by Dian Vujovich
Let me be clear: Talking about money has always been an emotionally charged subject no matter how much money your family has or doesn’t have, how old you are or how “Father Knows Best-like” and perfectly functional —or dysfunctional—your family is. And talking about this touchy subject might just be the one thing that turns an already sensitive family holiday gathering into a gone-postal one.
Over the past few weeks more than one financial services sources have suggested the holiday season, when the family is all gathered together, is a great time to talk money. Really? I can’t think of a worse time to bring up how the trusts have been funded, who has one, who doesn’t, how much money is going to charities, Fido’s care, grandpa’s lover or that grandma has gambled all the family funds away and we’re all now broke than during the already emotionally charged holiday season. A season that pretty much brings out the best and worst in each of us.
I can only think its got to be some kind of masochistic who would find this a good idea. Or, a financial education newbie who sees more value in the family’s portfolio than he does the importance of understanding how a said family really works, and what’s at the core of its make-up and interpersonal relationships.After all, the family finances subject is one that’s far too important to be piggybacked with any other family event.
So to keep the mashed potatoes and Grandma’s Baccarat Harcourt 1841 Louis Philippe stemware from flying across the table during a holiday dinner consider a more appropriate time for engaging your family into a birth, death and inheritance dialogue. For instance, begin with any day of the year that doesn’t have a party, or occasion, associated with it.
That means forget the holidays. They already bring with them too much stress. Plus, family members can come to the whatever-it-is-festive occasion masking any number of unresolved conflicts that a money discussion would only exacerbate.
And pass by the notion of birthdays, anniversaries or after a funeral to touch on the subject. Instead, have the guts to pick a date and time that works best for you and is not associated with any emotional anything.
Every single family needs to address the financial realities of their family with all of their family members. And do so with plenty of fore thought and planning no matter what’s in the coffers.
While your family’s first money summit might seem a little awkward, I guarantee that once you have one, you’ll have more as circumstances change and the years pass. And when you finally do, your family will be both grateful and thankful for the time well spent.