A job loss or rising fuel and food prices can put moms and dads in the tough position of requiring children to sacrifice, such as losing dance lessons. How can you help children understand, instead of thinking mom and dad are mean or that it's somehow their fault?

• Tell your children money is limited, things are becoming more expensive and choices must be made.

• Start with manageable choices: This is how much money we can spend for your birthday, what would you choose in this range?

• Help preschoolers learn more and less at the grocery store. These green beans cost 69 cents, those cost 50 cents. Which one is less? Which one should we buy?

• Brainstorm with teenagers about ways to keep them in their activities. Could they do more fundraisers? Pick up a paper route? Call on grandparents to help? Get rid of cable TV?

• Calm — and empower — frightened older children with openness. Use Monopoly money to demonstrate income, and real bills to show there's some money left over — just not a lot of income for expensive activities.

• Brainstorm family activities that cost little but are nonetheless fun: picnics, going to the park, hiking, bike rides, $1 DVD rentals and popcorn, making cookies.


Sources: Julie Felshaw, Utah State Office of Education; Cheryl Wright, University of Utah; Kaelin Olsen, Utah State University