The Tony Steuer Podcast

Get Ready with Cameron Huddleston Financial Literacy and Family Communication

December 04, 2020 Tony Steuer
The Tony Steuer Podcast
Get Ready with Cameron Huddleston Financial Literacy and Family Communication
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The Tony Steuer Podcast
Get Ready with Cameron Huddleston Financial Literacy and Family Communication
Dec 04, 2020
Tony Steuer

Start by educating yourself, there are resources out there that you can access easily and that you should be taking advantage of. Learn as much about personal finance as you can, so that you can take control of your finances. ” - Cameron Huddleston

In this episode of Get Ready, I spoke with Cameron Huddleston, award winning journalist and author of “Mom and Dad, We Need To Talk”, about her book and her financial philosophy. We also discussed how people can have family, inter-generational money conversations  along with Cameron’s views on financial literacy.

Bio: Cameron Huddleston is the author of Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk: How to Have Essential Conversations With Your Parents About Their Finances. She also is an award-winning journalist with nearly 20 years of experience writing about personal finance. Her work has appeared in Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Chicago Tribune, Forbes.com, MSN, Yahoo! and many more online and print publications. 

Show Notes Transcript

Start by educating yourself, there are resources out there that you can access easily and that you should be taking advantage of. Learn as much about personal finance as you can, so that you can take control of your finances. ” - Cameron Huddleston

In this episode of Get Ready, I spoke with Cameron Huddleston, award winning journalist and author of “Mom and Dad, We Need To Talk”, about her book and her financial philosophy. We also discussed how people can have family, inter-generational money conversations  along with Cameron’s views on financial literacy.

Bio: Cameron Huddleston is the author of Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk: How to Have Essential Conversations With Your Parents About Their Finances. She also is an award-winning journalist with nearly 20 years of experience writing about personal finance. Her work has appeared in Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Chicago Tribune, Forbes.com, MSN, Yahoo! and many more online and print publications. 

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the get ready with Tony Stewart podcast. I'm pleased to be joined today by Cameron Huddleston. In this episode, we'll be discussing Cameron's book, mom and dad. We need to talk and Cameron's financial philosophy. Kehrmann welcome to get ready.

Speaker 2:

Hi, thanks so much for having me here. Yeah .

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Thank you so much for coming on and I appreciate it. Glad to have you. Uh , so before we get into our discussion , uh, like to tell you a little bit about Cameron, Cameron Huddleston is the author of mom and dad. We need to talk had , have essential conversations with your parents about their finances. Cameron is also an award winning journalist with nearly 20 years experience writing about personal finance. Her work has appeared in Kiplinger's personal finance, the Chicago Tribune, forbes.com, MSN, Yahoo, and many more online and print publications. So Cameron, can you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself and how you got started in personal finance?

Speaker 2:

Sure. So I was a journalism major in college and I did not actually graduate thinking. I would go into personal finance journalism. I was just a reporter covering, you know, all the typical things that a reporter at a newspaper would cover crime city, governments. And then my husband and I ended up in Washington DC. And while I was here, I got a job at Dow Jones newswires as a business reporter. And because I had not taken any business classes in college because I was journalist , not a numbers person, I thought, you know, I should, I should go get a graduate degree and, you know, get some more education in economics, business statistics and American university has a master's in journalism where you can choose a specialty. So I chose economic journalism allowed me to take some of those classes that I never took in undergrad. And when I graduated, I was graduating into an economic downturn. It was 2001 shortly before the September 11th terrorist attacks. And so Dow Jones had a hiring freeze to not get my job back there. You know, other places where I was really interested in working such as Bloomberg, they also had a hiring freeze, but Kiplinger's personal finance magazine was looking for an editor for its website. I had no experience writing about personal finance, but they were willing to take a chance on me, got the job. I was there for 14 years before taking another position with go rates as a column to there . That's what launched my personal finance writing career. And honestly, I learned everything on the job and I'm so grateful that I had that experience because to be honest, I didn't know much about personal finance myself. And it gave me this incredible education that I've been able to apply to my own life. I've learned so much about managing my own finances through all the years that I've been able to interview all sorts of experts and, you know, just everyday people who have figured it out

Speaker 1:

Well, that had such a common origin story is so many people go, you know, I didn't attend to get into personal finance, whether they're , you know, on your side as a writer or they're actually in the industry, I'm not sure I've talked to many people go. Yeah. You know, when I was growing up, I was burning to get into insurance investments . So it's so funny. Um, you know, that's a common theme. Um, so now that you've been in personal finance for a while , can you share a little bit about what your , uh , financial philosophy is?

