Talking to your parents about the economic crisis
The current economic crisis is taking a toll on millions of American families. From everyday expenses to paying for big-ticket items such as college educations, families are making big adjustments to their spending plans.
Here are some ways your parents—and by extension, you-might be affected by the current economy, and how you can talk to them about it.
- Losing a job: Unemployment rates are climbing across the country. If one or both of your parents have lost their income, they will have a hard time paying for everyday living expenses, much less your tuition.
- Job insecurity: If your parents are still working but are worried they may lose their jobs, they may be cautious and try to save as much money as possible. They may not be able to give you as much spending money for non-essentials at school.
- Investments: Many parents save for their children’s college education and invest that money in a special account or education fund. Unfortunately, those accounts lost significant value when the stock market started to slide.
- Housing: Home equity is a big source of money for many college-bound families, as parents borrow against the value of their homes to pay for tuition. Home equity is the current market value of the home minus the outstanding mortgage balance. But now, because housing values have fallen substantially, many families no longer have equity in their homes. Or, they may need to use the home equity for other purposes.
- Credit crunch: Banks are more stringent in approving loans of all kinds. Even if your parents have good credit, their borrowing abilities might be limited.
Talking about it
No parent wants to tell a child that their family is having money troubles. But in the current financial climate, almost everyone is affected by the economy. If you're wondering how your parents are coping and they haven't brought it up, it's OK for you to start the conversation. Here are some ways to bring it up:
- Be honest: Tell them you know times are tough and that college is expensive. Explain that you're not being nosy, but you want to have a better understanding of your family's financial outlook.
- Ask questions: If you know home equity was your parents' plan to pay college bills, ask if the option is still available. Ask how your college savings accounts have fared in the stock market.
- Use an anecdote: If you know a fellow student whose parents are in financial trouble, you can use the story to broach the topic with your parents.
For more on how you can ease your parents' financial stresses, click here.