A Letter to Mom and Dad

Money, retirement, saving, financial interventionA couple of weeks ago I wrote a post as I was contemplating the idea of financial intervention with parents. From this I had correspondence with several people that helped me think through this issue even further. Notably I have to recognize The Simple Life in France for asking some great questions, Dr. Dean for a great related and inspiring post about parents at risk and Money Reasons for the continued motivation.

Joe Plemon won the inspiration award by challenging the status quo. He questioned the idea of writing a letter to connect with parents regarding money. He rightfully raised concern over the potential of ruffled feathers. No doubt it could.

I couldn’t help but wonder if there is a sure fire way to write a letter that would get our parents engaged. No matter how many times I wrote the letter, the only result I could see was catastrophe! But then Dr. Dean provided the answer, engage your parents by asking them to review your finances.

Assuming they agree to lend a helping hand once again to their child, once the conversation has begun about how you manage your money there will be plenty of openings to ask about theirs.

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Here is a letter that I might send to my parents:

Mom/Dad:

Being so far away makes it difficult to show you both how much I love you.

I would not be the person I am if not for the support you have provided. You both worked very hard to provide for our family and yet you were always with us when we needed you most.

You were great role models. I remember you at every rugby match and swim meet cheering me on. You always stood up for what you believed and showed me it is OK to be different.

I admit, as a teenager, I definitely thought I was smarter than you but as an adult I now realize how wrong I was. The lessons I didn’t listen to then, I am learning from now.

As I reflect on those days when I was still home I also n0w recognize that I missed so many opportunities to learn more. I’ve followed grandma’s recipe exactly but the biscuits are just not the same. I would love to have a garden like Dad’s but I have no clue where to start. And how were you always so patient with us? Arrgg I wish I could learn that!

I am not sure if I will ever be able to learn these things from you, but there is one more thing I would appreciate your help with, my finances.

You always made this look so easy. I know we were not rich but you were always able to provide, even when Dad was out of work that one year.

Retirement for me is still many years away, but I’d like it to be much sooner. The next time we are over to visit, would you be willing to help me review my finances and provide me some advice on how I can improve.

Mom, Dad; I promise, I will listen this time!

Love

Your Son!

Of course, there is no guarantee that your parents will open up about their own money, but this would be a safe way to try.

Readers with kids: How would you feel if you received this letter from your children? If your children were open and transparent with their finances, would you be more likely to share yours with them?

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photo by roblisameehan


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18 comments to A Letter to Mom and Dad

  • Good question Greg-san… if I were to ask my parents this question, I think they’d say yes. My mom is very open about how little she made, and where she is investing. My father is much more private but has given me suggestion after suggestion on how to optimize my finances when we have a sit down.

    Nice letter!
    .-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..Why Are President Obama And The Democrats Against Charity? =-.

  • Good for you! I think that this kind of a letter is likely to be taken well by a lot of parents. It’s a great touch hitting on their areas of expertise and letting them stay in the advising role, very clever.

    As you state, it’s hard to say if they’d be willing to open up to you about what they actually are doing with their finances, but it’s worth a try!
    .-= Simple in France´s last blog ..Of Mice, Men and Antidepressants =-.

  • LLC:

    It was a well-written personal letter, didn’t seem intrusive at all. As an only child, my parents and myself are open books with each other. Although we don’t always agree, we are respectful of each others views (i.e. they let me fail when I pitch my hair-brained schemes) and are always learning from each other.

    As long as the focus remains on learning and less about controlling, then you shouldn’t meet much resistance. Good luck!

  • Awe, this is such a sweet letter! My heart gave a little “pang”!

    My mom is quite open about what and where she invests (guaranteed income certificates, income trusts, stocks paying out dividends), and my dad growing up I knew where he invested (real estate), so I guess between the two they have a balanced portfolio =)
    .-= youngandthrifty´s last blog ..Weekend Ramblings and PF Blog Love =-.

  • Aw, as a parent I would be touched if I got a letter like that from my son. I already share a lot of my finances with my son though (and the world) but it’d still be nice to get a letter like that :)
    .-= Jackie´s last blog ..Favorite Free Things =-.

  • Are you asking for financial assistance? Or are you asking for advice-help with getting your finances in order, dealing with retirement, etc?

    If it’s the latter, then I do not see how this is a big deal at all. They could give you plenty of advice without delving into any of their financial details at all, but they probably would.

    Does this really need to be addressed by a formal letter? It’s not something you could just ask on the phone, “Can you or dad help me with my budget (retirement plan, etc) next time I come over?”

