How to deal with uncomfortable money problems with your family
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The coronavirus pandemic can put you in uncomfortable financial situations with your family.
A family member may have applied for a loan, or your young adult child may be looking to return home. You might be struggling financially and haven’t brought it up with your kids, or you might be thinking about estate planning, but you don’t know how to bring it up.
Instead of avoiding the problem, there’s no better time to fix it than now, said Winne Sun, co-founder and CEO of Irvine, Calif.-Based Sun Group Wealth Partners.
“Bringing money with the family can be uncomfortable and even considered taboo because it is not a normal conversation that is brought up,” she said.
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While it is easier to talk about your finances with financial professionals, we try to keep the peace with family, have lighter conversations, and talk about things that we think will unite us, have she explained.
“However, having these more intimate financial discussions can actually bring your family closer together.”
Almost half of all Americans 47%, struggle discuss finances with loved ones, according to a November 2019 survey conducted by Lincoln Financial. Personal finances were the third most difficult topic for families, behind sex and death, according to the survey.
It’s easy to leave things unresolved when things are going well, said Sarah Newcomb, director of behavioral science at Morningstar.
When money gets tight or life gets unpredictable, there’s always room for disagreement, she said. The same is true when you combine financial lives, like after a wedding or when a young adult returns home.
“When our financial lives are separated from each other, there is no need for conflict, but once someone else’s management style starts to affect your own financial goals, there is risk. conflict, ”Newcomb explained.
While it might seem like a good idea to tackle money matters during the family holiday meal – don’t, said Cameron Huddleston, author of “Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk” and financial expert. family with Carefull, an app that monitors and protects the money of aging parents.
On the one hand, there may be people in the meeting who don’t need to be part of the conversation, she said. Then there is the alcohol component.
“If someone has drunk too much wine, the conversation could go down very quickly,” she said. “And some family reunions are already tense.
“So the last thing you want to do is start talking about money to turn the heat up.”
If you are visiting your parents or your grown children are in town and need to talk, at least wait until after your meal. Find a time when you can sit down and have a chat “when you’re all relaxed and the emotions aren’t too strong,” Huddleston said.
Here’s how you can deal with some of the most uncomfortable financial issues that can arise with your family.
Loan or financial support requests
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It is never easy to deal with a family member who asks for money to pay bills or to a loan to get them through a difficult time.
“If you don’t feel comfortable lending or supporting someone financially, you shouldn’t,” said Sun, a member of CNBC’s Council of Financial Advisors.
“If you do decide to lend to your family, you should assume that there is a possibility that you will never get your money back.”
About 60% of Americans have loaned money to a family member or friend, hoping to be paid back, according to a 2019 survey by Bankrate. However, 37% of those who faced cash said they lost money and 21% said the personal relationship had deteriorated.
Give an honest answer quickly so the family member can turn around and look for other resources to help them, Sun advises. You can even present them to a banking contact or co-sign a loan with an institution you’re comfortable with. If you need it quickly.
Don’t worry if you say “no”. Managing money is emotional, Newcomb said. Remember that you must not interfere with your own financial stability.
“Recognize that saying ‘no’ is the merciful thing to do for yourself and it is OK,” she said. “There is nothing wrong with protecting your own creditworthiness.”
Adult children at home
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Young adults are moving home to live with mom and dad in record numbers.
In July, 52% of them were living with one or both parents, up from 47% in February, according to a Pew Research Center Analysis. This exceeds the peak reached during the Great Depression, Pew said.
Parents should talk to their children about their contribution to the household. Some may contribute financially to the budget, if they are employed, or they may use the time to accumulate savings so that when they move out, they are financially secure.
If your adult child is not making any income or putting their money aside in a savings account, there are other ways to get them to contribute to the household.
It may mean cooking meals to ease someone else’s burden or provide childcare or help young siblings virtual learning, Newcomb said.
“They put their resources, their creativity at the forefront,” she explained. “They give home.”
Spending money on the ‘wrong’ thing
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You might not like the way your 20-year-old daughter spends or your spouse’s financial management style.
Instead of immediately focusing on the numbers, realize there’s a lot more personalization in the way we manage our finances, Newcomb said.
“Every decision people make with their money is a real attempt to meet a real and valid human need,” she explained.
For example, if you see someone spending a lot of money on dating friends, you might view it as irresponsible – or you might say that they really put their social relationships first.
The ultimate goal is to come up with a strategy where the needs of all family members are met. It may mean finding a way to meet that need in a way that can cost less. So if feeling a sense of beauty is essential for you, instead of buying shiny items, take a bubble bath or do a pedicure.
“You also need security, you also need stability,” Newcomb said. “You are not meeting one need at the expense of another.”
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Estate planning is one of the most important financial conversations you should have with your family, Sun said.
Sun suggests finding a reason to bring up the conversation, such as a family member or friend going through it or an article you read about it.
Children who wish to bring up the subject with their parents should find a quiet and relaxed place to do so.
“Just say, ‘we should figure this out together, because I want to make sure I know what you think about this and what you would like,” ”Sun said.
“Let your parents lead the conversation and know that it doesn’t have to happen after Thanksgiving dinner, but it should spark conversation for future conversations.”
If you are a parent who wants to tell your adult children about your plans, keep in mind that your child probably doesn’t want to talk about your age or your death.
Let them know that it is important to you that your children, and perhaps your grandchildren, keep what you have saved for them.
“Let them know that there are still decisions to be made and that you want them to be part of the conversation and take a break,” Sun said.
“At this point, let them respond and listen to their responses,” she added. “It will help start the conversation.”
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