Consider emotions, as well as money, during tough financial times

Farm Forum

BROOKINGS, S. D. – When families are faced with financial uncertainty or sudden income loss, addressing the situations takes more than just thinking about dollars and cents, says Carrie Johnson, Assistant Professor & SDSU Extension Family Resource Management Specialist.

“Attitudes, values, and feelings about money come from our childhood and upbringing, as well as our own current family experiences,” Johnson said. “Changes happen in life, and sometimes families have little or no control. Shock and denial are the first reactions people experience, and we need to help families understand these emotions are part of the process that will then lead them to move to adjusting their spending plans and getting themselves back on solid ground.”

Avian influenza has had a significant financial impact on many families in South Dakota. Working through the cycle of grief caused by a sudden drop in income allows families to plan for how to adjust their financial picture with clear heads, and the entire family should be a part of those conversations.

“It is important to adjust your spending and the whole family, including children, needs to talk about the necessary spending adjustments because the decisions affect all members.” Johnson said. “When children are not part of the planning and discussion, they may think they are somehow a cause of the problem and have unrealistic fears. Not only does a whole-family approach help avoid pitting one family member’s ideas against another’s, but you’d be surprised at how children can be a part of the solutions, too.”

Johnson also advises being proactive with creditors. After an honest appraisal of your finances, she says it is best to call your creditors and explain your financial situation rather than waiting until you are long past due on payments. Some creditors might be willing to allow partial bill payment or negotiate other strategies with you.

SDSU Extension is cooperating with University of Minnesota Extension and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach to provide resources for families struggling with the human challenges brought on by avian influenza. Extension staff from the three Land-Grant Universities are providing families with research-based information and resources.

To learn more, follow #AvianFluImpact on social media, visit or call SDSU Extension AnswerLine for information and resources for consumers with home and family questions. For AnswerLine, call 1-888-393-6336 toll-free Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – noon and 1 – 4 p.m.