My family isn’t comprised of what you might call “money gurus.” While they aren’t completely ignorant when it comes to personal finance issues, in most cases their failings in certain areas aren’t necessarily due to lack of knowledge, but rather lack of caring or attention.
This bothers me; it bothers me a lot, because it often results in their wasting money or the making of poor money decisions. Of course it’s their money to do with as they please, but I almost feel obligated to at least make some sort of effort to educate and help them avoid costly money errors.
But teaching others about money can be a tough subject to broach. I don’t want to sound pushy, nosey or like a know-it-all, but at the same time, I want to help them since they often don’t consider such personal finance issues themselves.
Often when teaching my family about saving money, it’s not the information I provide them but the way in which I provide that information. I could tell them something over and over again until I’m blue in the face, but the minute I say, “The other day on television” or “I read in the newspaper” or “I recently saw on CNBC,” their ears perk up, and I suddenly have their attention.
I think that this is probably a common problem within many families. A family member could become president of the United States, but to their family, they’d always be “Little brother Ronald” or “Silly cousin Billy” or “Wild uncle Fred,” and with that familiarity comes the tendency to disregard or pay less attention to what that person is saying.
Acknowledging this, I always try to back up with examples, facts, sources or quotes, any information I’m presenting to my family members, in an effort to let them know that it’s not just “crazy K.W.” shooting off his mouth again about personal finance stuff.
But the money saving information and evidence I provide my family isn’t always enough to have it truly hit home with them. In order to make my educational offerings a bit more relevant, I often have to mold it to their particular living or financial situation. By running various scenarios and presenting the information in a way that makes it relevant to family finances, they seem to pay more attention.
Just the other day, I was speaking to a family member about her looming retirement. I asked her if it would be better to take the pension from her current employer or take social security based upon a percentage of her husband’s benefit total. She wasn’t sure and hadn’t really thought about it. Therefore we played with some various scenarios based upon her expected retirement age, pension payout, and husband’s estimated social security benefits. This was not necessarily in an effort to push her toward making a decision right then and there, but at least to assist her in beginning to contemplate the possible scenarios and outcomes involved.
Making it Their Own
One thing I’ve learned over time and when trying to educate people about money, is that I often have to plant the seed by putting the information out there, and then let it grow so that eventually they consider it their own. I especially noticed this to be the case with older family members — those who are at least a generation older than I myself — because accepting advice from a younger person often seems difficult for them to do.
This is fine with me, because I’m not seeking credit for helping them, but instead just want to see what is best for them financially. Plus, it’s mildly amusing when they come back to me a few days or a week later and explain how they just had this great idea come to them, then the idea turns out to be exactly what we had discussed, and in their mind it is now their own wonderful revelation — but hey, whatever works.
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The author is not a licensed financial professional. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.