How do you tell your kids that you are broke?

How do you do it? How do you tell your kid (5) you don’t have the money? Things have been VERY tight lately. We applied for food assistance and were denied…which absolutely baffles me… but they did. My daughter starts Kindergarten Aug 30th and we haven’t been able to take her back to school shopping for supplies, clothes or shoes because we can’t afford it. My husband is the main provider and has applied for a second job but hasn’t gotten a call yet and we’re trying to sell things we can on Marketplace with no luck. My heart is breaking because this wasn’t the life I envisioned giving my kids. Please Mama’s how do you do this


Send them to a school with uniforms. Ask for donations. Join the “Buy Nothing” project groups.

Honestly my kids don’t know either way. Even when I have money my kids know not to ask for anything at stores. If I have it and feel they have earned something extra I will ask them to pick something. As far as necessities I would say when we have it we will get it for you. I would check out resales and get with the school a bout supplies as most get them donated. Some even know people willing to sponsor a needy kid. Never be afraid to ask for help with your kids… you will be surprised the help out there.
Everyone has hard times. As long as they are housed and fed they are good. I have money and my kids still wear thier good clothes from last year. We also do 2 years on the backpack. Some practices are wasteful land we don’t do that here.

Help a mama out and respond anonymously on our forum. How do you tell your kids that you are broke?

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I’m in the same boat. It’s insane especially since I’m a single parent of 2 boys ages 7 and 9 with no help


Go to local churches they will do the school supplies and clothes


It’s hard, I have to tell my 3 kids often that momma just can’t afford things right now. Would be much easier if their dad would actually help but he doesn’t.

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It’s hard for a lot of people right now. Don’t be so hard on yourself. If they have a place to live and food to eat, you’re doing just fine. Take it day by day :heart:


Social services and other local places usually help with bts.

There plenty of at home jobs u can do, just apply even if u don’t think u qualify for for it. They train u or get a part time job, why does he have to get a second job. In this world both parents need to work.


You don’t tell them… ever…
That’s not a conversation for a child especially at 5
They don’t need to worry…
That’s a reason some children e d up with different issues…
Worrying from such a young age can do some damage…


We’re struggling too. Its tough out here right now. We have 6 kids and my husband is our only source of income, as I’m about to have a hysterectomy. Hang in there, it’ll get better! Prayers and hugs momma :heart:

There will likely be many back to school drives in your area. Go to them all and arrive early .

Also, search FB for your local BUY NOTHING group and make a request for school items or whatever else may be needed for the kids, the house etc

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You can repeal the decision for food assistance

Go to food pantrys for food

You don’t have to explain to them the financial aspect. She does not need to know, that is grown up stuff. Tell her you’ll get the school supplies later & reach out to community resources. Many have back to school assistance. It won’t be much but there may be multiple and it can help you put together the supplies she needs.


We’ve lived in several states and honestly this is one of the reasons why I preferred the states that provide school supplies paid for by the states. I’m sorry about the clothes and shoes but we never could afford new ones growing up either and honestly 90 percent of my kids clothes I’ve bought at thrift stores.

Sadly thats life and kids do not need all material things its love and happiness that counts, and there are charities out there who can help its looking in the correct places

I wouldn’t share my fanatical struggles with my 5 yr old, it’s not their stress to carry.


Do you guys have a car? Can you sign up for Uber or DoorDash? I know at least with DoorDash as soon as you start you can have a virtual card while you wait in your physical copy to be mailed. It could help with an online/pick up order.

Do you have a neighborhood group page that gives stuff away giving amongst neighbors pretty much that’s how I have been getting stuff for my kids things are tight for us to right now

I’d say check your local churches

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Look for churches, local groups etc, in our area there was quite a few

Seeing that you haven’t started school yet do a search in your area for back to school events that give out free stuff like school supplies/ clothing etc. Sometimes towns/ cities have these events other times it is the school district or some churches do these events.


I buy clothes on market place and my girls love them. School supplies bought at dollar tree. This is a bad year not a bad life. Don’t tell that baby, she will never know clothes are used, or her crayons are from dollar tree. You got this mama!

Check a lot of community pages
Often there’s back to school resources where they set up a kind of market to get free supplies and backpacks.

Burlington commonly has clothes and shoes and stuff for cheap
Also a lot of fb pages give away childrens stuff for free along with family resources

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Local churches, talk to the school as well, many schools have back to school backpacks for kids who can’t afford the supplies (and it’s crazy how expensive supplies get).
As for telling kids, just let them know money is tight and it happens. Everyone struggles sometimes, times are rough but doesn’t define you. You rich where it matters with family and each other.

