Thursday, July 30, 2009

Talking about money with aging parents

My parents have recently retired and moved across country to a city where they don't know anyone.

That decision caused my sister and me quite a bit of stress, as we felt that our parents were making many poor financial decisions:

  • Selling their (former) home at the bottom of the market, in one of the worst-hit real estate markets in the country
  • My mom quit an excellent job in her field and filed for Social Security at the earliest possible date
  • Stopping contributions to, and preparing to withdraw income from, retirement accounts that are down about 40% of their value prior to late last year
  • Considering buying a home in a new-construction development that was barely started, when the market is glutted with unsold homes

Each of these decisions is the exact opposite of the financial advice aimed at those of retirement age.

In addition, they left an active social life with a group of family and friends to move to a city where they don't know a soul.

Thankfully, they did decide to rent a house for a year to see whether they like their new location before buying a home.

My sister and I had several conversations with my parents to try and encourage them to learn more about the current financial climate and the steps they could take to secure their financial future long-term, rather than just continuing with plans made before the bubble burst.

Although my kids are still very young, I feel that these futile conversations gave me insight into the frustrations of dealing with stubborn teenagers who refuse to acknowledge or consider any viewpoints besides their own!

It was finally my brother who stepped in an gave me a word to the wise: "All you can do is all you can do." I've said my peace, I've sent them financial literature, I've recommended that they see a financial planner. I've done all I can do.

My focus needs to be on frugal living and family financial management for my own little family- my husband and our two kids.

I'm happy to share what I've learned about those topics with anyone who is interested but I certainly can't force my parents or anyone else to make the choices that I would make. I also need to learn to accept things I cannot change, rather than letting them cause me undue stress!
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1 comments:

Melissa said...

You're right on target with this. You can give suggestions and provide information, but you can't make them do anything.

Another suggestion might be for your parents to collect their financial information in one place, whether they keep it at their home or give it to you. In the event that they're not able to handle their own affairs, you won't have to hunt down all the information. I've seen a great binder system for doing just this ... but I can't remember the name of it!

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