The Money Talk

How to have the money talk

Do you and your parents talk about money? You should. Here’s how to do it, without making everyone at the table squirm.

Podcast transcript


PETE: You’re listening to How Not to Move Back In with Your Parents, here on the IU MoneySmarts Radio Network. I am your handsome host, Pete the Planner. That’s a subjective statement. Joining me as always is not a subjective statement, that’s Alex, hello.

ALEX: Hi there.

PETE: You look all right. So this week on the show, we’re gonna talk about, money and family. So here’s the thing. I wanna know, do you like talking about money with your family or is it awkward for you? Cuz at some point, it’s not awkward, and then it crosses to awkward based on age, and what you got going on. Where you at?

ALEX: It’s not as much awkward, but if my parents are taking the time to talk about money with me at this point, it’s usually gonna be not a good thing.

PETE: You don’t think so? Their money or your money?

ALEX: My money.

PETE: You think they’re talking about money with you, that there’s something wrong?

ALEX: Yeah, I’m doing something wrong at that point.

PETE: You don’t think, several reasons you’re on this show. But I think you have really kinda a normal existence, I think what you do is what a lot of other people do. I think you kinda certainly epitomize student life. So I think, that’s interesting to me, cuz I never really viewed it that way. I never viewed if you go to a college student and talk to them about money as their parent, that the student may say, well, I’m doing something wrong.

ALEX: Well, it’s gonna be because we think of the conversation as, you need to make more money, you need to be saving more money. There’s really not too much of a place to be focused on what you’re doing right. It’s gonna be if there are errors, then those need to be fixed. You know what I mean?

PETE: Would you ever? So obviously, you and I both know, everyone makes financial mistakes. And we all pretty much know what most of them are. Some of them we don’t realize we did til much later. But if you were to go home this Thanksgiving break and say man, I can’t believe I did this in October. Would you ever do that, kind of like confessional style, or is that not your thing?

ALEX: Well, I wouldn’t ever do anything bad.

PETE: Well, right, sure.

ALEX: So, I don’t know what you are talking about first of all.

PETE: Sure, of course.

ALEX: But, if I were hypothetically to do that and spend too much money, then that would be a tough conversation because I feel like, even though kids, some kids are more comfortable doing it than others. If you have to maybe ask your parents for money, or something like that, it’s not the best conversation, no matter what.

PETE: Yeah, I screwed up with my money, by the way, can I have some money? That doesn’t really play very well.

ALEX: That’s not great.

PETE: How about if you did kind of a, where I’m at student loan wise at the semester of to kind of have a talk about the next semester during Thanksgiving? Is that something that seems reasonable? I mean again, you can tell me to shove it, but I think that seems somewhat reasonable.

ALEX: No, I think that’s something you need to do, especially if you do need money. If you do need money, you have to be honest about that and say look, I may have messed up here, but I know what I did wrong. I will need this much money this next semester to get by. And explain why, how much money you have, things like that. You’ve gotta show them or else they can’t help.

PETE: Not to get all deep on you here, but from a perspective standpoint that week of Thanksgiving where people kind of step back and kind of take inventory of their life a little bit. And they’re thankful, and don’t get me wrong, the materialism starts up Friday morning with Black Friday sales, or should I say-

ALEX: Thursday night


PETE: Thursday night, but it’s almost a time to step back and say all right, I’m almost done with this semester. I have, technically speaking, eight semesters that I gotta deal with as a college student, this is where I stand. This is what I’ve done to myself financially this year, and the reality is what? You have after thanksgiving four weeks left of school?

ALEX: If that, usually for us I believe it’s three.

PETE: Okay, so three weeks left. And so what you’re almost saying is, have I won or lost my financial semester so far? Do you think you’d be able to assess that come Thanksgiving? If you’d be able to say, all right, I won or lost so far this year?

ALEX: Definitely.

PETE: You could do that?

ALEX: Definitely, yeah. By that time, you should know where you’re at. You should not be spending too much money during finals week. All the expenditures finals week are gonna be for food and coffee.

PETE: Yeah, coffee.

ALEX: But you should already know what you’re gonna be spending on that by then. You should know how much money you have left. Three weeks is not that long of a time where you shouldn’t know what to expect. So you should definitely have a good idea of where you’re at.

PETE: All right, so here’s what we’re doing. This is the Pete the Planner action tip brought to you by IU MoneySmarts. I completely just made up that sponsorship. You think they’ll sponsor this tip?

ALEX: I hope so.

PETE: All right here’s what we got, Pete the Planner, what did we call this thing?

ALEX: Action tip.

PETE: Here we go, all right. I want everyone listening to this, I want you to take a moment and objectively step back and say, have I won or lost financially so far this semester? That’s all you gotta do. Now here’s the thing, you may have said, I blew it, it didn’t go too well. Have a listen to the podcast.

ALEX: You’ve already lost.

PETE: Right, I buy too much meat loaf. What, I don’t know what people spend their money on. There’s three weeks left, can I still win with three weeks to go? Cuz here’s the thing, let’s talk business for a second here. Most businesses are considered to be a successful business if 10 out of the 12 months out of their year are profitable. Okay, so it’s considered to be a successful business if 10 out of 12 months they made more than they spent. So if you kinda break down a semester, what you can say is, so far I’m losing, but I got three weeks left. Is it possible to cross over and finish with some momentum? And I think that’s a reasonable thing to do.

ALEX: Yeah, for sure.

PETE: Cuz you say, you already said you’re going in to the end of the semester without spending a lot of money.

ALEX: Right, and if you can make up for the money you may have blown earlier in the semester in the last couple weeks, then by all means you should.

PETE: So that’s that. I want perspective over the holiday season. Believe me, talking about money with your family is not gonna be any easier in the future than it is right now. When you’re a college student and you can sit and talk to your parents as the adult you are and the adults they are and have a decent money conversation, take advantage of it, cuz it only gets worse. Cuz here’s the thing, as you get older, not only is the turkey potentially dry that your mom is making, which in itself brings a degree of awkwardness and dissatisfaction the likes of which I can’t even describe. But number two, you bring up money at thanksgiving as you get older, forget about it, terribly stressful.

ALEX: Take care of it while you’re young and while you can, be honest.

PETE: While you’re young.


ALEX: We need to cut it off there.


PETE: All right, so here’s the thing. Again, evaluate how you’ve done. And then go to your parents and say, can we just talk about what I’ve done so far? You’re not doing confession, I spent too much on pizza, not doing that. You’re saying, help me think through the rest of this year, tuition, expenses, what I’m gonna do for books. And just, you’re almost done.

ALEX: Just lay it out there.

PETE: You’re almost done, lay it out there. So there it is, that’s the Pete the Planner action tip brought to you by IU MoneySmarts, so there it is.

ALEX: That’s great.

PETE: Thank you, all right. So if you want more resources and ideas, please go to Thanks for listening to this episode of How Not to Move Back In with Those Parents of Yours on the IU MoneySmarts Radio Network.