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Does Your Family Talk About Money?
Old 11-14-2018, 06:43 AM   #1
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Does Your Family Talk About Money?

I'm mainly curious about parents and siblings running their own households. In my family, we pretty much NEVER talk about money in any specific detail. We talk about retirement and saving, but more in generalities.

I've recently started offering advice to my brother-in-law (at his request), and I have to admit, it feels kind of good. Funny how it started. I was at a concert with several family members including his 14yo daughter. I don't remember how it started, but I responded to someone's comment by saying something along the lines of "Every dollar you save in your 20's is worth 10 times as much as a dollar saved in your 50's".

I often wonder how my siblings families are doing. I've been an early retiree aspiree for years and my goal comes to fruition in a little less than two years when I turn 55. Assuming no major disruptions, DW and I should be very comfortable for the rest of our lives. I've talked about early retirement for years, but I'm not sure anyone else gets it as they don't generally ask many questions.

We grew up in one of the lower-end neighborhoods of our small city. Parents divorced when I was 9, and things never looked good from a financial perspective. Needless to say, I've come a long way from there.

I did have a brief exchange with my 78yo father a couple of weeks ago. I asked him why he didn't think I'd be retiring when I said I would. He said something about his investments and being able to afford certain things, and that he probably had a lot more than I did. I straight-up asked him how much he had invested. After some hem-hawing, he said "about $250,000". I said, "Dad, you don't have to worry about me. DW and I have multiple times that amount saved for retirement and will be just fine." I don't know if he believed me or not, but when it dawned on me that he thought $250K was a lot of money, I was kind of shell-shocked.

In a way, I guess it was a bit of validation of our LBYM lifestyle. We live in a relatively modest, middle-income home, and I still drive the 2001 F150 I bought brand new (and paid off in 3 years). I guess we don't look like we're "there". But yeah - we can do just about anything we'd want to; at least once!
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Old 11-14-2018, 07:22 AM   #2
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I have about 4 or 5 family members that have asked for assistance in setting up retirement funds with automatic withdrawals of 3-5% sent direct to their checking accounts. All are agreeable to conservative investments of 30-40% equities and the rest in fixed income. I have made no guarantees of returns and each member has chosen their own investment vehicle after understanding the risk. I try to lead by example with my grown children when it comes to handling money. I also stay out of their business and let them make a few mistakes(just like I made).
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Old 11-14-2018, 07:28 AM   #3
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We talk just in round numbers / percentages / generalizations in our family. I know that my DDs and their husband/fiancée make good (in some cases very good) salaries. We talk about maximizing 401K contributions or at least getting the maximum employer match.

I had a similar experience to the OP about 15 years ago when my father was interested in how TurboTax worked and asked me to do his taxes. He cautioned me that I would see some big numbers in his investment paperwork. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that DH and I had just a bit more than that in our accounts at that time.
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Old 11-14-2018, 07:49 AM   #4
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Have only discussed matters involving money with siblings and our adult kids in general terms unless we are asked for advice.
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Old 11-14-2018, 08:15 AM   #5
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We are fairly open but that's thanks to a number of unfortunate incidents where we HAD to talk about finances and how things will get paid. My sister was involved in a messy divorce a few years back and when her ex maxed out credit cards in both their names and declared bankruptcy. She asked for advice (not money) and I helped as much as I could. She's now remarried and has a daughter so she has asked again for advice for college savings.

My mom died very unexpectedly at the beginning of the year and that started another talk with my father and sister about Mom's life insurance money and Dad's pension and plans for the future. We carry that conversation on as we go. Good discussion but still makes me sad because I know it's due to Mom not being here.
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Old 11-14-2018, 08:36 AM   #6
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My dad was an accountant, so he and I discussed money matters and investment strategies a lot, and after he got sick we talked much more specifically, as he gave me POA and I reviewed his accounts. After he was back home and taking care of his own affairs again, I told him he should spend more on himself and not worry about us, and showed him our portfolio. I have a general idea of the amount and distribution (but few specifics) of the portfolio of the cousin I mentioned who wants me to be the trustee for his son; we started those discussions when I was taking care of my dad's estate, as they were close.

