How can I get my mom to talk about her finances?


Question. Julie in Wyoming: My mother is 86, widowed and doesn’t like to talk too much. Do you have any suggestions for her to actually talk to me about her finances? I’m afraid she’ll find my questioning too indiscreet, but I just want to make sure she’s okay.

A: We don’t know if this will make you feel any better, but you’re not alone. We know many people (even some of our clients) who have faced tremendous challenges trying to get their parents to open up about such a sensitive topic. The key, strange as it may seem, is not to make conversation about them – at least to start with.

What do we mean? Try to start the conversation by talking about your own situation, then ask your mother for advice or her opinion. For example, “I just had a meeting with my financial advisor last week, and she and I discussed the lifestyle and budget I want in retirement. What was your experience? Or: “I’m nervous about running out of money in retirement.” Have you ever felt this? Ask any question that will get him to open up on his own terms.

If you want to use a more direct approach, just make sure you’re still coming from a place of love and concern. Say, “Mom, I love you and care about your well-being. Is everything alright? Can I help you with your finances? is better than saying, “Mom, how’s your financial situation?”

Another option is to take yourself out of the picture. Because, like it or not, even if you’re an adult, your mother might still see you as her “baby girl,” which makes it difficult to discuss serious issues. This is when a third party, such as a trusted financial advisor, can help you. She might feel more comfortable opening up to a professional.

Here’s Allworth’s advice: This is not a unique situation. You should try to have an ongoing dialogue with your mother about her situation, no matter how brief the discussion. Hopefully it will get easier with each conversation. Yes, it will take a lot of patience, but in the end, your family will be stronger and much better prepared for financial surprises.

Q. Carter of Villa Hills: Is there a “perfect” number of credit cards someone should have and use? How much is too much?

A: There is certainly no perfect number. The credit bureaus don’t really care how many you have because what really matters is how you use them. For example, the typical American has about two to three credit cards according to Experian. But let’s say you have eight. If you pay them all each month on time and in full and don’t use more than 10-30% of your total credit limit, you could very well have a better credit score than someone with fewer cards. . .

But of course, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Because constantly having to keep track of eight credit cards can get a bit overwhelming and tedious, potentially increasing your risk of missing a payment or overspending.

Allworth’s advice is that you should have as many credit cards as you feel comfortable using responsibly. Consider maybe a few cards that come with different types of rewards or cashback programs and use different merchants (Visa, Mastercard, etc.). This way you diversify your options and maximize the potential benefits.

If you or a friend or family member has a money problem or problem, please feel free to send these questions to [email protected].

The answers are provided for informational purposes only and individuals should consider whether any general recommendation contained in these answers is appropriate for their particular situation based on their investment objectives, financial situation and needs. To the extent a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific matter discussed above to their individual situation, they are encouraged to consult with a professional advisor of their own choosing, including a tax advisor and/or attorney. . Retirement planning services offered by Allworth Financial, an SEC-registered investment adviser. Securities offered by AW Securities, a registered broker/dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Call 513-469-7500 or visit

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