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Surviving Family Financial Hardship: My Story

By Rachel Paxton

My daughter is 18 years old this year, older than I was when she

was born. For years we lived on a very low income and barely

made ends meet.

She watched me work my way through college, studying hard, often

working more than one job to make ends meet. If you were to ask

her now if we had any money when she was young she would tell you

she didn't really know. She never went to bed hungry and always

had clean clothes to wear. She always had toys to play with and

mom was always there for her when she needed her. That is what

she remembers.

My daughter is now applying for college herself, and wanted me to

read her college application. She had to write about herself and

her life, her relationships, etc. I was very surprised to read

what she thought about her childhood. We have lived through a

lot of tough times and there are a lot of negative stories she

could tell. What she described is how thankful she was for the

hardships she has endured and how she has become a strong woman

because of her life experiences. She credits me for her drive

and determination. She attributes her money management skills to

my example.

Her essay made me realize that it is not the experiences we go

through that shape us--it is how we handle those experiences.

When you are enduring financial hardships, if you make poor

decisions, your children will see your decisions and feel the

impact of those decisions. If you make good choices, your

children will learn from those choices also, regardless of your

financial circumstances. Every choice you make affects the people

your children will some day become. If your children see you

charging up your credit cards (regardless of how much money you

make), they will think that is normal and will learn those

spending habits from you. If you live on a low income and spend

your money wisely, your children will learn to manage their money


You can not teach your children what you do not model. Your

children need to learn to budget their money, however much money

that is, to not accumulate debt, and to shop wisely. You can

teach them this from a very young age, with even their

allowances. Sit down and really take the time to decide what you

want your children to learn about money and start modeling those

behaviors for your children today.

About The Author
Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom who is the author of What's for Dinner?, an e-cookbook containing more than 250 quick easy dinner ideas. For more recipes, organizing tips, home decorating, crafts, holiday hints, and more, visit Creative Homemaking at


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