Come to think of it, I am often the one pushing to discuss things. We disclosed our net worth to a family member of our parents' generation who was concerned about the ability of our generation (us) being able to maintain the family vacation home, as we will probably be the sole heirs due to either lack of kids or a disinterest from other parts of the family. My MIL did tell us she has plans in place to pay for her own care as long as necessary, and my FIL's pension was quite generous, and she now has guaranteed income for life regardless of savings, which are not inconsequential either.

tl;dr version: probably more than most, but not as much as we do here.
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Old 11-14-2018, 09:04 AM   #7
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Talking personal finances in my family is impossible. The subject is never brought up and we never ask. I think that's sad and that's why I joined this forum. I wanted advice and discussion about all aspects of managing money. Friends will talk in generalities but never give solid numbers. I avoid giving our numbers to anyone. Here, numbers, investing advice, how much to FIRE, are we doing the right things...etc I read more than I post and always come away with a new perspective that is helpful.
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Old 11-14-2018, 09:24 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by The Cosmic Avenger View Post
My dad was an accountant, so he and I discussed money matters and investment strategies a lot
An interesting anecdote to my first post - my sister was a corporate accountant and managed a large group of other accountants. I always assumed she and her husband were likely heavily invested and doing well as they each had generous salaries (I can only deduce approximations as we never talk about it per first post... ) and she's, you know, an accountant.

Something was said a few weeks ago in a group conversation about the recent stock market volatility and she said, "If it was up to me we wouldn't even invest in the stock market!" Another shell-shock moment for me from my family.
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Old 11-14-2018, 09:37 AM   #9
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We just talk in generalities, our children know we are and will be fine. We are close mouthed around the not-to-be-trusted son in law. I have seen him in action. Due to this, no discussion with that branch. We have talked more in depth with others.
DH and his bro-in-law help out with his mom’s stuff. The bro-in-law just retired and is pretty panicked but he ought to be better than okay.
Most of my in-laws are spendypants, my sis, too. I have no idea what they will do when their state funded pensions do not keep up.
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Old 11-14-2018, 09:46 AM   #10
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I straight-up asked him how much he had invested. After some hem-hawing, he said "about $250,000". I said, "Dad, you don't have to worry about me. DW and I have multiple times that amount saved for retirement and will be just fine." I don't know if he believed me or not, but when it dawned on me that he thought $250K was a lot of money, I was kind of shell-shocked.
I do hope you didn't hurt his pride by saying that. I imagine he was pretty pleased with himself for having amassed that sum and, to be fair, $250K is not an insignificant amount of money.

Kudos to you though, for planning for your financial future.
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Old 11-14-2018, 09:48 AM   #11
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Just generalities with siblings. Both DW and my parents are passed, so siblings and us are the highest on the food chain. No specific numbers with them, but do discuss strategies with one. No children for DW and me, so can't answer that. We do have two of the siblings as trustee and successor trustee for our trust/estate issues. Guess they will find out exact numbers at that time.
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Old 11-14-2018, 09:53 AM   #12
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None of my parents or siblings are good with money. The only time they’ve discussed money with me is when they’ve asked to borrow some.

Neither of my parents (now in their late 60sand still working) is well-prepared for retirement. My Dad plans to move to a LCOL country to make it work.

I’ve had conversations with my 14 & 12yo kids about college funding, but not about what we make, or how much we have. Those conversations will happen as we and they get older. Probably first in vague terms to emphasize the power of investing in stocks while young, and then in more specific terms as DW and I get older and need to think about estate planning.
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Old 11-14-2018, 10:08 AM   #13
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I do hope you didn't hurt his pride by saying that. I imagine he was pretty pleased with himself for having amassed that sum and, to be fair, $250K is not an insignificant amount of money.

Kudos to you though, for planning for your financial future.
Thanks, Tom - and that's actually a very valid point. With my paraphrasing, lack of context to the rest of the conversation, etc, it sure does look like that could be a possibility!

I'll have to come up with a witty way to revisit the subject - in generalities again, I'm sure - to ensure he knows where I was coming from when I said that. I think it's probably okay, because just prior to that, he was expressing concern at my leaving the workforce when I plan to based on his perception of how we were doing financially. He specifically mentioned "driving an old truck"...

Of course, that old truck has been to Ziebart every year since it was 3 for rustproofing & interior/exterior detailing, has never missed a service interval, and just recently hit 175K, so it still has room to run!
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Does Your Family Talk About Money?
Old 11-14-2018, 10:36 AM   #14
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Does Your Family Talk About Money?

As for my family, my parents are both dead. When they were alive, they never revealed how much money they had and I never would have asked because they would have thought that question to be rude and intrusive (I know, weird family).

However they DID talk about LBYM, the value of diversification in investing, never invading one's principal, and so on, and I had a lot of that sort of thing drummed into me before I was even old enough for school. One of the big appeals of Bogleheads, to me, is that their general approach is fairly similar in many ways to what my father taught me back in the 1950's. The investing mindset that my parents passed on to me when I was a little girl has been quite valuable to me in the long run.