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In my opinion, that’s not something you explain to children. Especially of that age. That’s something in private you deal with, as an adult.

I know it’s hard right now, and it is for most everyone. But a 5 year old has no business in grown folks issues.
Money issues are not something to be brought down to a child’s level. It’s not developmentally appropriate.

Try reaching out to moms groups, lots of people purging clothes. Schools often have grants for supplies for children that need them.

Try womans centre’s in your area, churches, food banks, ect

Appeal the decision on the foodstamps


The school may be able to help with the school supplies. Post in a local “free” Facebook group for some things you desperately need. Churches can usually help, too.
Hang in there. I was a single mom with toddler twins for years. You can make it!

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She does not need to know but you can also try and find a job… I work and provide in the house too

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Find food pantries n produce if u live in Texas they r all over

Personally I don’t think you should tell your child. The world is crazy enough, let kids be kids as long as possible. Kids shouldn’t be burdened with adult problems. Whatever you can provide is good enough for them, especially at that age!


I wouldn’t tell them, there’s no need. When they’re older, if you’re still broke, they’ll notice when it matters and when they’re old enough to understand and process it. People I have never seen struggle are moving in with family because they’ve lost their homes. These are hard times for everyone, and as long your kids have what they absolutely need the rest does NOT matter. A used backpack holds the same hopes and dreams as a brand new one. They don’t have to have supplies to start school. They dont need brand new clothes, just something to wear. You can only do the best you can. Contact the school your little will be going to, they often know of school supply and clothing drives!

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You don’t.
No matter how much you’re struggling, don’t let that become your child’s burden. Everyone struggles sometimes, but you don’t have to let your children see you struggle.

Post on a local Facebook group, ask neighbors if there’s anything they can donate to help. New school clothes don’t HAVE to be brand new, just new to them.

Go to your child’s school, most school counselors have a program to help families in need, especially in times like we’re in now where everything is priced absolutely ridiculously.

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Let them be kids. Don’t tell them Adult problems. This world is going crazy


Powell Methodist Church had a clothes closet.

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Look in your area for back to school giveaways.
Not sure where your located but I am in upstate ny and I always see post about back to school giveaways, some even give clothes and food and sneakers for kids and adults,
Try churches and maybe Google as well free stuff in your area.
The help is out there have to search. I remember them times and I was always looking for free stuff in my area. I am lucky not to need it anymore but trust me the help is out there. Have to look for it.
Don’t tell your child your broke. She does not need to know. She 5.

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You NEVER, tell your kids your financial situation. That is a grow up problem. If you can’t work, find something to do, cups, shirts, buy things clean them, resell them, you can offer baby sitting, offer to make someone else lunch for school. That take a lot of weight off off others, people will pay for convenience. I mean my mind can go on about what you can do. No reason for someone to be broke. If something isn’t working for you try something else. HUSTLE!!!

We don’t say broke, we say we are on a budget and saving our money for important things. We talk about need vs want and impulse buys. We started this at a very young age. When they were little they would find coupons for me and it turned into this game of seeing how much we could save on an item. My boys know I never buy anything at full price and we like to make our dollar stretch. I have no shame in that. If you’re not ashamed than your kids won’t be either. We let our kids sell their toys they out grew so they know they need to take care of them so they get more for the item. This allows them their own savings and they always have the option if I say NO, they can buy it themselves (most of the time they rethink that :rofl::woman_facepalming:). There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying we can’t afford this right now. But we do not say broke because it puts pressure on the kids. It makes them worry if food will be in the fridge and a roof over their heads.


That’s kinda tough for a 5 year old to understand. When I was working part time, it was a little hard for me and my boyfriend, but then I got fired. I don’t get child support for my oldest so there’s that, but I just flat out told my oldest (he’s 11) that I didn’t have any money and he understood. Then I went out and got a full time job because I found out I was pregnant

You don’t tell them. You go to churches for help. You thrift what you can. You do gig work, like Uber. You sell plasma. You take crappy jobs to keep money coming in until you find a better job. You pawn your jewelry. You trade in their old clothes at consignment shops for clothes in their new sizes. You accept hand-me-downs. You accept help and charity, and swallow a lot of pride. You do whatever it takes. You’re the momma which means you have nobody coming to save you, you have to be your own hero. It’s really really hard. But I know you can do it, because a mothers love is divine.


I’m honest, I tell them exactly why and who is to blame. You’re probably like most families right now and barely get by due to crazy inflation rates. It’s ok to explain that due to this we can’t have this, it will teach them life lessons even at an early age. My 7 year old knows exactly why people are struggling and because of this, she is determined to be president one day.

