The Talk: Um, Mom … Just How Much Are You Worth?

One real world worry for Americans is how they will survive after they retire, and for many young adults with aging parents that worry extends to, “Will I have to take care of myself and my parents?”

Well, according to research by Fidelity Investments, more parent units are going to be more comfortable after their working years than their children know — simply because the children have not asked.

The survey from the investment company highlights the “vast disconnect” about children’s perceptions of their parents financial health and the reality. The study shows that the average amount of retirement savings for most parents is $100,000, not bad if the family lives within its means.

Almost all money conversations are uncomfortable, but if the younger generation in the family thinks that it’s about time to have a money conversation with their parents, there are tips to help make the conversation easier.

For starters, begin with the happy news first. It’s important to treat the subject delicately because the financial picture could be good or bad, and many people have an emotional history tied to their money, so be polite, respectful but direct.

Also, don’t wait until a crisis hits for the conversation to happen. By the time something major occurs time is of the essence. Know what’s going on long before it’s necessary to do so.

Linda Stern has more useful advice on how parents and children can talk realistically about life after retirement.