Make Your Family Your Financial Allies: If you're the primary money manager in your family, you will probably shoulder all the responsibility for turning your family's finances around. However, that does not mean you shouldn't involve the rest of your family in the effort. The cooperation of your spouse or partner is essential. Although you may pay the bills each month, you and your spouse or partner both spend your family's money, so he or she has a very direct effect on the success or failure of your get-out-of-debt program. You should also be honest about your family's finances with your children. They don't need to know all the details, but if your children are old enough to see the money-related tension and anxiety in your household, you need to tell them what is going and what you are doing to improve things. Pulling Together With Your Spouse Or Partner The support and cooperation of your spouse or partner is essential to getting your family's finances back on track. One of you can't be pinching pennies while the other is spending like there's no tomorrow. If you and your spouse or partner have trouble talking calmly about your family's financial problems and what to do about them, avoid letting your conversations degenerate into arguments. When you talk to your spouse or partner about your debts, try to stay focused on solutions instead of blaming. Help your children maintain a sense of security by explaining your family's financial situation and what they can expect in the months to come. Take their ages and maturity levels into consideration when you decide what to say and how to say it. Be careful not to scare them. Regardless of the age of your children, reassure them that things may be different for a while, but you love them and everything will be okay. Help them feel safe by letting them know that you and your spouse are putting a financial plan together, by keeping their day-to-day routines as unchanged as possible, and by doing fun things together. Be alert to signs that your family's financial problems are creating a lot of stress in your children's lives or that they are becoming depressed. Signs of trouble include crying, angry outbursts, withdrawal, behavior problems at school, headaches, stomach-aches, not wanting to go to school. Try to get your kids to talk about what is bothering them. If they won't, or the symptoms get worse, they probably need to meet with a mental health professional. As you help your children cope with your family's financial circumstances, bear in mind that your money troubles offer you an opportunity to teach them important lessons about managing money and the dangers of too much debt. When they become adults, they may be able to use those lessons to avoid financial trouble. A good way to teach them responsible money practices is getting them involved with drawing up the family budget.
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