Which Parent is Better for Financial Discussions?

Just in time for Mothers Day, two surveys report conflicting results on the money management skills of moms. One says moms give children more detailed financial conversations, while another says children find their mothers uncomfortable with managing money.

Mothers don’t have much confidence in their children’s money management skills, but children think their moms are better at giving financial advice than their fathers. Or maybe kids think their moms are uncomfortable handling money. Two surveys tell two very different stories.

Fidelity Investments’ survey found that adult children have substantially more detailed financial conversations with their mothers. Mothers communicated more than fathers on a variety of financial topics:

• Estate planning or wills — 79% of mothers vs. 69% of fathers

• Health and eldercare — 66% of mothers vs. 56% of fathers

• Covering living expenses in retirement — 70% of mothers vs. 55% of fathers

Meanwhile, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) reported its survey revealed that the majority of people viewed their mother’s as being uncomfortable with managing money. About a third (35%) said their mothers are pretty savvy managing money and enjoys it.

However, 21% believes their mothers are intimidated by financial matters; 26% thinks mothers see managing money as a necessary evil and don’t enjoy it; and 18% reported that their mothers have never managed money on their own.

Fidelity also surveyed parents and found that 64% of mothers said it is “not at all difficult” to start a conversation with their children about savings and investments. In comparison, only 54% of fathers say the same. Perhaps it is because mothers are more than twice as likely to describe themselves as “the empathizer” in the family. Or many it’s because mothers are looking out for their own futures.

The Fidelity survey revealed that more mothers (13% compared to 3% of fathers) plan on an adult child caring for them if they become ill. More fathers (47% compared to 32% of mothers) are counting on their spouses.

And yet, significantly more fathers (40% compared to 26% of mothers) are worried that their spouse won’t be financially prepared if they pass away first.

“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,” said Lauren Brouhard, senior vice president, Fidelity Investments. “Regardless of whom these conversations begin with, discussions about finances are deeply personal and very difficult, and often even taboo in some families. Planning together and learning from one another on a broad range of financial topics can have a positive impact on your family.”