Tax Season 101

10 Money Conversations Everyone Should Have

Essential talks to have with your spouse, your kids, and your parents.

By Walecia Konrad
Illustration of people talking about moneyWesley Bedrosian

Conversations to Have With Your Parents


Do You Have Enough to Retire Comfortably?

Why it’s important: Thirty percent of adult children contribute to their parents’ finances, according to the Pew Research Center, an independent research organization in Washington, D.C. With many people living into their 80s and beyond, it is more likely than ever that retirees will outlive their savings.

The ideal time to talk: It’s never too early. If your parents seem too young or are already retired, discuss long-term planning.

What to do first: Check with your siblings to see if they have had similar conversations with your folks. It might be best to have just one adult child make the approach. The retirement calculator at bankrate.com can estimate how large a nest egg your parents will need in their retirement years.

How to bring it up: Gently. Having a context for the conversation helps: “Mom, I noticed that you were careful at the grocery store. I don’t want you worrying about money during retirement.” Remember: “It may take more than one try,” says Virginia Morris, author of How to Care for Aging Parents ($13, amazon.com). “Often parents don’t want to talk with kids about finances.”
 
 

Have You Thought About Long-Term Care Insurance?

Why it’s important: The average cost for a private room in a nursing home can reach $75,000 a year; home health-care costs can be $200 a day. Long-term-care insurance pays these expenses.

The ideal time to talk: When your parents are in their late 50s or early 60s and in good health. That is when they will be most likely to find an affordable policy.

What to do first: Search for and print out articles on the subject so you can present the facts clearly. (Here are several good ones: Long-Term Insurance Information.) For a sense of potential costs and insurance benefits, check out the LTC Insurance Evaluator tool at smartmoney.com.

How to bring it up: Use your grandparents as an excuse, suggests Marilee Kern Driscoll, founder of the e-newsletter Long-Term Care Planning Month (ltcmonth.com). Say something like “Mom, remember what you went through with Grandma when she was in the nursing home? She had to pay an awful lot of money out of her own pocket. Have you made any plans if that should happen to you or Dad down the road?” If your own family doesn’t fit this scenario, mention one of your friends who has gone through a similar situation with her grandparents or parents. Then follow up by sharing the articles you printed out.
 
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