Talking Finances with Your Family Doesn’t Have to be Scary!
March 6, 2017
Thank you to TIAA for sponsoring this blog post. All opinions are my own.
Talking finances with your family doesn’t have to be scary! TIAA recently invited families, including our own to sit down and have a conversation about money to show that it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable or stressful. Today I’ll share with you my family’s experiences talking finances.
But before I share with you all the details of my family’s experience talking finances, you may be wondering, who is TIAA.
Who is TIAA?
Nearly 100 years ago, TIAA was created to ensure teachers could retire with dignity. Today, TIAA is a unique financial partner that helps millions of people who work at nonprofits, including academic, research, medical, government and cultural fields, to achieve financial well-being. TIAA offers a wide range of financial solutions, including investing, banking, advice and guidance, and retirement services.
It was a pleasure to partner with TIAA on its Family Money Matters Program to bring to light to the importance of talking finances as a family. I’m sure you’ll agree, money is an integral part of the decisions we make as a family. Talking about those decisions is just as important!
An Important Conversation That Isn’t Happening
We all know that family financial conversations are important, but it isn’t something families do regularly, at least not in our family.
In a recent survey conducted by TIAA, parents and adult children both agreed that having conversations with their families about financial issues was important. The survey showed that four out of five adult children think that talking about financial issues with their parents is important and more than two-thirds of parents think that talking about financial issues with their children is important too.
I’d have to agree that having conversations with my family about money issues is important. However, I think the true problem for families, mine included, is not knowing where to start.
This same survey also revealed that while most parents and adult children agree that having detailed financial conversations with family is important (74 percent and 87 percent, respectively), far fewer are taking the time to talk about it – just 37 percent of adult children and 11 percent of parents. The lack of financial conversations between family members, particularly between family members of different generations, could leave them unprepared for the future and ill-equipped to handle unexpected events.
Wouldn’t you agree?
About Our Participation In TIAA’s Family Money Matters Program
We all worry about the future, especially our financial future as we get older. These thoughts have been on my mind for quite some time, and especially as my parents recently entered retirement. I often wonder if as a family unit we are truly financially ready for the future.
That being said, you can imagine how happy I was to take on this opportunity when TIAA reached out to me. I figured this would be the perfect time to get the entire family talking finances!
To get started talking finances I invited my family (my husband, adult son, and retired parents) out to a casual meal, something we often do as a family anyway.
Talking Finances With My Family
To help us get started talking finances TIAA shared a list of conversation starters that truly helped break the barrier. I found this list of questions to be quite helpful. Being well prepared actually put me at ease as I was leading my family’s financial conversation.
Not knowing what to ask and how to ask it can be quite uncomfortable when talking about finances. But with TIAA’s conversation starters, I was well prepared and knew exactly what to ask and how to ask it. The TIAA conversation starters are available in two sets, one set of questions for parents to ask their adult children and another set of questions for adult children to ask their parents.
I found TIAA’s conversation starters to be the perfect addition to our financial family conversation. Truly a great way to help get us started talking finances. You can access the TIAA Starter Kit for yourself by clicking here.
TIAA’s list of questions For Adult Children to Ask Parents includes questions such as, “How well do you think our family communicates about finances?” and “What is your most important piece of financial advice for me/us?” These were great initial questions to get my family started talking finances.
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What I Discovered By Talking Finances
I would say that as a family we are usually pretty open about talking finances but I discovered that it was the lack of the right conversations that was holding us back from really getting down to the financial ‘nitty-gritty’. Like most families, we agreed that having detailed financial conversations is important, we just weren’t talking finances often enough or asking the right questions.
It was interesting for me to find out that my parents, although they felt prepared for retirement, looking back now wished they would have prepared more, worked longer, saved more.
When it comes to finances, I would say that my husband and I are very open — we share a checkbook, we pool our money, we share the financial responsibilities equally — so it was also eye-opening for me to discover that my husband and I see debt in different ways.
I always considered us to be debt-free since we don’t have outstanding credit card debt and rarely use our credit cards. Yet I discovered that our large mortgage is a real concern for my husband. He sees this as a huge debt and something that he wishes we could pay down faster. To him, our debt puts us in a “financially-strapped” position. A term I would have never used to describe our family’s financial situation. Shocker!
I also discovered that our adult son truly does want our financial advice. As parents, I feel that we often nag him about how he spends his money. I also felt like he wasn’t listening whenever we did have the advice to give. During our conversation, I discovered that our words of wisdom really do matter to him and that he does look to us as a source of guidance when planning for his financial future.
You can see some of our family’s financial conversation featured in TIAA’s video “Family Money Matters“.
My Family’s Next Steps
In the end, my family walked away from the table (literally) with a better idea of where we stand financially.
We realized that we need to have these type of family financial conversations more often, and on a more regular basis. So much so that during our conversation we came up with the idea of having a financial family night — a time when we could meet regularly to talk family finances. We know that these important conversations need to happen, now we are going to make sure that they do!
My husband and I decided that from now on we will both take on more active roles in our finances, including scheduling bill payments and looking at our actual total debt together to find better ways to pay it down. Although we share a checkbook, until now, It had been mostly me opening that checkbook and writing out those checks. We decided that to stay on the same page this is a task that we need to tackle together. For us, that’s a huge step towards preparing for our family’s financial future!
As for my retired parents, we agreed that they need to begin thinking about actually planning out their will and getting it down on paper. That’s a very important step for them to take as they grow older. It’s also something we all feel strongly about since they insist on contributing to their grandchildren’s financial future.
My son, he’s still young but he’s now more aware of what he needs to do to ensure a healthy financial future. I’m so glad that we can lead by example as his parents and include him in our family’s financial conversations.
Have the Conversation with your Family Today!
Talking finances may not be easy but it can help ensure your family’s financial future! Having a financial plan and communicating it to those you love, can be a powerful tool in preparing for your financial future and theirs. To be honest, I wish my family would have had this family financial conversation sooner.
Remember, talking finances with your family doesn’t have to be scary! Download TIAA’s conversation starters. Then show us how you use them to get your family talking about finances. Share with us on your favorite social media channel, use the hashtag #familymoneymatters, and tag @TIAA and @NYCTechMommy. Can’t wait to hear about your experiences!
Talking money with your family is important! Next time I’ll share with you 5 tips to get your family talking about finances. Stay tuned!
Are you and your family talking finances? What do you think are some of your biggest challenges talking finances? What makes it scary? Let me know in the comments sections below. Thanks for reading and I hope my family’s experience will motivate you to get started talking finances with your own family!
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