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Once upon a child if you have one in your area. sometimes they have some really cute clothes and it’s pretty affordable. And you can also sell gently used kids stuff there too. Maybe search local church groups or non profits to see if they can help?? Also, I’m sure if you reach out to your child’s school they can help you as well❤️

I know my towns local funeral home does a school drive. My kiddos elementary school has a closest with clothing and shoes for kiddos also.

In my area local churches help low income families and you can call around town see if anyone is doing a free event

If we are at the store and can’t afford things we need/ want I tell my kids to hold it up and we will take a picture to remember for later. Times are hard. Hang in there.

I only buy new clothing if they need it. If they still fit in then a ton of new clothing not needed. Tho second hand for kids clothing is my jam they grow to fast.

And I don’t speak about my finances with children ither then " can’t afford it atm"

The child is five, she doesn’t needs to know grown folks business. As long as you provide with her basic needs, stop worry about it. She is a child not an adult. You and your husband take care of what needs to take care and let your child be a child.


Check the community for ways to receive assistance. As far as the explaining part… simply tell him. My son is 4 and he understands the concept you need money to buy things and everything isn’t needed but something you want. He asks for something I can’t afford I tell him I don’t have the money for that right now and later he’ll ask if I have the money yet or how much moneys is it. Start now so it won’t be hard later. My children have understood money since they were between 3-4 and it makes them handle their own money better than some adults.

I try to stay positive but also make sure my kids understand a gentle version of it. I’ll say things like “we don’t have the money yet, we gotta go make it first. And sometimes it take time, but we’ll get there. Just be patient please”. My kids are very used to being “patient” because I’m always broke. Good luck to you mama. Positive vibes to you :sparkles:

One day at a time! There are a lot off free bts give away events at a lot of places! Depending on where you live…i would search churches etc. Keep your head up mama

I’m in the same place and I’m just honest with them…we just don’t have the money for new stuff right now. We got each kid a couple of outfits over the summer on clearance and that’s it. Kids should know that managing households and money isn’t easy and should be taught how as early as possible to make it easier for them when they’re adults.

Financial struggles should never be put on the weight of a child shoulders.

Most kids don’t even notice when parents are struggling financially, try & find food pantry’s & their are usually clothing vouchers for kids school age, or churches help with clothing too! & I would maybe call early & explain to her teacher that you’re finacially struggling with getting all her supplies & im sure they teacher always has spares of everything she would need, that could be given to her in the first day of school!

You don’t have to tell your children that you are financially struggling. Check with local faith based groups, food pantries for assistance.

Not their burden to to bare. Lots of places do have back to school drives that will supply some of the school supplies. If she is only 5 she is not required to attend kindergarten this year. You can wait and send her when she is 6 if it’s something you guys can do. Perhaps that would make things a little easier.

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She’s 5. You just say, “not right now”. Kids that young don’t understand financial issues.

I think you should be honest. It very well might humble them to appreciate things they have.

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Yup, thrift stores, Freecycle, Facebook Marketplace, eat more vegetarian (meat is expensive but tofu, yoghurt & beans are not), food pantries/banks, churches. Also check with the school guidance counselor. We used to donate clothes & shoes to the kids’ middle school counselor so she could discreetly distribute them to kids in need. Dollar Stores sometimes have stuff for less. Get a side job you can do when your partner is home to watch your child. Tutoring, Web page design, data entry, whatever your talents allow.

Most agencies deny you the first time to make sure you’re serious. Appeal any negative decisions to get your benefits.

Moms groups are helpful for cost-cutting ideas & passing on outgrown outfits and other items.

You don’t. Your child is starting kindergarten they don’t need back to school shopping. They don’t even know what that is. Reach out to a local church or ask the school About school supplies. Post a list of the supplies she needs or post an Amazon wish list of the supplies. If she needs pants go to the thrift store on a sale day. Call your local birth rite. Call your local job and family resources and libraries.

It’s tough I just toldmy kids we will have to make due with what we have. My sons shoes ripped and don’t even have a good pair of shoesto start school. I 100% understand it’s heart breaking I am always upset, I kill myself every day and still struggle. I can’t get any help either. I have skipped eating just to make sure my kids have. I hope it gets better for all of us

Talk to social worker at school… many of them have donations to gift to kids in need!

You don’t need to explain anything to them. You simply do your best, make sure they’re safe and fed and loved… the other things, you will find a way.

