We celebrate mothers everywhere with a special day set aside just for them. We do all of the required stuff any dutiful child would do: we call, send flowers, make her breakfast, take her out to dinner. But there is something we could do for her that would be both selfish and selfless.
Another Idea for Mother’s Day
This gift begins with you. If you are a mother, you are already juggle numerous responsibilities with far more grace than anyone should have to, which is why celebrating Mother’s Day is such a big deal. You deserve it.
We often ask ourselves how awful it would be to have to move in with your kids. The reasons we would vary but it is usually because you failed to invest enough in your own future. And while we often focus on you in the present tense, you must also look at the future and the past as part of the solution to a problem you may not yet have. Moms need to think about not only their offspring but the person who gave birth to them.
But the very real possibility of our own parents coming to live with us is not funny. There have been studies conducted about the role women have when assuming the role of caregiver for a parent, possibly both. Most of these women did not feel as though they were financially prepared to undertake those responsibilities, they were worried about their own retirements, and whether they would have enough insurance coverage should they ever need it.
If the averages hold, about a third of all women reading this will have to give long-term care to someone in the future.
What to Do About This Possibility
A couple of quick remedies to this problem (you may not yet have) come to mind. The first is taking notice of someone who is already there. Other than emotional support, there is not much you can do to help, but there is a great deal to learn. With over half of the women surveyed by AARP having given no such care, anything you can learn about taking care of a parent for a long period, even if you never have to use it, can help a great deal.
The second thing is to begin the conversation with your parents. If they are Baby Boomers, they have probably entertained the feeling that they are immortal. They would always have the opportunity to take a little more risk because in the past, those risks usually paid off. They may not have saved enough, invested enough or simply found the allure of debt too much to overcome.
And they may also reflect the same “keep out of my financial business“that so many of their parents instilled in them. But you have to begin somewhere.
How Should We Approach the Subject?
There is no easy way but at a family gathering, where all of your siblings are present, might be the best time. Keep in mind; this means dropping almost all of our collective finances into one bowl and that is never easy. But rest assured; if you can’t afford any long-term care commitment, you are not alone. Two-thirds of us will make this claim because, as fate would have it, we are not doing as well as we would like to either. But before you spring it on Mom, talk amongst yourselves first.
Let’s face it. This is a conversation about money. Now I mentioned long-term care insurance. This is an expensive alternative but one worth considering if there are a few brothers and sisters involved. Long-term care costs money, not just in terms of real available cash and what Medicare will and will not pay, but in lost time at work for the caregiver, the stress involved and the actual inexperience the majority of us have in navigating these waters.
So not only should be planning for our future, but we have to consider taking on what our parents did or didn’t do. The bottom line: The sooner you show an interest in where your parent’s finances are, the sooner you will be able to help them or adjust your own lifestyle in case they need you. Many of us have already seen the signs but chose to ignore them. The most important thing is to find out where they are on their liabilities. Do they have excessive debt? Do they have a mortgage? Are they using some sort of budget?
Of course, you will need to ask yourself the same questions. Getting your financial house in order will help cushion the blow—if it happens. But most important tip of all, get your kids involved in your finances.
When varies from family to family but a good rule of thumb is: As soon as they are old enough to ask for money. It will definitely be too late once they begin shopping for college. If you were unable to save for college, this is not the end of the world. But teaching good financial habits early will help your child see where you are and appreciate that you are doing everything you can, even if they think it isn’t enough.
This of course means you should be using a budget, controlling your own debt, living within your means and telling them along the way why. This is the sort of thing your parents should have been discussing with you all along and because they didn’t, you have to make up a lot of lost ground.
The best Mother’s Day gift might be the one every mother needs: a plan.