At a certain point, most of what you knew about money came from your parents. They were the distributors of your sacred allowance, the funders of your phone bill, the providers of your health insurance. Before you were old enough to procure an income of your own, they were your bank — if you wanted money, you had to ask.
As you get older, this changes. You become your own source of capital. You work to finance your home, your clothing, your groceries, your cell phone. And while your parents may remain among the only people you feel totally comfortable discussing money with, they're no longer responsible. They're confidants, not providers.
But what happens when the order is reversed? What happens when you become the financial support system for your parents? It's only natural that, at a certain point, your income is more substantial — or at the very least, more regular. So after a lifetime of turning to your parents for money advice, how do you begin to talk to them about their finances?
Apparently, one in every five millennials is offering financial support to their parents -- many of whom are carrying serious debts of their own. We're talking student loans, mortgage payments, and your standard credit card bills. But how do you say no to the people who have given you financial care for your entire life?
"When you reach a certain age, you become aware of everything your parents did for you during your childhood," says financial columnist Patty Lamberti. "And you'll do anything to help them during their time of need. But you need to think about yourself, and your old age, too."
According to the Washington Post, only 41% of workers have planned -- at all -- for retirement. That being the case, the Post suggests preempting a discussion with your parents with a conversation amongst siblings (if you have them). This way you can clarify what you all are capable of giving, and how, as a unit, you can best support mom and dad. You have a built-in team to ease the burden of the conversation.
When it's finally time to sit down and talk, siblings or not, be sure to time your interaction carefully -- just prior to Thanksgiving dinner is probably not the moment to lay it all on the table. You want to find time to sit quietly, as far removed from major stressors as possible.
While you discuss your future financial relationship, think about ways you can help that don't involve dishing out cash. Can you help them relocate? Cancel services they don't use? Downsize in some small way? How can you help them regain control of their own finances?
Keep in mind the fact that you are, of course, still responsible for yourself, and if you put yourself in serious debt, your kids, too, will be struggling to support you. You don't want to allow this to become a cycle. "Remember that a fiscally reckless parent is still your parent," the Post declares. "Budget for the help you can afford. But don't let his or her financial sins be your burden. It's not yours to carry."
Legally, you will not be responsible for your parents debts when they pass away, unless you co-signed on something like a property. Be a source of support for your parents, but be clear with them that you cannot offer your services past a point. You have your own family to care for, and this should remain the priority. Whatever help you provide should not make you liable for debts that are not yours.
If you're looking for a little more support, think about consulting a resource. Try reading through the guide Merrill Lynch put together, and if you need more support, feel free to reach out to a representative to talk through some of your concerns. The same goes for Northwest Mutual -- check out their written advice before giving them a call. And last but not least, set up a meeting with a representative at your parents' bank. Let them offer you their thoughts on how to move forward.
With all this in mind, do not lost sight of the fact that you love your parents. They raised you. They taught you most of what you know when it comes to money -- and just about everything else in the world. Support them, but don't ruin yourself in the process. Be there for them, even if dishing out cash is not an option for you. And when you speak to them, be sure to clarify that that you are infinitely grateful for they ways they support you. But that gratitude doesn't warrant a lifetime of debt on your own part.
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- How to Talk to Aging Parents About Money | FINRA.org ›
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Between buying a new home and transporting yourself and your belongings to it, moving can be an expensive process. One often underrecognized cost of moving occurs before one's original house has even been sold, and that's staging the house. Homeowners often spend hundreds of dollars making a home appealing to potential buyers. To ease the financial burden of moving, here are several tips for staging your home on a budget.
Downsize Instead of Storing
The goal of staging a home is to create a blank canvas that potential buyers can imagine their own lives painted upon. To accomplish this, homeowners should depersonalize the home as much as possible, removing items that are specific to their family and eliminating clutter. This is where homeowners often incur their first costs as they rush to put as many older things in storage as possible.
To cut costs, focus on downsizing rather than storing items. Look for items that you can sell, donate, or give away. For remaining items, look for alternative places to store them, such as a friend or relative's house. This will also reduce the cost of moving your belongings when it is time to go to the new house.
DIY What You Can
There are times when homeowners should bring in a professional to manage home renovations and decorating, such as when a task requires specialized skills. These types of jobs, when done incorrectly, will incur even greater costs if attempted on your own. However, many of the home improvement tasks that go into staging a home are simple enough that the homeowner can DIY them, such as painting, installing a backsplash, or refinishing the deck. Doing these tasks yourself will save you a significant amount of money.
