Over the next few weeks, many of us will be meeting with family to celebrate the holidays. Of course, if your family is like mine, these family get-togethers are all about enjoying each other and the conversation rarely wanders into the subject of money. Money is too taboo – too private. When the subject of money comes up, it is often awkward and difficult. I would suggest, however, that the subject of money should come up more often, especially among family members. Passing along the wisdom of money is too often neglected and there is so much to learn from one another. Here are some practical tips to make conversations about money more meaningful in your family.
Consider the venue
It is good to be purposeful about your conversations about money, but these conversations need not be in the form of a formal, stressful meeting. While some prefer a ‘family meeting’ with an agenda and structure, I prefer a more informal approach where the goal is to create an ongoing conversation and openness. Whichever approach you use, have a goal about what you would like to share and find the right time and place that fits your family.
Pass on wisdom
I believe that some of the best parenting comes when we are transparent about our successes and failures. What have you learned about money during your journey? What mistakes did you make? What do you feel you did well? What lessons did you learn? Too often we make plans to leave an inheritance to our children and neglect passing along the wisdom of how to manage money.
Share your heart and your desires
Similarly, it is worth sharing your dreams and desires. What are you saving for and how? What are your financial goals? Not only does this provide a wonderful example, but it also allows you to be open about your situation.
Share your current giving
I am guilty of keeping my giving private, and rightfully so. However, this privacy is a lost opportunity when it comes to family. Again, this is about being an example, but it is also about letting your family be a part of the things you care about. There are so many blessings that come from intentional giving, and I want my family to share in that experience.
Discuss your wealth transfer process and plans
Finally, it is good to keep your family up to speed on your wealth transfer plans. Yes, this can be delicate, but it is also important to keep your family apprised of the plans that you have made. If one of your children is the successor trustee of your trust or the executor of your will, then you should share that information. If you have had open communications up front it helps to keep feelings from being hurt. For example, if you are leaving money to charity instead of to your children, sharing that passion along the way will help them understand why you made that decision.