For young families with little children in the house, money is tight these days. A recent report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation revealed that over 70 percent of the 3.4 million children in households with parents who are 18-24 years old are functioning with very limited resources. The foundation highlighted this need to call on policymakers and others who support young families to act on their behalf.
To be fair, “limited resources” was defined to be less than 200% of poverty level. In the report, that household income number was over $48,000 per year for a family of four. It seems like a lot of money in areas like ours where the cost of living is much lower than other places. Nonetheless, it still underscores a problem that many young families face—which could be a lot worse if a few important things become in jeopardy.
Imagine what relationship troubles might do to a household income where two parents work and share the expenses for one apartment and one grocery bill. Increase the number of apartments needed to care for the same two children and you understand what divorce or separation can do to a household’s resources. This reality alone keeps many couples together despite the disharmony that they endure. Emotional support and skill development for how to improve the quality of relationships becomes even more important than food stamps.
Another danger is the increasing load of student debt that weighs on those who try to improve their lot in life. It seems obvious that attending school, advancing a career and getting a better job would help a family provide more for their own needs. That would be true if they didn’t graduate with a loan payment as high as a mortgage payment. Even worse, they may not finish but will still owe for the classes they took. Now they have no greater income but a new bill to pay: A student loan. Not to mention the fact that they will likely have to choose between their student loan payment and buying a house. It looks like renting is the new reality for many years to come.
Another financial pressure on young families is healthcare. Without assistance from outside, most young families would have to choose between doctor visits and groceries. Health premiums are high and deductibles are even higher.
I would suggest that we come alongside these young families while we wait on policymakers to catch up. There are a lot of ways to support a young family that don’t require underwriting their salaries.
One is emotional support. Walking around giving advice to coworkers or strangers on the street is probably not the best policy. Inviting a young couple over for dinner or taking them for a meal out will not only relieve the time pressure of food preparation but will also provide an opportunity for answering some questions they may have about juggling the financial pressures they face.
A good parenting class is greatly needed to provide some peace in households strained by financial pressure. It is bad enough to struggle financially without feeling at the end of your rope just raising the children. Many resources are available online to give tips and tricks for parents using a smart phone.
Making the money go farther helps relieve the load as well. Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University is available online now as well for individuals or households who want to improve their skills and change their family tree.
Money is tight. Households are struggling. There is no need for the struggle to go without help and hope.