Speaker 2:

I would say that my financial philosophy is be prepared, be prepared for emergencies, be prepared for retirement, have a plan because you know, just as you wouldn't get in your car and drive across the country without a map, you are not going to achieve financial security. You're not going to get where you want to go without a plan. And fortunately , there are so many resources available online. Now, so many books you can check out from the library so that you can educate yourself and create that plan that helps you reach your financial goals.

Speaker 1:

Well, that's great. I think that's such an important point is , um, you know, having a plan , so many people start off perhaps being product driven or service driven rather than having an overview of where they'd like to go. Um, so I think that's such an important point. Um, so, you know, since we're on the topic , uh, why do you feel that financial literacy is important?

Speaker 2:

Well, you know, no, one's going to care as much about your money and your finances as you. So if you don't learn the basics, I really do feel like you're going to, you're going to struggle financially. You might get by, but you're not going to get ahead. And I think for most of us, our goal really is to get ahead and that's going to vary from person to person. I mean, for some people getting ahead might mean launching your own business for others. It might just mean getting out of that paycheck to paycheck. And so if you can educate yourself, then you are going to increase your chances of being able to get ahead financially.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's so important. And what I really love about that philosophy is that it's unique. Each of us has a different set of goals and circumstances, and that it's not a one size fits all, is that, you know, really to be successful as we have to figure out what's important to us. So I love hearing that . Um, so you know, let's get into a little bit about your book. Um, I love the title. Can you tell us a little bit about him , mom and dad? We need to talk,

Speaker 2:

I, I actually was inspired to write this book because of my experience with both of my parents, mainly my mom, but my father also, I did not have conversations with my parents about their finances. In fact, money was a taboo topic in my family when I was growing up. I remember my dad always saying, don't talk about money. Don't ever ask people about money or about their income or anything like that. It's it's impolite. And my father passed away when he was 61 without a will. He was in a second marriage. And so that made things complicated. Now it could have been a lot worse. And I know for a lot of families, it's a disaster when someone dies without a will, but it was a shock to me that my father, who was an attorney who knew the importance of having estate planning, documents died without his own estate planning documents. And then my mother, she was being on her own. And I , um, I had, I did have a conversation with her when I moved back from Washington DC to my home state of Kentucky. I talked to her about looking into getting a long-term care insurance policy because I knew if she ever needed long-term care, long-term care insurance would help pay for it because I'm sure as you know, Tony Medicare does not cover long-term care, which a lot of people think, you know, think it does. So we had this conversation, she met with a long-term care insurance agent, but was not able to get a policy because of , um , an underlying health condition that she had. Well, I should have used that opportunity to sit down with her and say, mom, let's look at your finances and figure out what sort of resources you have to pay for care. If you ever need it, let's talk about what sort of care you would want if you ever needed it. But I didn't, it just, it didn't even Dawn on me to have that conversation. And then a few years later, my mom started showing signs of memory loss. And at that point I had to scramble, you know, fortunately I got her in to meet with an estate planning attorney quickly, and we drafted all the legal documents that she needed, power of attorney document to name me and my sister, her power of attorney to make financial decisions for her. She named as her healthcare proxies to make medical decisions for her. She updated her. Will. We got that in place just in time while she was still competent enough to sign all of those documents. And you have to be competent to sign those documents. If , if you are well into Alzheimer's, if you have had a stroke, if you are no longer competent and attorney's not going to let you sign those documents and then it's too late, and then you could end up in the court system. So, you know, going through this process and having to play detective to figure out what my mom's financial situation was like, made me realize other people are going through this or will be going through this. And people shouldn't have to figure this out on their own, like I did. And so I decided to write a book to help people have these conversations, so they would know what to ask. So they would know how to get through those, to those parents who are reluctant to have these conversations. And , um, hopefully hopefully I've achieved that with my book. Hopefully I am helping people have these conversations.

