As the saying goes, you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family. That is especially true when it comes to your parents. After all, it is the lottery of life which decides which family you are born into. For some, this can be a blessing as they are literally born with a silver spoon in their mouth.
But for others, the spoon is more silver plated. This brings up some challenges, especially with aging parents as you want to make sure they are protected, though this is not always easy. As such, this article aims to give you some pointers on how to have a conversation with your parents about money.
Here is the funny thing when it comes to talking about money – it might be one of the most important conversations you can have but no one really wants to do it. Think about it. How many times have you rushed home for the holidays or a family event bursting at the seams to talk with your parents about their finances?
I hazard to guess that the answer is never. Sure, you might have asked your parents for money before. But to sit down with them as an equal and discuss their financial future. That is a different story altogether.
That being said, this important conversation is becoming even more important as our parents enter life beyond retirement. According to a survey from Fidelity Investments, many conversations between adult children and parents about money end in some sort of disagreement.
Now, this isn’t for lack of trying but rather because the talk brings out concerns about control and lack of independence. In this case, parents feeling like they are ceding control to their children. If you have children, then you can understand where your parents are coming from.
As such, timing is critical to any conversation with your parents about money. In fact, research shows that while most parents would prefer to delay the conversation, the best time is always now. If for any reason that it will give you, and your parents, enough time to ease into the conversation without the added stress of a looming emergency.
One strategy to ease into the conversation is to start by asking your parents about their advice. Take for example reverse mortgages. While it might not be time for you to consider one, you might want to ask your parents what they think about them and if they have done any research on the subject.
A great way to breach is if you live in another state. Show your parents a list of California lenders and ask them if they or someone they know might have heard of these lenders and what was their experience.
The reason this approach works is that it is a great way to ease into the conversation by asking for advice. This makes your parents feel like they are still in charge and will make them more open to go into greater detail.
Another way to help your parents to find a financial planner both of you could trust is to ask them to meet ‘your’ planner. Here’s a hint the planner does not need to be yours but might be someone who you trust and if you are introducing them to your parents then you will want to set the ground rules beforehand as this will ensure there are no awkward situations.
In fact, this approach can really help to break the ice as you are getting your parents in the room with a trust, and professional, advisor but are using them as a sounding board for what approach you should take – even if you are broke and rich.
Ultimately, talking to your parents about money is meant to be tricky. After all, they remember when you were a child or a tempestuous teenager. The key is to go slow, start by asking for their advice and then listen. Doing so will allow you to build up trust and eventually get them to see that you can make good decisions when it comes to money. Once you have achieved this, then you can start probing your parents about their financial plans.