Don't Redo, Update
Homeowners are often eager to make their houses look as appealing to buyers as possible. However, recall that the point of staging is depersonalization, making a home presentable so buyers can mentally impose their own style onto it. When staging a home on a budget, focus less on completely transforming the space and more on making what is there look presentable. For instance, if you wanted to give your bedroom a facelift, trying to replace the furniture and flooring would be pointless unless it was damaged or unkempt. Simply organizing the space and replacing the bed's comforter would be sufficient.
Another way to update the space without entirely redoing it is to rearrange it to maximize the space that is already there. For instance, pulling the furniture away from the walls will make a room appear bigger and allows more space for those touring the house. Using window trimmings that maximize natural light and incorporating wall mirrors can also make a room seem more spacious.
Raising a larger family than most means that your lifestyle is going to change. Costs will continue to multiply as your family grows larger. However, just because your family is large doesn't mean your quality of life needs to suffer. It just means you need to make a few adjustments to help things work smoother and more efficiently. We've compiled a couple of money-saving tips for larger families to help you get the most out of your dollars.
Always Buy in Bulk
The benefit of having a larger family is that things you buy in bulk rarely ever go to waste. Smaller families can benefit from buying in bulk, of course, but your large family will see the most use out of shopping in large quantities. You'll want to avoid going to smaller stores for necessities such as groceries and clothes, as these places generally have higher markups on their items.
Buy Wholesale Items Online
If you want to take buying in bulk to the next level, one of the best money-saving tips for large families is to buy online from wholesalers. Buying online comes with a number of benefits that you won't get when you go to a physical store:
- You don't have to drag your kids to the store with you
- You have a lower probability of making impulse purchases
- You can search for exactly what you need
- Wholesalers sell in very large quantities for a lower price per item
Never Throw Away Something Useful
When you have to buy things for multiple children, your costs to replace items will be much higher. That's why it's so important to keep everything you can. Clothing is a big part of this. Hand-me-downs can prevent you from needing to replace entire closets every year. Try to repair or upcycle any clothes that may have damage, as this is usually much cheaper than buying brand-new items.
Stick to a Budget
When you support a large family, expenses can sometimes get away from you. Proper budgeting helps to keep the extra purchases that add up to a minimum. Budgeting correctly can save you a lot of heartache in the long run. It's up to you how much control you want to take; you can make your budget weekly or monthly, depending on how tight a ship you need to run. What's important to remember is that making the budget is only the first step—sticking to it is where you'll really need to enact some willpower.
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Sometimes there is no choice—a home needs to be sold in the winter.
Spring may be the most popular time to put your house on the market, but homes do sell in the colder months. With fewer houses available, your home may be someone's only choice when house hunting in your neighborhood. As your neighbors hold out until spring, you'll already be done and ready to shop for your next house!
Here are a few tips for selling a home in the winter to get you on the right track.
Keep Paths Safe and Landscaping Fresh
Landscaping is the last thing on a homeowner's mind in the winter. Everything was cut back in the fall and may now be covered in snow. Still, take a walk around the house and yard to check everything out. Branches may have fallen from heavy snow, leaving a mess in the yard. Keep everything neat and tidy.
The last thing you need is a potential buyer slipping on the ice-covered walk in front of your house. Buyers often consider those moments bad omens, and this can affect their decisions. Shovel, snow blow, spread salt—do whatever you have to do to keep the driveway and walking paths clear, and don't forget the porch and deck.
Make the Inside Warm and Cozy
In cold weather, buyers won't spend a lot of time examining a home's exterior. Instead, impress them with the inside by creating an atmosphere which causes them to want to move in.
When there's time, leave wintery types of snacks and drinks, such as hot cocoa and cookies, available on a table during showings. This gives your home a welcoming feel to buyers.
Light the fireplace (if you have one) for a lovely ambience and set your thermostat to a comfortable setting. A warm home in the winter is much more appealing than a chilly one.
Make Your Home Less Personal
Understandably, this can be a tough thought for homeowners. After all, you've spent years creating memories in your home. To buyers, though, they need to picture it as their own. Too much personality makes that difficult.
It's always important to stage your home in a way that makes it look clean, comfortable, and move-in ready. Don't feel offended by the idea of taking family pictures down and replacing them with generic décor. This will help your home sell faster by helping buyers envision their own things there.
Cleanliness and Maintenance
Clean, clean, and clean some more. Make appliances, counters, and floors shine. No matter how old your home is, it needs to feel like new to potential buyers. If you aren't into dusting, now is the time to try. Don't forget window coverings that might need washing.
Be prepared ahead of time for home inspections by taking care of maintenance now. HVAC systems, plumbing, and electrical should all be up to code and running smoothly.
Use these tips for selling a home in the winter, exercise patience during the slower months, and your home will sell before you know it.