I was just at a luncheon where we were discussing the challenges and positives of these economic times (we didn’t want to focus just on the bad) and it was so interesting. Many of us were very fortunate and had a lot to be thankful for, but we also have all felt the realities and had a lot of friends, family, coworkers more directly effected.
We also talked a lot though about the positives, a big theme seeming to be a resetting of values and priorities (i.e. prioritizing spending, distinguishing “needs” v. “wants”) and how this has created “teachable moments” with our children. Hopefully this is something we can carry forward even as times get better (and they will:-). I hope perhaps these teachable moments might also carry forward in a more general way…a better openness about talking about money. Sometimes I have felt this is a more taboo subject than death, esp. amongst family members. It can often lead to misunderstandings, misinformation, and real challenges as family members age and we start a more active role in their care. If my parents have asked me to be their POA and perhaps help with their care needs as they age, I would feel ill equipped if I had no idea of their wants and desires and the reality of their situation. Do they have long term care insurance? What type of health insurance/Medicare have they elected? If they elect to remain at home with care or move to a care facility, what could they afford? Or, if I know they might be struggling financially, I also have a better idea of what is going on and how I might help.
I think its still a tough subject-I covered some points and advice on talking about it in my last enewsletter and I think it will continue to be a struggle for a lot of us. But, I’ll still encourage people to talk it out…
Not everyone is blessed with an ideal family situation so these conversations can be made even more difficult based on family dynamics, so I know its not always so easy. But, perhaps it is another “teachable moment” we can take away.
And, of course, there are a lot more important conversations to have as well. In “times like these” I think we all try to focus on what is important and it really isn’t “things”, it really is family and friends and pulling together.