I don’t know about you, but my teenage years were full of uncomfortable conversations with my parents. Time inevitably adds perspective to these conversations. It is easy to look back and see the value, but I distinctly remember finding these conversations tedious and awkward. I would have rather mowed the lawn any day than have another conversation about the birds and the bees with dear ole Mom. I came across a really interesting study done by T. Rowe Price recently. Click here to see the full survey details.
I am an analytical nerd so seeing this is almost (but not quite) better than reading the latest Walking Dead comic. I was really shocked to find that 1/3 of the parents surveyed avoided talking to their kids about family finances. I was floored when I read that ¾ of parents reported not telling the truth to their children about money-related questions with 15% doing so weekly. When compared to other topics that often fall into the “uncomfortable conversation” category, parents have a tough time talking about finances. In fact, they have an easier time discussing smoking, drugs, and bullying rather than family finance and investing.
I was looking to find out why money is such an uncomfortable topic. As it turns out, 39% of parents didn’t feel as if they received a good financial education from their parents. Perhaps the apple isn’t falling far from the tree there. Also parents have loads of financial regrets about their own childhoods and may feel hypocritical giving advice when they made mistakes previously. Finance applies to everything. From credit cards, cell phones, computers, and savings accounts. So how can we make it more comfortable for parents to have quality conversations about these topics and give honest answers? Here are my suggestions:
1. Take the Initiative and Ask
Don’t feel bad about asking either. This stuff is important to know. Your parents have experience with it. You may just surprise your parents with your new found level of maturity. If your parents are uncomfortable going into specifics of their own financial situation, ask them if they know of any resources that can help get you the answers to your questions.
2. Cut Them a Little Slack
It is their job to try to keep you from making the same mistakes that they have made. Understand that your parents are only human, and any advice comes from a place with nothing but good intentions.
3. Listen to Their Advice
Now, here is where I will add a caveat. I am a big believer in listening to advice from more experienced folks however; it is your life and ultimately, your financial future. That is why I am always willing to listen, but I reserve the right to not take the advice if it doesn’t work for my situation.
Have you had a good financial conversation with your parents? How did it start?