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Marion Syversen Marion Syversen
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The money talk

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The money talk The money talk

The family is gathered around the table and there is mostly - joy and happiness. But there are things missing. Communications that would be better to have when everyone is near. Money discussions.

A recent study found that many of us are not talking about money, and our families are bearing the brunt of our silence. It's certainly a delicate and private discussion, but it's really important. Work your way into some of these suggested topics. And remember - you really, really love each other.

Talk about retirement  When and where do you plan to retire? You probably know generally when you want to stop working - at least as much as you work at present. And you probably know where you want to go. Problem is, the kids may have no idea about your plans. They should probably know at least a bit about your future hopes and dreams, and family gatherings may be a time to broach the money topic. 

The expression 'Man plans and God laughs' comes to mind, as we don't know what our future actually holds. In fact, according to a recent survey, less than one in four surveyed over the age of 50 say they would be prepared financially if they or their spouse were forced to retire early due to health issues. But we may live to 80, 90 or 100, and the family would benefit from knowing what you are thinking about your future. 

Talk about support  More than two-thirds of parents have given adult children money in the last five years for a car payment, school loan, rent or phone. Some surveyed gave the money and had no idea on what it was being spent. The average amount of support is about $15,000. 

The current economic conditions have left many of us with what are called 'boomerang children,' our adult kids back home or at least financially dependent. This has made concentrating on our own retirement and saving requirements elusive. 

Talk about life's surprises  Only about a third of baby boomers, those ages 47-67, say they feel prepared for retirement IF everything goes according to plan. But life is full of surprises, and some of them are not happy ones. 

Even so, family discussions at least in general on your important decisions would be a help to your loved ones. I know this is private. But how did you feel, how would you have felt, as a child of your parents, to have been completely shut out from their plans and goals? Fifty-six percent of parents have not discussed wills, advanced directives and inheritance plans with their children. Please don't think what I am suggesting is that you are seeking their approval or their permission. But you are still a parent. These are your children. This is your beloved family. Help teach them how to manage life in love and respect.

What's the solution - For those of us over 50, it's important to remember that you never stop being a parent. You need to teach, love, perhaps to draw some boundaries. You need to get some clarify in your own mind as to your retirement planning, your budget, saving and spending plan. You need to determine the end to the financial support you give to adult kids. 

YOU need to save more. YOU need to have a plan for your retirement. And you need to allow your kids to plan that the support stops in three months from now or six months from now or whatever. It has to stop, or what's going to happen to you? And what's going to happen to them if they never struggle, work things out, find a way to manage? How prepared will they be to manage their own kids and their path in life when you are gone? Your role was always to help them be independent and free. Well, let them be free and independent. Even when watching them struggle is hard.

Whatever your age (perhaps you are helping your parents), ignore the rest of the family's expectations and make a path for your own independence. If you've been the careful saver, or have been blessed with a more-than-normal income, please make sure that you keep the hardships of family in mind. But also make your own plan.

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