By Benjamin Temin
Welcome back for the final installment of our series, “Let’s Talk About Money.” Thank you for sticking around! We began by discussing the self-knowledge needed to start the journey towards financial wellness. Then we explored strategies and tips for having healthy and productive money conversations with our partners, young children, and teens. In this article we will address talking with our older and aging loved ones about money and financial issues.
While it holds true in any conversation, when talking with older adults it is very important to be sensitive, respectful, and an attentive listener. Be sensitive by choosing a private and comfortable setting. Be respectful by honoring their life experience. Listen carefully because you may just learn something!
With that in mind, here are a couple of specific tips:
- Be curious and ask for advice. Pose a question like “Now that we have a child, I’ve heard it’s a good idea to write a will and keep it current. How did you and dad go about that process when you were younger? How often do you update yours?” This tactic serves two purposes – first to gain information about what to do yourself, and second, to breach the topic of an older loved one’s financial plan in a non-threatening way.
- Make it about more than money. There are broader topics that can be a great springboard for discussion, such as what are their priorities for retirement, what are their concerns about aging, what do they most enjoy doing? When the answers to those questions become clearer, then it is possible to have very productive and practical conversations around money management, housing, and healthcare.
Some financial discussions can be interesting and light, and other times they may be difficult. Either way, they are extraordinarily important.
For kids, teens, and young adults, money is something they are learning about and gaining experience managing. For older people, their financial situation may represent the fruits of their careers, life endeavors, goals, and aspirations. It is high stakes and personal.
I hope you enjoyed our series, “Let’s Talk About Money.” Remember, the first step towards financial wellness is having these critical conversations with ourselves and our loved ones.
Benjamin Temin is a Coordinator for Economic Sufficiency at Jewish Community Services
JCS is a comprehensive human services organization providing a broad range of services that meet the diverse, multi-dimensional needs of individuals and families throughout Central Maryland. To learn more, visit jcsbalt.org or 410-466-9200.