Conversations about retirement, life insurance and 529 plans may not be as exciting as tales of Christmas specters and mutant reindeer, but they're essential nonetheless. And, given that for many of us the holidays provide rare moments where we're together with key decision makers in our families, it's the perfect time to broach these often sensitive subjects.
I had the pleasure of speaking with DC's Fox 5 anchor Jeanette Reyes about the how and why of leveraging the holiday to get all of our loved ones on the same financial page.
Watch the interview
Read the transcript
Jeanette Reyes: Well, with families getting together this week, tough conversations are often avoided, but one expert is here to say, one conversation to not put off is one about finances. Let's bring in a financial advisor David Peters for more on this. David, you're really gonna have to sell me on this here, because for a lot of folks, they would say perhaps not the most ideal time. So good morning to you. Thanks for joining us.
David Peters: Good morning. Yeah, I think that any conversation about money can sometimes be uncomfortable, but the fact is I think in a lot of cases that they're necessary and that the holidays really present a kind of unique opportunity where everyone is together in one place to have those conversations.
JR: I was just gonna say it, it is one of those rare times, and this is a particular conversation where you want all the involved family members – decision makers – to be at the table so to speak. But now, as far as timing, I mean, you don't want to bless the food, and then Amen, and then ‘Let's talk about money.’ How would you say you should bring this up?
DP: Well, I think that you're right. I mean, we don't want to necessarily jump right in, but…there's typically times during the weekend where people are together and we start to think about the longer term and the more important things that are going on in people's lives. And that's usually a pretty good time to start talking about things like education planning, things like estate planning, and even tough conversations around holiday budgeting. So the first question that you wanna ask how much money would your family need to get by if someone were to pass?
JR: What do you mean by that?
DP: Yeah. Well, so one of the conversations that we wanna talk about is maybe around life insurance – especially if there is life insurance in place for somebody, we want to have that conversation, and we want to talk about what would really be needed for those survivors if that person really were to pass and to talk about things like how much would it cost to take care of a children, remaining family members. Maybe if somebody's still in school...so making sure that we can cover those costs as well.
JR: And you're also touching on liquid assets and how much would be needed or desired.
DP: We really want to have a conversation around what would really happen, because that's gonna be the most productive. And it is uncomfortable, or at least it can be. But at the same time though, it comes from a position of caring about what is going to go on with family members if you were to pass. And so I think that really the angle that we want to take is that this really is a conversation based on the fact that we care about the people that are in our family, and we want to make sure that they're taken care of if something were to happen to us.
JR: Retirement is another point you'll want to touch upon, especially for maybe the parents or the folks who are approaching that age or looking at it in the next 20 years.
DP: Yeah, that's always a little bit of a tricky one. I think that with retirement, sometimes the conversation is about money, but oftentimes what I find is that it's often about lifestyle changes, too. I mean, you have somebody who's been working their entire lives, and then – all of a sudden – work is not a part of their life anymore. And so I think having them talk about what does retirement really look like? How are they going to spend their days? What are they going to spend their time doing? I think that those conversations are important and can help the person that is getting ready to retire to sort of make that transition a little easier.
JR: We have about 30 seconds here, but I do want to ask you, so you have these conversations. Let's say they're productive. Let's say there are more questions than answers, right? What's the next actionable step that you take once everybody goes to their respective homes?
DP: Well, I don't know that you're necessarily gonna get answers on the first go, so, we just want to make sure that, uh, we keep having those conversations. And I think that it's important to at least have an initial conversation during the holiday season so that we can have another one maybe the next time everybody's together.
JR: I would assume you would advise maybe have one point person – someone who's following up on this, correct?
DP: I think that that's usually best, and that's usually how you're going to get things done, I think. But again, I think the important part is to just have the conversation and start the conversation because I think for a lot of folks, that's the hardest part.
JR: Yeah. And these, these conversations really are inevitable, and the best is to have them proactively. Financial advisor David Peters, joining us this morning. Thank you so much sir, and Happy Thanksgiving.
DP: Yes! Happy Thanksgiving!