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I just tell my kiddos that money is tight and we have to make smart choices. They help me think of solutions without being stressed out about it. It’s just the way it is. :upside_down_face: But, I spend hardly anything on myself and instead use the funds for everything that my children need and not what they want. Also, my partner donates plasma. If there’s a donation center near you it’s an excellent way to make some extra $ while helping other people. Win win situation. I wish you the best. Life is hard right now. But, if your children have food in their bellies and a roof over their heads you’re doing better than you think. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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Your child is 5 you don’t have to go into detail just straight up say we don’t have the money right now. Not sure exactly why you need to tell your child but if you do just keep it simple.


Try to look for giveaways. And if possible when she’s in school try to find a job you can work while she’s at school.

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Our kids center was doing a supply drive and had little backpacks that they were giving out I’m sure you could reach out to some local services for at least supplies! We have three and my husband is the only one working so we just have a plan each month. We wright out all bills and how much he’ll make and then pay all the bills first and have some leftover, there are always going to be tighter months than others! School starting and the holidays are the hardest but if you make a plan and stick to it you should be able to make it work! I’m sorry you are going through this, and as far as explaining I don’t really think you have to you’re doing what you can so no need to tell your kiddo…

I’m in the same boat right now. My son starts kindergarten next Friday and I haven’t been able to go clothes or supplies shopping either. I’ve always just been honest. :woman_shrugging:

Talk to the School Counselor. They can usually help with clothing and supplies that you child will need for School. They can also help with assistance with for food also. They helped me many times when my children needed things while they were in School.

Go to food pantry. Wait until school supplies go on sale, donate plasma. Buy meats on discount, go to the dollar tree or dollar general. Buy cheaper detergent if you can, don’t buy softeners use vinegar instead. Skip and save where you can, if they wear uniform, go to thrift stores or ask for clothing donation from family and friends.

I never understood the need for new clothes once school starts and I’m a mom. If you cant afford it, the clothes they have will suffice. Call the school and explain the situation. Go to food pantries, no shame in putting food on the table. There’s a small community to help with these things. Oftentimes resale shops offer a voucher for free clothes. Good luck Mama! You got this!!

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It’s not easy but they don’t need that worry. There are age appropriate ways to have conversions about it. If she brings it up and asks just say we can’t buy new stuff yet. I’ll let u know when we can. Keep it simple and to the point. Don’t even need to mention affordable or not.

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Yes where do you live? There must be some resources where you are.

You really don’t have to explain, most kids that little don’t pay much attention to clothing and such. If you want to, since she’s younger, just tell her something like your card doesn’t have money on it for school things, but will soon. Just try to keep the conversation simple. Check with your school board for back to school fairs or programs which may offer free or reduced school supplies, as well as Salvation Army or similar things for clothing. I filed bankruptcy earlier this year for trying to live outside my means too long, and my kids are older so I was very honest with them about it. They know now if I say no to an extra pair of shoes or something that I mean it. I think it’s more a hit to our mommy pride than anything, I’m sorry you’re struggling. This too shall pass!

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Where are you located? I have a bunch of extra school supplies! I could deff send you some

I have some school clothes depending on the sizes she needs! Please message me!

If you’d like to PM me sizes I have shoes that have been worn twice and look new. I can send to you if right size

Unfortunately that’s where many are right now.
First thing is first, rebudget. Cut extra cable, streaming services, etc. Even double check lower rates for insirance. Save anywhere you can.
Now, if you don’t work, look into when she has to start school. My state doesn’t require school until age 7. If you can put it off a y r that will help. Or, homeschool. Many states are homeschool friendly and it’s not as hard as ppl think. There’s local groups that meet for help and field trips. Join local FB Mom hroups bc they always have ppl looking to trade or buy clothes as kids age.
It’ll be hard at first but with a goal and plan, you’ll get through this. :black_heart:

It’s very rough, we had to do free back to school giveaways this year and I feel horrible because my daughter is 13 and wants nice things like everyone else her age has. She never complains or gets mad but I can tell it’s hard for her to see others get the stuff she can’t get. The only way is to tell them the truth in my opinion at least for older kids who understand how money works. Things will get better for your family one day just hang in there. :green_heart:

Don’t out your finances on your kids, period.

We are trying to save money is about as far as I would go with anything.


Do you have a Facebook page in your area that lists items and clothing that is for trading , swapping or just plain donating. If you post a need, a lot times others will offer what they have to give.


Get ahold of United Way…and 211 in your community. They have tons of places to get school supplies, and food pantries, and etc., etc. But you have to “income qualify.” You say this would be no problem. Not getting your children new clothes for school is not a problem. Not all kids want or need new clothes, but many used clothing places and nonprofits will supply you with school clothes too. No one can go hungry in the USA, nor not have clothing to wear. We have too many programs and giving people to let that happen.

