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May 22, 2021

When it comes to money, mother does know best: study

When it comes to talking about money, somebody in the family has to take charge. And, more often than not, that likely to be mom.

Mothers are more likely than fathers to have in-depth financial discussions with their adult children on topics ranging from health care needs to living expenses in retirement, according to a recent study from Fidelity Investments.

Mothers describe themselves as “the empathizer” in the family while more than half of fathers see themselves as “the pragmatist” when discussing finances with their children.

Despite a general reluctance to talk about money in the first place within most families, the survey found 64% of mothers said it's “not at all difficult” to at least start a conversation with their child about their savings and investments, compared with 54% of fathers.


More mothers than fathers report having had comprehensive discussions with their adult children about estate planning or wills, health and eldercare topics, and the ability to cover living expenses in retirement.

As a result, adult children speaking with a female parent get more details on their parents’ retirement plans, and may be able to avoid miscommunication in the future -- a key factor in maintaing healthy money relationships, suggests Lori Sackler, author of the "The M Word: The Money Talk Every Family Needs to Have About Wealth and Their Financial Future."

For example, more mothers (13% vs. 3% of fathers) are planning on an adult child caring for them if they become ill, while more fathers (47% vs. 32% of mothers) are counting on their spouse — both important details for adult children to be aware of when talking with parents about the future, Sackler adds.

Who leads the money talks in your family? Was it always thus?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...