The Importance of Talking with Your Parents About Retirement

As we get older the parent-child relationship changes: it can become more of a friendship and in some cases, parents and children completely reverse roles. If your parents have already taken the time to speak to you about the steps they have taken towards retirement planning, consider yourself fortunate. If they haven’t, and you are in communication with them, you should consider talking to them about their financial future.

Parents may assume that their children don’t want to talk about finances and children may feel presumptuous asking about their parents’ money. One thing you might want to do is take it a bit at a time; initiating a series of conversations may be better than trying to talk about everything at once. 

In “How to Talk to Your Parents About Their Money,” Wall Street Journal reporter Jeff Opdyke relates his experience with helping the grandmother who raised him. Opdyke says it’s important to pay attention to what is going on with your parents. He saw magazines that didn’t fit his grandmother’s tastes and after talking with her, he discovered that a telemarketer had taken advantage of her. After that, they spoke more about her finances and his grandmother and aunt approached him when they were considering a reverse mortgage.

Eleanor Blayney, CFP®, who offers suggestions in  ”‘The Talk’- discussing the financial facts of life,” thinks that avoiding “the talk” may cause problems later, so better to do it, even if it is awkward. She suggests you “emphasize that you care about the other’s wellbeing” and consider opening up about your own financial planning efforts.

If talking about money really proves difficult, Blayney adds that you can write a letter, but that you should make sure it is clear you are not “trying to begin an official paper trail.”

Whether conversations about money are contentious or calm in your family, you can follow Blayney’s advice and “consider using a third-party as a neutral facilitator for a family conversion about money. A CFP® (Certified Financial Planner) professional who offers personal financial planning would be a suitable expert to guide this conversation…”




About the author

Claire Emory, MBA, CFA, CFP®

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