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Helping Kids Cope with Uncertainty

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Helping Kids Cope with Uncertainty

I come from a family that didn’t discuss finances with children. Not budgets, salaries, expenses, nada. My parents were good with their money, but they just didn’t feel like we needed to know details. So I never thought of us as rich or poor, but I also never paid attention to anything financial.

I try to be more open with my kids. But with this pandemic going on, I keep forgetting just how often our kids are listening… or overhearing. A few weeks into our quarantine, our 10-year-old had a meltdown. Turns out she was worried that we couldn’t work and that we had no money.

Not Our Best Parenting Moment

You see, the night we found out our business closure went from three weeks to three months, my husband and I processed it live, right in front of the kids.

Earlier that evening we had piled onto the trampoline and put on a movie on the laptop, trying to make the best of this weird time. As the movie ended, we all watched the stars come out. It was pretty magical.

Thennnn we went inside. My husband had left his phone there, and as he checked it he groaned. A group text was exploding over our governor’s new executive order. This was mid-March, and we learned we’d be closed until June 15.

Magic gone.

We stared at each other. Then I said, “That can’t be right… let me find the actual order…” My husband starting listing what this would mean and what we would have to do. He was on his phone, I was on the computer, and we were upset, talking and processing.

And we sorta forgot the kids were there.

They started to pepper us with their own questions, but I sent them upstairs to get ready for bed. We tucked them in feeling totally numb, weakly reassuring them we’d be okay.

Over the next days and weeks, my husband and I started gaining hope through loan deferments and emergency funds and Small Business Loans. However, we forgot to pass that hope onto our kids.

So when our sweet daughter broke down crying that day, I realized we needed to fill her in.

Kids Need a Plan Too

We wrapped her sobbing body in our arms, and simply explained our financial situation. I told her how much our family usually spends a month, but that right now we didn’t have to pay some big things, like our house and our student loan. We let her know we had an emergency fund of $8,000, and we had a tax return and stimulus checks on their way. Our business was getting help too.

As she did the math, she calmed down. We weren’t losing our home, we could still eat, we were safe. She got it.

Our kids have been champions through all this. It’s impossible to shield them from all worry, but it is possible to help kids cope with uncertainty. This was a good reminder that just as budgeting and tracking our money has brought me peace, it can bring children peace too.

Have your kids been worrying during this pandemic?

Shame is very Motivating

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In continuing my Student Loan saga, based on my research, I am more determined than ever to get rid of this debt. The realization of my complete ignorance in getting into their much debt, let alone, letting it hang around my neck for over 17 years…well, no more. I broke down the details in my last post and explained where this debt is from and more importantly how long it has been here.

Ugh! As of today (5/1/2020 when I am writing this post,) my student loan balance is $33,893.20.

The Plan

Since both loans are being charged the same interest, and the unsubsidized or subsidized doesn’t matter since I am out of school. I think my best bet to is focus on paying the lowest balance loan first.

I realize that keeping them listed as Loan 1 and 2 doesn’t really matter, but having a loan paid off or seeing one’s balance go down significantly faster will be a mental boost for sure.

Thoughts of this plan?

When Not Deferred

When not deferred due to the virus, the required monthly payment is right at $306. So what I’d like to do is start designating that payment to the lower balance loan immediately. It is already in my budget.

Once the deferment period is over, which is currently set for the end of August, they payment will be split between the two loans. Based on my last payments, the split designates approximately $130 of each payment toward this loan.

But for now, I can make some progress on the smaller of the two. The current balance of the smallest loan is $14,131.

Lofty but Achievable Goal

Using very basic math, I divided the current balance by 12. To pay the smallest of these two loans off within the year, I need to pay $1,178 every month on it. And that doesn’t take into consideration the $175ish that is paid to the larger loan every month (when not in deferment) or the interest that will continue to accrue.

So, my dream goal…pay off the smaller two of the loans by May, 2021. Is it possible based on my average income from the past year…yes. But it will be a stretch. In every way.

But with the shame motivating me. I believe I can do it.

And having the next 3 months will the payment solely focused on that loan will help tremendously.

I am glad I went to grad school. I learned a lot, made some amazing life long friends and it definitely has made a difference in my career and earning potential. But there is no word other than STUPID and IGNORANT for how I handled the finances. In hindsight, I would have gone more slowly. I would have paid cash for it.

And I am having these discussions with my children on a regular basis. I do not want them shackled by debt especially when there are ways around it.

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