How to Talk to Your Parents About Money

Sons laughing with their elderly father.

Have you ever wanted to talk to your parents about money as an adult?  When growing up, many of us remember money seeming like it was in short supply.  We were told “no” when we asked for things, paying bills seemed to cause stress, and money just wasn’t discussed openly in our homes.  Add to that the fact that my dad HATED lights being left on and doors being open in the summer (“Electricity ain’t free!!!”), I just assumed we didn’t have excess cash.


As I’ve gotten older and more established as an adult with my own family, I’ve had an increasing interest level in my parents’ finances.  Seeing them get closer and closer to retirement age makes me want to ensure that they are ready financially for that stage of their lives.


However, it can be difficult and downright awkward to talk to your parents about money.  Let’s be honest, many of us grew up thinking our parents never had money or sex.  Turns out for many of them, they had both!


But if you’re in the place where you have a feeling that they could be doing better with their money and you want to help them, this post will help you approach the subject in a way that serves the relationship well and them well.  This isn’t a conversation that happens one time.  You will need to live out these steps over time and many conversations to build enough trust to have an impact.


Who knows?  You may just discover once you get involved that they have way more money than you ever thought, and there are some things you can learn from them!


Don’t Lecture


The key word for the entire dialogue between you and your parents about money is your HUMILITY.  If you come in guns blazing telling them everything they need to do with their money, then you will likely be shut out.


Think about it.  These are the same people who kept you alive the first 18 years of your life.  They changed your diapers, fed you when you couldn’t feed yourself, bought clothes for you, took you to and from your school activities, and taught you how to live life.


You must be humble to earn their trust to be able to speak into their finances.  So, check your pride and authority at the door before having the conversations.  You are not an authority in their lives unless they invite you to be.  Start with the mindset of conversation, not lecture.


Tell Your Story


One of the most effective ways to impact someone to change is to tell how you’ve experienced change.  A good starting place with talking to your parents about money is to share the good that’s happened in your money management.


If you’re excited about getting out of debt, saving for a house, or investing for retirement, simply talk about it!  This can overcome the obstacle of money being something taboo to talk about.  I’m not describing bragging about your bank account balance.  I’m talking about sharing the wins of your life with those who love you and are proud of those wins with you.


As you continue to be open about your financial excitement, it may arouse curiosity in them and open more doors for communication.  Your goal is to get them to ask, “How did you do that?”  If you can get there, you’ve opened a door for deeper communication.


Ask Questions


When you sense a comfort level about money conversation, don’t start telling your parents what to do.  Ask them questions about what they’re doing.  Also, make sure your tone is an optimistic one.  Don’t ask questions as if you’re assuming they’re not doing things properly.  Ask in a tone like you expect them to be just as excited about their finances as you are yours.


Starting with questions will help you maintain humility and earn trust.  Plus, you don’t want to give input into their finances unless you have all the information of their situation.  If you don’t, then you might step into the talk like the proverbial bull in a china shop and do more harm than good.


Gather information, be an encourager, and THEN you might just be able to take the next step…


Give Suggestions As They Ask


Like I said earlier, you aren’t an authority in your parents’ lives.  You love them and want what’s best for them, but they haven’t been trusted to your care.  As that’s the case, it’s most healthy for you to give input when they invite you to, not by force.


This doesn’t have to come as a straight forward question from them.  You can intuitively feel out when a conversation is open for you to give input.  If you’ve laid a groundwork of trust by sharing what’s working in your life and asking thoughtful questions, you’ll be able to tell when they are receptive to advice.


Some of you may get into the conversation and find that your parents are far better off than you ever thought they were.  But some of you may find that they need to make some serious changes if they aren’t going to end up on your payroll later in life.


In either case, if you always approach the conversation caring more about the health of the relationship than the content in it, you will be able to serve them healthily.


Have you had to have “the talk” with your parents about money?  How’d it go?  Want to add anything to the conversation?  Leave a comment below.

Have a Question or Comment?

2 comments on “How to Talk to Your Parents About Money


My parents were Dave Ramsey before Dave was even born! They bought cars with cash, never had a cent of debt except the house and paid it off early. They never ran a credit card balance a single time, never bounced a check and retired with more money than they could ever spend. They tithed 10% of their gross income their entire careers as well. And they taught their kids exactly how they did it.


That’s awesome! Sounds like the kind of parents we need more of! Thanks for reading!


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