Boomer couples: When it comes to money matters, talk it out
The most recent findings from the Money Across Generations IISM * study found that men and women generally agree when it comes to supporting their family members financially. Whew! However, when it comes to communicating about finances, women are more likely to have the money talk. But though men may be staying mum – more often than not, they are the ones pulling out their wallets.
It may seem that as long as a couple agrees on what kind of support they’ll lend a parent or child in need – and for some that can be half the battle – neither person is in the wrong. So what’s the issue? Unfortunately when one person tends to default to a specific action, whether that’s having a conversation or writing a check, there may be conflict or misunderstandings to some degree.
“Dad, can I have some money?”
Offering financial help to family members may take care of a short-term issue, but avoiding conversations or failing to set expectations can leave room for confusion. Before money exchanges hands, there’s another important party men (and women, for that matter) should speak to – their spouses. As baby boomers approach retirement, they’re likely sitting on a nest egg that may be tapped in the next decade. Making sure both spouses are on the same page regarding the kind of support they are lending – and to what extent – is crucial.
“But mom said…”
Talking about money issues is difficult – and often, so are family dynamics. Put them together and financial conversations can quickly derail due to heightened emotions. Since women tend to engage in more money talks with their parents and children, they should ensure they’ve elicited their spouse’s perspective before the conversation occurs. Partners may even want to consider documenting their decisions, reasoning and guidelines for any kind of financial support they’re providing a family member. As time goes by, it can be easy to forget who said what and what terms everyone agreed upon. A written plan or agreement can be a handy reminder.
Keep in mind that these guidelines aren’t limited to couples. Research reveals that boomers’ daughters are supporting their parents – and that boomers are more likely to be talking to their adult children about finances – than they were just five years ago. When times are tight, all this money talk can create tension; approximately half (49%) of boomers’ adult children say that conversations with their parents at least occasionally cause tension. When money and words are exchanged, it’s crucial that both parties understand each other’s perspective and have a chance to voice their ideas.
It’s easy to get tied up in the emotions of family money matters. If financial conversations and decisions about funding the needs of family members are difficult for your family, consider soliciting objective advice from a financial professional. Third party advice can help you stick to the numbers and make a solid plan that all members of the family agree on.
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