When it comes to money, Mother may not necessarily know best, but she’s more willing to talk about it: Fidelity
I remember when my first son was three years old, and in the “why” stage of development, we had a lengthy conversation about ATMs.
“Why do we need to go to the bank?”
“Why do you put money in the bank?”
“Why do you need to save?”
Why, why, why, and before I knew it I was trying to explain to this tot the concept of interest, paying for a mortgage, budgeting – and yes, asking myself the whole time why I was trying to answer these questions with any depth when he was only 3.
Since then we’ve had a lot of follow-up conversations as his little mind tried to grasp through repetition these financial concepts, and I tried to impart financial lessons to keep in check the also-growing consumerism that seems to accelerate when kids enter kindergarten.
But what I’ve come to realize is that having simple conversations about even complex ideas on money has built a foundation for us talking about these issues that I hope will carry into his adult years. Because in addition to wanting to raise a responsible adult, I recognize that the time will come when I will need him, and his siblings, to understand my finances and estate, and execute them on my behalf. I want them to know my values and feelings about these matters, and to be able to take care of them for me if I need assistance.
It’s in these early developmental years, when as moms we are inundated with our children’s “why,” “what if,” and “why not” questions, that we form not only our paths of communication, but the style in which we interact. A recent Fidelity study on intergenerational conversations about healthcare needs and retirement expenses reinforced in my mind how important it is to establish clear connections with our kids early on.
According to the Fidelity study, mothers tend to have substantially more detailed conversations on these topics than do fathers. For example, 79 percent of moms said they’d had comprehensive discussions with their adult children about estate planning or wills, compared with 69 percent of fathers. They also talked more about health and eldercare (66 percent vs. 56 percent) and the ability to cover living expenses in retirement (70 percent vs. 55 percent).
Mothers also find it easier to talk with their adult children about issues surrounding their personal economy. Starting a conversation about savings and investments is “not at all difficult,” according 64 percent of mothers surveyed vs. 54 percent of dads.
Moms also tend to see themselves as “empathizers,” whereas dads tend to categorize themselves as “pragmatists.” As a result, Fidelity said, adult children who speak with their moms tend to get more details on their parents’ retirement plans, and may be better prepared to avoid miscommunication in the future.
For example, more mothers plan to have an adult child care for them if they become ill, while fathers count more on their spouse. More fathers worry that their spouse won’t be financial ready if they pass away first – an important difference to note when speaking with parents about their financial future.
The Fidelity researchers spoke with parents who were at least 55 years of age, have an adult child older than 30, and have investible assets of at least $100,000. Their children qualified to participate in the research if they were at least 30 years of age, had money saved in an IRA, 401(k) or other investment account, and had at least $10,000 saved.
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