Thanksgiving means many different things for each of us. For some it is a time to reflect on the things in life that mean so much, while others relegate the holiday to a time of feasting and football. As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, we thought it might be a great time to talk a little bit of turkey and perhaps offer some interesting suggestions on how to use this holiday to discuss important financial considerations with your loved ones. You might think that mixing financial discussions and the holidays will create a recipe for family squabbles; however, we would argue that the holidays are a perfect time to start the dialogue of many important financial discussions. Here are a few conversation starters to consider.
Older parents – The holidays are the perfect time to reflect on the many happy memories you have shared as a family, but they also provide a wonderful opportunity to talk to your parents about their wishes as they grow older. Do they want to continue to live in their home and are there sufficient financial resources to accommodate this wish? Who is best suited to help them with financial decisions in the future? Have they updated their estate planning documents to incorporate their wishes? Many people don’t take the time to ask these important questions, however, if done with sensitivity they can be a wonderful way to honor your parents’ wishes and alleviate arguments later.
Adult siblings – Many family feuds start over financial disagreements. Siblings can sometimes feel a sense of competition – either with each other or for the attention of their parents. These competitive tendencies do not always go away as they grow older. The holidays are a great time to bury the hatchet and move forward in one accord. Consider taking some time to discuss plans for caring for your parents as they get older. Who will be in charge of their financial matters and what role will each sibling play? One of the best gifts adult children can give their parents is harmony in their relationships. A bit of discussion about important financial considerations can go a long way in fostering harmony.
College aged children – For many parents with college aged students, the Thanksgiving holiday is the first time they have seen their child since the fall semester started. This makes it a great time to reconnect and discuss the future. Take some time to discover what your child plans to do upon graduation. Will they get a job right away or do they wish to travel a bit? What are their strategies for paying off student loans and other college debts? These adult conversations will help define expectations, and get a better understanding of your child’s hopes, plans and dreams as they move in the next chapter of their lives.
Teenagers – Many teenagers are completely unaware of the concept of financial planning. Often, they are just starting their first jobs and are getting a taste of what it means to bring home a paycheck. Take some time over the holidays to determine your teenager’s plans after they graduate from high school. If they want to go to college, help them formulate an action plan to finance their education. Ask your student to be an active participant in the planning process so that they are aware of the value of their education and how important it is to continue working hard through their college years. If they do not have college plans, work with them to create a road map for life after high school.
Young children – Thanksgiving is the gateway to the Christmas holidays. As any parent can attest, Christmas can often mean overspending and breaking the budget. Thanksgiving provides the opportunity for wonderful teachable moments to discuss budgeting, charitable giving, wants and needs and helping your child fine tune their gift list.
At Financial Fiduciaries, we are so thankful that each of our clients has entrusted us with the important matter of helping them manage their financial future. We hope that you will use your time this Thanksgiving to start some rich financial dialogue with your loved ones that will allow each of you to continue building a bright financial path.