    This seems like a pretty normal thing to discuss with parents.
    .-= Leslie´s last blog ..Weekend: April 2-4, 2010 =-.

  • The LeanLifeCoach

    Whew! Well accepted… sometimes it is scary to put what you think out in the open.

    @Samurai – Kind words from a master writer are always an honor and appreciated! You are truly a fortunate soul to have such parents.

    @Simple in France – Thank you for your curiosity and concern it made all the difference!

    @FinEngr – We are going to be controlling soon enough, we can put that off for now. I’d love to hear of the “hair-brained schemes?”

    @Youngandthrifty – Thank you so much for the nice words! You just “panged” me back!

    @Jackie – Your children are fortunate to have you! Tell em’ I said so!

    @Leslie – Sadly this is really just a ruse to get aging parents to open up to their children. Last week I wrote another post called An Intervention With Aging Parents. I had suggested that if a direct intervention was not likely to work, that a letter may. This is that letter.

    Young, Samurai & FinEngr – Make sure you each tell your parents how cool they are! You are all very fortunate!

  • As a father of grown children, I can assure you that I would cherish such a letter from any of my kids. Whether your parents ever open up with you about their finances, you have opened the door for some good dialogue, which will happen when you “are over to visit”…NOT in a letter. As you know, I warned against the possibility of a letter exploding, but I see no downside to this one. I say send it and then go visit.
    .-= Joe Plemon´s last blog ..March Money Madness Winners Have Been Named / Weekly Roundup =-.

  • What a wonderful way to approach the topic. I have two sets of parents (through divorce). One set I know if financially secure, the other I’m not so sure. This could be something I approach with them at some point in the near future.

    Great idea!
    .-= Little House´s last blog ..Yakezie Round-Up….and Great Reads =-.

  • This is a great letter. I think you are creating a win win situation for you and your parents to engage in an open conversation about finances. Good luck! :)

  • Excellent letter! What a great “ice breaker” way to open the door to talking finances with your parents!

    The hardest part is opening the door to the financial discussion, and I think this is a clever way to do that!

    I would be more open if my son sent this letter to me!

    Be careful though! If your finances are obviously superior to your parents, they might take offense (or even be embarrassed)… Still, it’s worth a shot, this is the best approach I ever read yet!

    Good Luck, I think you’ve crafted a great start!
    .-= Money Reasons´s last blog ..Are You Tracking Your Cash Flow? You’d Better Be! =-.

  • I could be a recipient of such a letter but its not realistic, by that I mean both my children are doing well in spite of us (the parents) not being terribly good money role models for them. Quite honestly, I learn so much from my children now. I an almost see it in my mind, that each of them took a personal vow that they would never, NEVER, be in a financial straight jacket!

    But I see a flip side – a letter to my son (or daughter), complimenting them on their life achievements and saying something along the lines that I am super pleased that in spite of being poor financial role models for you, you have tackled the beast and come on top. That I am so proud of them. Then I would say something about being at the point where I have some cashflow and would he be willing to go over my current plans and maybe make some suggestions so that I can continue to provide for a better lifestyle as each year passes another.
    .-= Valentina´s last blog ..What is Your Blog’s USP? =-.

  • The LeanLifeCoach

    @JoePlemon – You were 100% right about the potential which I didn’t even consider. Thanks for contributing even if inadvertently. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.

    @LittleHouse – I hope it works for you. Drop me a line and let me know how it goes!

    @Kristine – Thank you!

    @MoneyReasons – No doubt there are still many landmines left to navigate, but hopefully this would up the doors.

    @Valentina – Thank you so much for sharing the other side of the story. You obviously did something right to have such successful kids. If you follow through on your idea, I’d love to hear about it!

  • Craig Ford

    I think we’ve probably all wondered the best way to approach this. I like the letter you wrote and it seems like a great way to move forward. It will be interesting to know the response.
    .-= Craig Ford´s last blog ..Can’t Pay IRS Taxes in Full? Tax Payment Options =-.

  • WealthWebGuru

    I think this is great. As someone from the financial industry for 20 years, I’ve been trying to get families to communicate more about money and this is such a great idea. Excellent read!

  • The LeanLifeCoach

    @Craig – Thanks for the compliment. If and when I have more I will certainly share it. this letter was only addressing a “hypothetical” need.

    @WealthWebGuru – Thank you!

  • Lal

    A great and honest letter. I like it

  • [...] A Letter to Mom and Dad (by the Lean Life Coach at Eliminate the Muda): What would a letter to your parents about money look like? Here’s one example. [...]

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