for us it just didn't make sense to do so-that was "our" situation" though. But believe me if we had yes it would have freed alot more of our money. Seriously check into this and you know what let your daughter in on it too because her behaviors will be formed with how she see's ya'll spending the money. I have already decided before I send my two daughter's off for college that they will be required to attend or at least read Dave's book. Had I known or had the mentality that I have now at the age of 35 when I was younger......well I would most likely be a millionaire-lol!

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i'm thinking that, given this particular situation, I would not mention finances right now but that you have another commitment and try to find something else that she would love even more that doesn't cost much. An overnight at Grandma & Grandpa's? A sleepover with a friend? Going out and painting pottery, whatever! Think of something that would entice her and then tell her sorry that you need to keep this commitment but that maybe she could go next year?

Then, on another time, I would sit down with her and talk with her about money and how you have one bucket of money and another bucket for expenses, as does everyone but that your bucket of expenses and your bucket of money is about equal and so there isn't a lot of "extra" right now and that you all need to be responsible. Have her take part and help you. Let her know that you need her help to do this and she will willing think of ways to help you. It still may not be easy but at least when things come up, she will understand better why you are saying no.

Good luck. Hope this helps.
N.

2 moms found this helpful

Talk to the girl scouts before you talk to your daughter, both your troop and the counsil. There are always scholarships available. Girl scouts is not meant to be an elitist activity. Every girl scout event I've ever been to, even ones only costing $20, had written on the flyer "scholarships available upon request.".

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