Valentine’s Day is a time when we express our love with flowers, chocolate, dinner, and cards. We continue to express our love every day through many ordinary tasks: making and sharing meals, offering to run an errand, shoveling the front walk, listening when someone needs to talk. The list is endless. When it comes to money, here are two ways you can express your love.
Prepare your loved one for when you can no longer manage your finances.
In many families, one person manages the day-to-day financial tasks: paying the bills, pricing insurance, storing online account logins and passwords, understanding all sources of income, knowing where the life insurance policy is stored, etc.
- Perhaps your spouse or partner handles all these details.
- Perhaps you have adult children or other family members who will need to take over these tasks if you are no longer able.
- Perhaps you are in your twenties just starting your career. What happens if you become ill or have an accident and can’t manage on your own?
When our spouses, partners or other key family members don’t have access to vital information when they need it, they face an extremely challenging task to recreate it. The task is more daunting when much of this information is stored in your password protected computer or in the cloud. Eventually they will figure out all or most of the pieces of your financial picture, but it could take months. Why send your loved ones on a frustrating treasure hunt? This hunt is especially painful if your loved one is grieving your death.
If you can, show the key person or people in your life the details of your finances. If they resist or are likely to forget the details, write it down and store it in a safe place. It may take you several weeks to record all the information, but your loved ones will someday thank you.
If you don’t know where to start or are concerned you will miss something important, you can purchase a workbook which serves as a guide and provides space to record information. One guide I like is MemoryBanc: Your Workbook for Organizing Life by Kay H. Bransford. MemoryBanc is available in both paper and electronic editions.
Teach Your Child How to Be Financially Independent
In my practice as a daily money manager, I have seen many young adults struggle financially. Many have never learned solid money skills and don’t know how to live within their means. Without these core proficiencies, they may have a hard time with all types of financial matters. Consider:
- When your children don’t understand how loans work, can they find the best financing when buying a car?
- If they hope to purchase a house someday, will they be able to postpone unnecessary expenses and purchases to save enough for a down payment?
- If your child faces a time of hardship such as job loss or an illness, will he have enough money saved to carry him through that hard time?
- Does your child understand what impacts her credit score, and how that score influences the interest rates she receives on credit cards and other loans?
When we see our adult children struggling, parents want to help. It is our natural instinct. Handing over money, however, is not always the best solution. Financially enabling our children can lead to adult children becoming dependent on their parents and being less motivated to become independent. Not all parents can afford to give money without putting their own financial security at risk.
Whether your child is six or sixty, it is never too late to teach money skills. It may be emotionally difficult, and there may be hurt feelings. Overall, however, teaching another person life-long financial skills is a wonderful gift.
There are many resources avaible for you and your children: books, online resources and articles, banks and credit unions, financial coaches, financial therapists, even the Federal Trade Commission.
For ideas and resources to teach financial skills to minor children, see my blog: Teach Your Kids About Money
The US News and World Report article, “How to Help Adult Children Become Financially Independent”, offers strategies to help grown children.
When you think of ways to show your love this Valentines’ season, I encourage you to think beyond traditional gifts. Taking steps to prepare your loved ones for both their own and your financial future is a priceless gift.
This blog is published to provide you with general information only, and is not intended to provide specific or comprehensive advice. Money Care, LLC encourages individuals to seek advice from competent professionals when appropriate.