You don’t explain this to a child, you just do your best and make the most and I’m sure they’ll appreciate everything they get

I never did buy new things for the kids till they go on sale in October. The other kids haven’t seen their summer clothes anyways. I’ll get em a hoodie sometimes or shoes but…I was a single mom with five children. Plus, they never were into material possessions. Now that they’re older they buy whatever they want. With their own money. We need to stop thinking money can make us happy. When there is none we shouldn’t be feeling so down. Our parents and grandparents showed us how to live frugally. Try to recall…

At five they don’t really understand but can worry. So I would just say that sometimes we have to watch all our pennys very carefully. But everything will get better but for now we have to try and spend carefully.


Look up giveaways and local resources

My kids are grown but yesterday I was in a thrift store shopping for work out pants and I observed a mom letting her son pick out 2 pants, and 3 shirts. The kid loved that he got to chose and the mom got to save a bit.


Tell them you don’t have money. But tell them you don’t have money for extra stuff. There is places that help, look into that

Well it’s like I tell my boy when I say we are broke he gets upset but it’s like no we have money for food we have money for stuff you need need. I say to him this is not going to be forever it has been for the last few years but I start getting him school supplies and all that kind of stuff like a year before the next year of school happens like Christmas I have his gifts I will buy something for him at least once a month like one month I’ll get him a pair of sneakers another month I’ll get him a couple outfits so I’m always getting him stuff for school throughout the whole school year so he’s already stocked for September it’s hard because if he ends up having a huge growth spurt then I’m pretty much out money and having to find a way to get a whole new set but we have a group of people where I’ll donate clothes that don’t fit him no more and they’ll donate clothes that don’t fit their kids anymore so we just keep cycling it in he does get four to six new outfits for school and one to two pairs of sneakers for school as well I am so sorry your family is going through it it’s hard especially with everything going up if the government keeps doing this no one’s going to be able to survive unless you’re rich

I tell my girls that simply I don’t have money. As for the school stuff, talk to the school and her teacher. They help out more than parents realize.

Sometimes in my area there are churches or charities that can help with that. See if theres something in your area. Try school supply shopping at dollar stores. Nothing needs to be fancy. If your community has a page youd be surprised how many people still have hearts. It makes me so mad to see people suffer. Trust me, I too am in your situation. Someone doesn’t apply for food assistance if they don’t need it.

Go to your principal or if they have a social worker to help her with school supplies or even clothes. A lot of schools have connections, with food banks, churches, etc. We had struggles to my husband was in college when my kids were little I know the struggles. They got what they got. We would say no when we couldn’t afford something. Christmas was very simple, do the best with what you got.

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Definitely use a food pantry. Look up food pantries online within your state/county. This would save you money on groceries, which you could spend on your child’s needs. As for selling online, try listing items on more than one marketplace. I use Facebook, Poshmark, OfferUp, and eBay.

Check your local community events, most have back to school events that will provide back packs and school supplies

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I try to explain it in little kid terms that times are really hard right now. I have 9, 7 and 2 year old girls and we do Grubhub on the side to make loose ends meet after my paychecks run out. I give the 9 & 7 year old duties, i.e. one is on baby sister/lock unlock the car duties in the back seat and the other one helps me with the phone part of deliveries. I give them each a little cut of our earnings each day so they get a sense of money usage. The 9 year old is a math whiz and understands the concept of paying bills so I let her see what our money goes towards. They don’t always understand, or rather don’t want to understand, but I’m lucky to have really easy going little ladies. We live very simply, but everyone is happy healthy fed and clean and we’re all together with a roof over our heads so we are fortunate :heart: good luck :heart:

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I’m so sorry. We’re struggling too my children are older however so it’s easy to explain to them. It’s hard explaining Adult issues to babies. I’m praying things get better for yall

Klarna… order offline and it’ll break whatever you spend into 4 payments.

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Single mom here. I taught them the difference between wants and needs and when they ask for something if I just don’t have it I tell them I only have enough money for needs right now and I have them add it to the “wants list”


Get a hold of your 211 United Way to see where you can get help at. Find out where your food banks are. And sometimes they have clothes school supplies etc. See what church is in your area can help you. I know you don’t want to do all this but right now she might have to. I didn’t like to ask for help but I did and I got a lot of help and now I’m back on my feet. I will be praying for you and your family


I just tell them now isn’t a good time but I will remember that you want it and as soon as I can I will get it for you.