Money Talks, So Should You

You may want to start money talks with mom

Mothers are more empathetic on money matters, a study shows.

Brian O'Connell
by Brian O'Connell, MainStreet contributor

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Mothers Day is big business for U.S. retailers, whether mom wants you to spend big money on her or not (more on that in a moment.)

According to MasterCard, Americans spend more than $16.2 billion on Mothers Day weekend.

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On the Friday before Mothers Day alone, MasterCard says, its network of U.S. florists takes in $20 million from consumers buying flowers. That makes mom’s big day also a big day for florists — they do 35 percent more business that Friday compared with any other day of the year.

Is mom really OK with all that spending?

Maybe or maybe not, but one thing’s for sure: Mothers are far more likely than fathers to give you an opinion on your spending habits — on Mothers Day and every other day of the year, apparently.

That’s a primary conclusion drawn from Fidelity Investment’s most recent Intra-Family Generational Finance Study. The study, the third installment in a series from the Boston mutual fund firm, focuses on the differences and similarities among family members on personal financial matters.

Fidelity says mothers are more natural “empathizers” than fathers on money matters, which makes it easier for children to discuss their finances. As a result:

  • More mothers than fathers (79 percent to 69 percent) have had “comprehensive” dialogue about estate planning and wills with their adult children.
  • More mothers than fathers (66 percent to 56 percent) discussed elderly care and disability insurance with their adult children.
  • More mothers than fathers (70 percent to 55 percent) asked their adult offspring about covering living expenses in retirement.

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Also, dads don’t always look at their kids as a source of financial help in their old age — only 3 percent of dads say their kids should help with medical bills and adult medical care in their old age (compared with 13 percent of moms.)

And significantly more fathers say they depend on their spouses for financial support when they grow older and become ill than they do their children. Fidelity says moms may be more concerned over their children’s financial situation than their own money picture — an unhealthy view, according to U.S. fathers.

To bridge that gap, Fidelity says adult children should talk to both parents — but at least one right away, to get the ball rolling. No family wants any big, negative financial surprises coming down the pike, so the more robust the dialogue the better.

“Regardless of whom these conversations begin with, discussions about finances are deeply personal and very difficult, and often even taboo in some families,” says Lauren Brouhard, a senior vice president at Fidelity Investments. “We encourage all families to engage in detailed conversations on these financial topics and, as this research indicates, starting the discussion with mom may be a good strategy.”

Come to think of it, that could be the best Mothers Day present you give mom this year: Peace of mind that comes from a frank discussion on finance, along with a plan to make those finances stronger.


Brian O’Connell has 15 years of experience covering business news and trends, particularly in the financial, health care and career management sectors. He has written 14 books and appeared on CNN, Fox News, CNBC, C-Span, Bloomberg, CBS Radio and other media outlets and in such publications as The Wall Street Journal and The He is a former Wall Street bond trader.