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Whether you have your financial house in order or you’re still learning to manage your money, you might find yourself in the position of taking charge of your parent’s finances.
If you think you and your parents are too young to worry about their financial futures, please reconsider.
While we all hope our moms and dads live long and healthy lives, you probably know someone who’s already lost a parent. Or someone who has a parent needing some level of support from their children.
And the older everyone gets, the sooner your parents may need help.
But talking about your parents' financial situation can be a really challenging conversation – which is why many people avoid it. Not only is money a taboo topic in many families, but aging is too.
That’s why it’s incredibly important to have helpful resources available like Cameron Huddleston’s new book, MOM and DAD, We Need to Talk.
Having Financial Conversations
And some parents are reluctant to discuss their finances with their children even when they know they should.
There are also people who simply assume they have more time and are caught by surprise when something bad happens.
Having essential conversations with your parents before a difficult diagnosis or a life-altering event allows you to plan for the future without being in crisis – reducing the emotions involved.
But I admit from my own experience – it’s easier said than done.
My mother just turned 80 and my father is 88 and has Alzheimer's. He’s been in assisted living for the last 18 months after my mother cared for him at home for more than five years.
We’ve had the conversations Cameron talks about in her book – and we’re still having some of them. And we started them more than a decade ago.
I only wish I would have had a comprehensive resource like MOM and Dad, We Need to Talk, back then. But I’m really glad I have it now because I’m going to use some of what I learned reading it to help my mom make decisions about the future.
Why Read, MOM and DAD, We Need to Talk
Cameron’s had these tough conversations too – and she almost missed them thinking she had more time. While her mother also suffers from Alzheimer’s, don’t think your parent has to be sick to have these talks.
There are numerous stories throughout the book of adult children struggling to obtain information about their parent’s finances when they needed help for a variety of reasons.
Along with sharing plenty of stories you’ll connect with, Cameron cites research and provides plenty of evidence for what she suggests you do when you have “the talk” with your parents.
At the end of each chapter, you’ll also find advice and action steps to take so you’ll have productive conversations with your parents.
Cameron also offers downloadable materials on her website, along with video tutorials with tips on how to apply some of the advice in the book.
Brief Overview of Topics Covered
There are seventeen chapters in MOM and DAD, We Need to Talk – followed by eight pages of additional resources to help you work through difficult discussions.
The most important thing you’ll learn is how to get over the fear of bringing up your parent’s finances and why it’s important not to wait. One big takeaway? You could really be jeopardizing your own financial future if you put it off.
Helping You All
Your parents may be reluctant to talk for a number of reasons – and if you put yourself in their “shoes” you’ll understand why.
A loss of independence, a lack of trust, mismanaging their money, aging, sickness, and death is already a lot for them to think about.
They know turning back the clock isn’t an option while fast-forwarding to the future isn’t a journey they want any part of either.
Knowing this, you’ll practice what you can to show empathy but still make progress in addressing their financial situation.
And if you can’t make progress with your parents, you’ll at least see what’s in store for you if they need help and there's no legal paperwork in place.
Including your siblings from the start and managing sibling discussions is also covered. Cameron provides you with questions to ask yourself as you prepare for these conversations.
Ten different conversation starters are offered, along with explanations on when they are most effective. You’ll also learn when is the best time to have these talks.
Cameron also shares what not to say to your parents and how the language you use can invite parents into conversations or shut them down.
One chapter provides a step-by-step example of having a successful talk with your parents – on their timeline – and why that’s so important. Cameron also explains what to do when your parents won’t engage in talks about their finances.
Discussing different estate planning documents, long-term care, and moving from their homes are covered over the next few chapters.
Suggestions on referring your parents to their physician, attorney, and financial professionals will help take the focus off you simply wanting the information. It shifts the focus to them to plan for their future and share their wishes.
Cameron also shares why our parents are at risk for scams and losing substantial amounts of money. And you may not have realized what they might fall for and why – even after you’ve warned them.
MOM and DAD, We Need to Talk gives examples of what you’ll need to do to help keep your parents – and their money – safe.
Cameron wraps up the book with thoughts on how you need to “pay it forward” and talk to your own kids about your finances as all of you age.
By focusing on your own finances, saving for retirement, planning for long-term care, and preparing emergency documents – you’ll save your kids from having to start these discussions with you.
Find Out More About Cameron Huddleston
Cameron was 35 when her mother first started showing memory problems. She and her husband, with three small children at the time, worked full-time and had to start taking care of her mother too.
Cameron’s been there. She’s had these tough discussions with her Mom – and she almost missed out on the chance. She’s also learned from her mistakes and her experiences. And she’s sharing it all with you in her book.
Get your copy of MOM and Dad, We Need to Talk here.
Read more about Cameron, view other resources, and check out her blog.
This book review was written by Vicki, co-founder of Women Who Money and Women’s Money Talk, and founder of Make Smarter Decisions.