Hands up if you feel awkward talking to your family about money. Yup? Me too. And how about conversations with your parents and elderly relatives about things like their wills, care preferences and inheritance? Again, it’s a hard yes from me.
It all just feels a bit too close to home. Discussing my personal financial worries with the family over a Sunday roast, when I really should be old enough to fend for myself by now. Or talking to my parents about the costs of care, funerals and what happens after they die, when they’re still many years away (I hope) from kicking the bucket.
The strange thing is, I would have thought these things would have become easier to discuss openly as a family the older we’ve all got. But, if anything, they seem to have become even more taboo; I suspect, as the need to discuss them has become increasingly important and, well, necessary.
I think for me personally, it all stems from not wanting my parents to worry about me financially. Wanting them to be proud of me, to see me as successful, financially independent, and able to stand on my own two feet. As a result, from a young age, I’ve always been embarrassed to ask for their help with money, despite the fact they’ve always been there to support me whenever (and let’s be honest, on the many occasions) I’ve needed it.
Because of my own hang-ups, money has always been something we rarely discuss; a subject I’m quick to change if it ever comes up in conversation. But, by taking the topic off the table and never addressing the elephant in the room, I realise now that we’ve missed out on so much over the years. All the advice I could have learned from them. All the stresses I could have shared with them. And all the planning we could have done together.
Talking money with your family
But it’s never too late to break bad habits, and I’ve recently started having more open conversations with my family about money, wealth and planning for the future, with the help of a little pack of conversation cards from wealth manager Killik & Co, called “The Elephant in the Room”.
This pack, which you can get for free from their website, is made up of 50 questions designed to break taboos around subjects like legacy, home life, work and leisure, with the aim of prompting an honest conversation about wealth with the people who mean the most to you.
“If money were no object, what would you spend the rest of your life doing?”
“Should more families invite older relatives to live in their home?”
“What sacrifices did you have to make when buying your first home? And was it worth it?”
“Is there anything in your will that you think might ruffle a few feathers after you die?”
The last few times I’ve seen my parents, we’ve flicked through the pack together, and it’s honestly been amazing to finally start talking about things that we’ve been putting off discussing for years.
By turning it into a game – played over lunch, a cup of tea, or (better yet) a few alcoholic beverages – it removes any awkwardness that you might usually feel when discussing these topics, and just gets everyone talking, thinking and sharing like we rarely did before.
I’ve learned what my mum’s dream career would have been if she had gone down a different path in life (an opera singer!). I’ve learnt that my dad definitely doesn’t want to move in with us when he gets too old to fend for himself (not sure whether to be pleased or offended by that one!). That my parents bought their first house for just £6,400 with a mere £250 deposit (can you believe it?!). And that their wills are updated on the regular to make sure they are always fair to everyone in the family, so nobody feels hard done by after they’ve gone.
The whole thing has honestly just been so liberating and I’d highly recommend it. Because it’s all too easy to put off challenging conversations for another day. But, as we’ve all learned over the past year, you never know what life is going to throw at you, so you’ve got to seize the moment while you can.
If you want to give it a try with your family, you can get hold of your free Elephant in the Room cards from Killik & Co’s website here to start a conversation and take the awkwardness out of talking money with your family.
* This sponsored post was written in partnership with Killik & Co *