The COVID-19 crisis has been nothing short of a nightmare. Millions of Americans have already lost their jobs because of it, and right now, countless small businesses across the country risk never managing to open their doors again. As such, many adults are stressed out beyond belief -- even those who haven't necessarily seen their income disturbed just yet.
But a new survey by Junior Achievement USA and Citizens Bank reveals that it's not just grown-ups who are worried about the financial impact of COVID-19; teenagers are concerned as well. Specifically, 69% say they're worried about the way the crisis will impact their families' finances. And 44% of high school juniors and seniors say the crisis has made them rethink their plans to pay for college (namely, many will now need to take out student loans to cover their higher education costs). And 18% say that COVID-19 has changed their desired career path.
If you have a teen who's concerned over COVID-19, an open discussion could be just the thing that puts his or her mind at ease. Here are a few key points to touch on.
1. Talk about how your family is paying the bills
If you have a teen who's losing sleep because there's been a layoff in the family, and you have emergency savings, it helps to loop him or her in. Granted, getting laid-off is a stressful situation even for those with money in the bank, but if you explain to your teen that you have the ability to cover a few months' worth of bills, it may help ease his or her mind.
And if you don't have an emergency fund, let your teen know how your family is covering its bills. Maybe you're making ends meet by cutting expenses, collecting unemployment, and relying on a little leniency from the service providers you owe money to. It may help to let your teen know that while things aren't great, you can still put food on the table and retain your home.
2. Discuss your teen's options for college
There's no rule stating that students must graduate high school and go directly to college. If COVID-19 has impacted your family's finances to the point where college is suddenly a less affordable prospect than ever before, walk your teen though his or choices. Maybe deferring college for a year is a smart move. That way, your child can work for a while, save money, and avoid racking up tons of debt. Or maybe your child can shift gears and apply to community college, which is far less expensive than a four-year school (including in-state schools).
Finally, you may want to explain to your teen how student loans work so he or she doesn't think they're the worst thing in the world. Federal loans can be quite affordable and come with borrower protections that make repaying them easier than private loans.
3. Give your teen a way to help
Your teen may be eager to contribute to your family financially at a time when things are so precarious. If there's a job your child can do safely during this time, supporting your teen may help him or her feel more empowered and less helpless. Your teen may be able to sign up to tutor remotely, or offer online music lessons if he or she plays an instrument.
While the COVID-19 situation is unquestionably difficult on adults, it's just as hard on teens, if not more so. If your child is concerned about the outbreak's impact on your family's finances, it pays to have open conversations about it. Doing so could help make an otherwise stressful time just a bit less anxiety-inducing.