Facing Family Finances During the Drought

By Leanne Manning
Extension Educator

Drought is a natural disaster that can cost individuals and families plenty of stress and money.  Some farm and ranch families may have to make difficult decisions on whether to sell cattle that have been a part of their family's production line for three or four generations because they do not have enough pasture or hay to continue to feed them.  Economic costs to all involved in a drought can mean increased food costs and lower tax revenues that eventually may translate to fewer services.

Following are several ideas to help reduce financial stress.

  • Develop a plan for both income and expenses. When no farm income is anticipated for many months, it may be useful to put some funds into a separate savings account for future living expenses. Gradually transfer the funds to the checking account to discourage unnecessary spending.
  • Solve financial problems by finding more money or reducing spending. Prioritize spending to match available income.
  • Track income and expenses separating business and living expenses.
  • Talk about values and attitudes related to money.  Determine what is important and check to see if spending reflects those priorities.
  • Set guidelines for money talks.  Let everyone talk.  Practice listening to others and truly hearing what they are saying.  Be willing to negotiate and compromise.
  • Set financial goals and priorities.  Have all family members identify what they can contribute toward reaching family financial goals.  Uncertain economic times may mean some goals need to be put on hold temporarily.


Making Decisions and Coping Well with Drought by R.J. Fetsch, and published by Colorado State University in 2012. Retrieved March 5, 2013 from http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/consumer/10256.html

Healthy Living in Tough Economic Times (G2041) by Lisa D. Franzen-Castle, Kathy Prochaska-Cue, and Cathy Johnson and published by University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in 2010.