Speaker 1:

Well , that's great. I know that it really , um, fills a need. Uh, both for my personal experience , uh, when I was working as an advisor , um, is so often clients didn't relate to the rest of their family, what their plan was. Uh, and I know that it came up. I had a similar situation , uh, with my mother is , uh, when she passed away, no idea what was going on because, you know, w we didn't have that conversation. And I think we're of the generation too . Whereas you say is, you just don't talk about many . It's not considered plight or taboo or whatever. So, you know, that leads me into the question is, you know, the psychology of it, why are people hesitant to talk to family members about their finances?

Speaker 2:

When I found doing my research for my book is that there are several reasons that people are reluctant to have these conversations. First mining is a taboo topic. And so if your parents are telling you, you shouldn't talk about money, then of course, you're going to be reluctant to ask them about their finances. Maybe you know that your parents haven't handled their finances very well. And so you're afraid the conversation is going to be uncomfortable, that they're going to be embarrassed to talk about their finances. And it also brings up the issue of aging and death. And you might be aware that your parents are reluctant to discuss those topics. You might be reluctant to face the reality that your parents aren't always going to be with you and having these conversations makes that all to a parent. And so there are lots of reasons that people struggle to have these conversations. They think they're going to be incredibly awkward. They're afraid their parents are going to think they're being greedy or being nosy. Um , but I want people to realize that oftentimes these fears that we've built up inside our head are much worse than the reality. Most likely your parents are not going to get angry and threatened to disown you or tell you that you're being greedy or nosy. If you approach these conversations with love and respect. And if you let your parents know that you were looking out for their best interest. And so I don't think that these conversations need to be nearly as awkward as we think they might be.

Speaker 1:

That's great. I that's such great advice. I think it is all about how you frame it and , uh, the reference so that you don't get into those negative COPICS that if you're coming from a positive place and you're , uh , trying to frame it as just a planning issue so that you can make sure their wishes are followed. I think that's so important and that this is a conversation that so every family should have , uh , whether you have minimal assets or significant assets across the board , um, like your book should be a part of every financial planner , bookshelf , uh,

Speaker 2:

You know, and you brought up something just now that I want to elaborate on, because I know some people think that these conversations are really something that only wealthy families should be having, and that couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, I think lower income families and middle income families, it's even more important for them to be having these conversations because those parents are more likely to have to turn to their children for support as they age, they might not have enough in retirement savings and might need some help. They might not have a plan to pay for long-term care, which can be incredibly expensive, you know ? And even if you don't have a lot of assets, if you don't have a will that spells out who gets your property when you die, state law is going to determine that. And so people might be getting your things and your money, and you don't want those people to be getting your things in your money. And so it's important to have everything in writing to have that plan and to be prepared.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think that's an important point. And I think that people oftentimes don't understand it is that, you know, the state has a plan for you if you don't have a plan. And , uh, most likely the state's plan is not going to match what you would like to happen. Um , so you know, where do you think , um, how does mom and dad, we need to talk, help promote financial literacy and fit into the financial literacy conversation?

Speaker 2:

