Never discuss politics or religion in polite company – or at least, that’s how it used to be before social media. But would you post on Facebook that you just paid off your mortgage? Probably not. Money also is a taboo subject. Americans are more comfortable talking about marital problems, religion, political views and even death than they are about money. We’ve been conditioned that conversations about money are inappropriate or simply none of your business. Some people experience anxiety, embarrassment or even shame when talking about income or wealth.
Nevertheless, the holidays are a time for families and friends to gather (even virtually) and to catch up. And with this stressful year, you may have a unique and valuable opportunity to have financial discussions.
A recent Mind over Money survey by Capital One and The Decision Lab revealed:
- 77% of participants felt anxious about their financial situation
- 58% felt that finances control their lives
- 68% worry they don’t have enough to retire
- 43% are stressed
Breaking the Money Taboo
It’s important to talk about money regardless of where we are in life. We must reject the taboo and turn money, saving, investing and protecting into conversations so we can be more secure in our futures. In that survey, they found that changing one’s perspective and getting into ‘bigger-picture’ thinking about longer term goals, even for a moment, can lead to healthier behaviors. Goals include retirement, successful children and aging with grace, to name a few. And these people tend to feel greater control, write down their budgets, and save more.
Tips for a smarter money mindset:
- Keep your goals in front of you
- Focus on things you can control and don’t sweat the details
- Cut yourself some slack. Mistakes will happen. Learn from them.
Here are some financial topics to tackle during the holidays with your family in between your favorite working-from-home hack and how hard fractions are (or how much liquor it takes to be a parent).
- When are we going to retire and what do you want it to look like? Negotiate your shared visions of the future and align priorities.
- Where do you keep important documents and passwords? What should you have (e.g. wills, trusts, powers of attorney, life insurance, medical directives, etc.), secure them (including digitally), and location of keys, combinations and passwords. If you had to evacuate your home, what would you grab?
- When is it time to hang up the car keys? Our mental and physical abilities will diminish. Prepare for those transitions. What are the alternative transportation options? What would you wish if you suffered a medical emergency (care, recovery, end-of-life)?
- Can we afford to buy a (larger) house? What are the trade-offs of staying where you’re at or waiting a few more years?
- When do we set the adult kid free (cut the financial umbilical cord)? Does financial support impact your retirement plans? And on the other end, how do you pass on your wealth to them?
- Mom and Dad, tell me about your retirement plan. They don’t want to be a burden on anyone and wish to live with dignity. How secure are they financially? How can we assist in making life easier for them from landscapers to caregivers?
- What is our family retreat or vacation for 2021? The light at the end of the tunnel gets brighter and this pandemic will end. Celebrate it!
Money can be a challenging topic. You can start the conversation with a brilliant quote by Warren Buffett and end it by asking to borrow some money, if you’d like to. The holidays provide us an opportunity to be reunited with our loved ones and have valuable and memorable dialog. May you always have sage advice and secure your future wisely.
This article can also be viewed at the Reno Gazette Journal.