The Almighty Dollar

Restoring some fiscal sanity in our -- negative savings rate -- lives

4.18.2006

Keeping secrets about money

There are days when I miss my family so much and wish that I lived closer to them. But those feelings evaporate instantly when the topic of money comes up.

Over the phone, I was explaining to mom why my husband had to cut short the visit to his parents' house this past weekend. It's a long, complicated story, so I'll spare you the details.

Basically, he drove back to DC in order to make a last-minute IRA deposit for his parents on Monday. The contribution would give them an additional tax refund of $1400.(Later, we realized they could have mailed it, but just in case, he wanted to make the deposit in person.)

Anyway, the trip was worthwhile, because we learned a lot about his parents' financial situation. It's a relief, since they've kept us in the dark until now. We never wanted details, only a general idea of where they stood. After they talked about wanting to retire in 5 years, the numbers show that's not a realistic option. Even still, they are much better off than my parents, who are older and have almost nothing saved for retirement.

Whenever I discuss money with my mom, she gets very defensive. She says it's insulting when I mention how unprepared they are for old age. She tells me not to worry, that she is capable of working if something happened to my dad. When I say I'm being realistic, she says I am crushing her hope and optimism. Then she accuses me of expecting them to save every penny until their death -- thus never enjoying life. And predictably, she points out that we all lead different lives; she has her way, I have mine. End of conversation.

It astounds me how often I see people reject sound financial advice. Some people feel ashamed, because they know they haven't been doing the right thing. Others get defensive, because they feel stupid for being ignorant. And then there are people like myself, who are open to any advice or criticism that could help improve my life.

I think the worst thing people can do is to NOT ask questions, especially when it comes to finances.

Seeing that most of us aren't money experts, the only way to obtain information is to seek it out. That's why I value the pf blogging community. It's a give-and-take atmosphere and a great network of people from various backgrounds. Keep up the blogging and sharing!