Well, I think as you said, it's , it's a conversation that everyone should be having. I, I think it's unfortunate that money is such a taboo topic. I think it's unfortunate that families are reluctant to have these conversations. And to be honest, it, it saddens me a little bit, especially when, you know, you hear from, you know , older adults who say, well, this is none of my kids business. And I'm thinking, well, if there's anyone you should be able to trust, it should be your own family. And, and you know, who are you going to be turning to in times of need? It's most likely going to be your family members. And so if you are going to be turning to your children for help, as you get older, you need to do them the favor of preparing them, giving them some information so that they actually can help you. Because not only, like you said, does the state have a will for you? If you don't have a, will the state state law of court, a judge can decide, who's going to make decisions about your finances and healthcare. If you haven't named someone yourself through that power of attorney document through the health care power of attorney documents. So important to have all of this in place before an emergency strikes so that people aren't scrambling and, you know, at a time when emotions are high, the last thing people are going to want to have to think about our finances. And so if you have this financial plan in place, it's going to make a difficult situation, much easier. All you have to do is say, okay, I've got the power of attorney. I can step in and start making financial decisions for mom and dad. The bank is going to talk to me. I'm not going to have to go to court and spend thousands of dollars and several months trying to be appointed my parents conservator to make these decisions for them. And so I , I do think that these conversations are a very important part of financial literacy. We focus so much on our own finances, but you know , if we're operating as a family unit, there need to be conversations among all family members and generations.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. That's such an important point. And I think the other thing that's such a good takeaway from your book is that it's about the communication. It's one thing to have, let's say an advanced healthcare directive, but if nobody knows about it and it's sitting in a drawer somewhere, it's not you any good. Uh , so I think that, and I love , um, that you really are reiterate that it needs to include all generations. Um, you know, that, that you need to have those conversations. Um, so as we're discussing that, how do you feel that we can improve financial literacy? Uh, I mean, we both know that financial literacy is not what should be in this country. What do you think we should do?

Speaker 2:

I think the first thing that people need to do is realize that you don't have to be an expert to manage your finances. Well, I think that people , um, you know, hear the term personal finance or finances, and it sounds frightening. It almost sounds like that calculus class that you avoided taking, because you're going to have to deal with a lot of numbers. It's, it's not nearly as complicated as you think it might be. I think people need to realize that first and foremost, I think that there are so many resources available that explain the basics of personal finance in simple everyday terms, you go to a website such as kiplinger.com or bankrate.com or nerdwallet.com or go banking rates.com, even forbes.com. All of these websites are trying to help educate people about financial issues. And I do believe that they do a wonderful job of explaining it to people in very simple terms, walking through the process of how to budget explaining to you, what type of insurance policies you need and how much you should be saving for retirement. Of course, it's always a good idea if you can afford it to work with a financial planner. And I think people also need to realize that that , um , meeting with a financial planner doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to have to spend a lot of money to do that. There are financial planners who charge by the hour. And so you can meet a few times and develop a plan and then be on your way. Of course, if you have more assets than you can hire someone for the long-term and they're going to be with you for the rest of your life, guiding you through all of your financial decisions. So lots of resources out there, and I think people should be taking advantage of them.

Speaker 1:

That's great. Yeah, I would completely agree. Is that , um, probably the intimidation factor as you started out. Um, it's such a key point is that it's like anything is that, you know, it may seem intimidating , uh, but if you take that small first step and start looking at the resources , um, and are terrific resources that you named , uh, that people could , um, take a look at is you don't have to start off by trading options. You could start off, you know , at the basics and just master the basics. Um, so, you know , what's your number one tip on being financially prepared?

Speaker 2:

I think , um, it's , it's hard to boil it down to just one, but I would say start by educating yourself what we've been talking about, you know , through this whole interview, there are resources out there that you can access easily. And , uh , I think you should be taking advantage of them to learn as much about personal finance as you can, so that you can take control of your finances, be prepared, have everything in place that you need to have in place so that you can achieve your financial goals. I think , um, you know, don't, don't make it out to be harder than it is because it is not as complicated as you might think.

Speaker 1:

That's such great advice. I mean, MLM , it , it comes back to education. It always comes back to education. I think with anything , uh, whatever you look at, it always starts with learning something. And that's , that's the key to personal finances in my book as well. Is that it's all about the education. Um, so Cameron, and I'm going to put links to your website, into your social handles , uh, in the show notes is w uh, what is the best place? Where can people learn more about you?

Speaker 2:

You can learn more about me and my [email protected]

Speaker 1:

Okay. Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for joining me today. It's been a pleasure, of

Speaker 2:

Course. Thank you so much for having me.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So thank you again. And , uh , for all of my listeners , uh, please remember to subscribe to the, get ready with Tony stir podcast until next time.