My older brother and I sometimes email back and forth about how our investments are doing, and I think the purpose of that is mostly to reassure him that I am financially OK. I have no idea how much he has, but I know he and his wife are far better off than I am.
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Old 11-14-2018, 10:47 AM   #15
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When I was 15 my uncle showed me his portfolio and investments and started giving me great advice when I entered the workforce. My brother was never interested and my parents just had SS to live off of.


Fast forward to today we retired at 61/60 and thought SIL would at least ask how, no she just thought we were wealthy. When ever she did ask for advice I would sit down and explain in detail what I would do and why. She never has taken my advice, has borrowed twice from her 401k, thinks putting in 8% into 401k is enough but has no clue what SS will pay her or her husband, what her husbands pension will be etc.


So I don't even talk about it anymore.
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Old 11-14-2018, 10:53 AM   #16
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My father worked for the power company, and he was taken care of with great retirement and benefits. But he was of middle class means. When my sister moved them to her town, they lived in luxury they were not used to. And when my mother moved into a CCRC and had to have 24/7 help watching her, she went through $110K a year savings on top of her income. She was down to her last $5K when she suddenly passed on. And she had no idea she was close to leaving my sister and I in a bind.

We do not talk money specifics with our daughter and two stepchildren. At 30, 50 and 51 years old, they have not saved for their retirement. And raising a 7 year granddaughter is our priority that requires setting up a special needs trust. The children have been given every chance to provide for their future, and ER is out of the question for them. We just pray for good health so we can be around long enough to spend the money we worked hard to save and invest wisely.
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Old 11-14-2018, 11:03 AM   #17
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A couple of years ago I read the book Beyond the Grave about wills and estate planning. I passed it along to my mom and suggested she read it and perhaps have a open discussion with my stepdad, brother, sister and myself so we all understand what she wants when she dies to try to avoid some of the family strife that can happen.

We all had a good meeting together and were able to talk through some potential sticky areas.

I also talk with my mother and stepdad about investment strategies. This is an area where we don’t agree (they are more comfortable with higher risk investment options - trading, limited partnership, etc. than my wife and I are). It is their life and money so I don’t say too much about it.
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Old 11-14-2018, 11:10 AM   #18
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Yes, we do. I was raised by parents who instilled the need to "save something every paycheck". My folks never revealed their day to day income, but did talk budgeting and finance. Stocks and finance were my dads favorite subject!
We have raised our kids the same way. They both have budgets themselves and have started retirement accounts. They know we are comfortably able to afford retirement, and have investments. They do not know the exact numbers.
They also know where our financial and life plan books are kept, for access when we are unable to care for ourselves or die.
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Old 11-14-2018, 11:17 AM   #19
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I do hope you didn't hurt his pride by saying that. I imagine he was pretty pleased with himself for having amassed that sum and, to be fair, $250K is not an insignificant amount of money.

Kudos to you though, for planning for your financial future.
I'm a bit ashamed to admit that I kept my financial information private from my Dad. He had been a bit of a slacker throughout life, often unemployed, although in his later years, he did have a good steady federal gov't job. He retired from it at age 62, to help care for Granddad, who was getting up there in years. He would have worked longer if it wasn't for Granddad, but he felt a family duty. He had also lived with my grandparents since 1987, and while they kept a roof over his head, he helped out a LOT, as they both aged and got sick.

Well, I didn't want Dad to know how well I was doing, because I was afraid he'd want to come live off of me, or hit me up for money. And, as he got older, he started getting cranky and bitter, and learning how to press everybody's buttons, mine included. I gotta admit, I felt a bit guilty when he did finally pass away, and I got my inheritance. While it wasn't nearly as much as what I've gotten stockpiled, it was still very impressive, considering his employment lapses, and relatively low income over the his life. Anyway, my fear of him mooching off of me was completely unfounded.
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Old 11-14-2018, 11:41 AM   #20
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My father and mother died very poor and I had to pay for the funerals/burials. Neither had any retirement savings and were living off SS, pretty much except for a small Post Office pension. Dad died in 1982 (at 62) and Mom in 1995 (at 84)

Both my sisters (only siblings) are dirt poor living in one of the slum cities in Connecticut and both are retired, although they are struggling. Oldest sister (5 years younger than me) lost her job when the plant she worked in closed and moved to Canada. Her husband has been loser all his life and lived off my sister. Other younger sister (divorced) has bounced around, job wise doing minimum wage work. Even if any of them had marketable skills, the slum city of 110,000 has lost all of it's manufacturing base. The larges employer now is the city.

So, I don't talk about personal financials when I visit back there (infrequently). The four nephews who grew up and live there, are struggling also.

DW's siblings (4 living) are all doing fine and all are millionaires from what I can tell. They have all done well in different careers. We never discuss financial matters with them when we visit. Seems like we are the poorest of the bunch on her side of the family.
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