Gayle, Mark, Oprah and Ali

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After her day at high school, Ali says she started thinking about how to teach her own kids about consumption. "You're just bombarded by it. For a second, I thought I wanted a Bratz doll a few weeks ago," she says. "So I sat down with my children and said, 'You have to understand how this works, and we can't have this kind of fun spending.'"

Ali says parents should start doing more free family activities. "Instead of going to the movies, instead of going shopping, go outside, play softball, go to the park," she says. "Also, talk to your kids about money because I think that's actually helping the American family come together."

So Oprah wants to know—do you think your kids should know how much money you make?

Oprah and Ali say kids should know. "When you say, 'We can't afford that, we can't afford that,' they need to have some perspective on what that means," Oprah says. "This is what is coming into this house, this is what is going out of this house. So when you say, 'I can't afford it,' you know what that means."

Gayle says the decision to tell your children your income depends more on how much you make. "If you're at a certain income level, it doesn't make sense to tell a child when they see how you're living, 'No, I can't afford to get the iPod,'" Gayle says.

Ali suggests teaching kids the concept of budgeting with a fundamental exercise. "Have a lemonade stand, and when they think they've made all this money, you go: 'Okay let me explain how this works. This percentage goes to the house. This percentage goes to the lemons and the sugar, and the rest you give to charity,'" Ali says. "They can see it; they can feel it."

Want to learn more about what families are doing in this economic crisis? Tune in Wednesday, October 22.