Things are hard at the moment. We are all going through some tough times. The economy is shaky and a lot of people are losing their jobs. It’s stressful for your parents and for other families that are affected. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to cut back, use the opportunity to learn some valuable lessons. Here’s how…
Downgrading: How to deal!
You may feel a little embarrassed if your family falls on hard times, but trust us, you’re not alone. If one of your parents has lost their job, and your family previously relied on two incomes, then things can pretty much change overnight. You may find that your parents are highly stressed and that they might be fighting a lot. It’s a difficult situation, and a nagging teen who wants Nike takkies instead of Pep specials, isn’t going to help.
You need to take a long, hard look at what really matters in your life. Without a doubt, the most important thing is that you and your family have your health, and each other to lean on. Just as you would expect your parents to be there for you when you’re having a hard time, you should be willing to do the same for them.
If one of your friends is in this situation, be supportive. It’s not easy for anyone. You never know – you could be next. You may be bummed that she can’t come to movies all the time or that she’s moved out of your neighbourhood, but reach out to her, and find ways to include her without hurting her pride. Never flaunt your new sunglasses or whatever else in front of her if you know that she can’t have any. That’s plain rude and insensitive.
How can you help?
If you want to help cut back costs, but can’t get a part-time job because you’re too young, then try these money-saving tips:
- Save petrol. Don’t organise to visit friends who live miles away on weekends – rather go home with them after school on a Friday and sleep over. That way your parents only have to make one trip.
- If it’s safe to do so, walk or ride a bike to school.
- Ask for less and do more without being asked. Don’t ask for expensive things, and do chores to help out of your own free will. Your parents probably feel bad about the situation and you being mature about it will really help their stress levels.
- Save electricity and water, and recycle.
- Pack yourself (and other family members) lunch for school or work.
- Help around the house and in the garden so you don’t need a full-time maid or gardener. It’s good exercise!
- Decide on what you need vs. what you want. Make a list of things you need (e.g. text books) and what you want (e.g. the latest Twilight DVD Box set). Now be realistic or find ways to work around it. For example, buy textbooks from the second hand shop and buy the Box set between you and three friends then take turns to watch it. You’ll be surprised at how creative you can be.