Sure, talking to just about anyone about money matters can quickly turn awkward, and chatting with your folks can be particularly tricky because of mixed emotions or hidden expectations. However, it’s definitely worth the effort to reach out to them and broach the topic. We’ve recently talked about how you can help your parents manage their money online, but let’s flip the script and go through a few things you can learn from them about money and finances.
To glean insights on your money habits and attitudes
A study reveals that many of our habits are formed by the age of 7, when our malleable selves are shaped by those who raise us. By having deep discussions with your parents, you’ll be able to glean insights on why you might fall prey to shopping gimmicks or feel frantic and unprepared when hit by a financial hardship.
Maybe your parents grew up with a scarcity money mindset and pinched pennies. To counter that, you might subconsciously splurge as a small act of rebellion. Or perhaps a bighearted parent liked to play the role of a humanitarian, giving away money they might be able to afford to, and you find yourself following in their footsteps?
You can even probe a little deeper and learn about your grandparents’ experiences and behaviors about money, which may in turn help you better understand where your parents’ mindsets originated from. Gaining this self-awareness is a great first step in making changes in your own spending habits and patterns.
To help you figure out what you want out of life
By learning about how your folks went about making major decisions relating to money, you’ll be able to figure out what you do—and don’t—want out of life. Do they hold more traditional values, and a life well lived to them equates to a house and 2.5 children? Or do they lean more bohemian, and espouse a lifestyle based on experiences? And how are your values and goals different? Perhaps you aspire to be a digital nomad, or maybe raising a family of your own is more your speed?
If you’re mulling over a big decision yourself, such a buying a house or moving to another city, talk to them about their experiences during times of major change. What advice do they have for you for balancing buying a house and debt and retirement? How can you learn from their past wins and fails?
While this may be easier said than done, instead of coming from a place of resistance, try to really listen to your parents and see them as fellow adults instead of draconian lawmakers enforcing societal norms on you. That way, you’ll be able to learn something valuable from your folks.
To learn about their expectations
What are their expectations when one of them falls ill? Will you be responsible for taking care of them, or will responsibilities be shared among your siblings? Are they set up with a comfortable nest egg in retirement, or will they be asking you for help? Do they have a will in place? If so, who is their power of attorney?
While these are tough things to talk about, sparking a conversation now will help you be better prepared when these situations do arise. If you don’t see eye-to-eye on a particular matter, it’s a prime opportunity to clear the air of any differences in expectations and iron out ambiguities.
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