Sure, spend some money on flowers and cards, and maybe a nice silk scarf. But what does Mom want and need besides your love and attention? The thing most moms want is peace of mind.
Every Mom worries about her children. It's a running theme, a part of being a mother -- and as familiar and unremarkable as the beating of her heart. Sometimes her worries accelerate as she watches the playground activity or sends a child off to school or sees her son or daughter head down the aisle to be married.
Now, it's your turn to contribute to Mom's peace of mind, instead of heightening her anxieties. How can you do that? Start by making sure that she is financially organized and not in jeopardy of losing her savings to some financial scam. And by letting her know that you are on sound financial footing, as well.
As you see, that involves a conversation that many are reluctant to have. Sharing money issues and concerns requires a great degree of trust and respect. You're walking on shaky ground. No one wants to be intrusive -- or intruded upon.
Can you start that conversation? Perhaps it starts by revealing your own worries about yourself - whether you're the mom or the adult child. If you open the discussion in a general way -- complaining about low interest rates on savings, or worrying about how high the stock market can go, or whether the economy is really recovering -- you can start out on a general path and then move to specifics.
If you trot out your fears -- of being a "bag lady," or of being overwhelmed by credit card debt or student loans, or wondering whether you can afford to buy a home -- you can start a moment of sharing.
Of course, you have to pick the right moment. I'd suggest doing it after the Mother's Day mimosa and before the grandchildren start whining about going home. Or maybe it's some other time that you set up to take Mom out alone to lunch or dinner -- an invitation extended in your Mother's Day card.
Here's another way to start the process. If you go to www.TerrySavage.com and input your email address in the yellow pop-up box, you will by return email get a link to my free, Personal Financial Organizer form. You can print out as many as you like. Print an extra one for mom.
The process of filling in the form will encourage discussion whether from listing her financial advisors, to when the will or estate plan was last updated, and how many credit cards are outstanding or where the life insurance policies are. (Do the same for yourself on your own form; you may be surprised at what you've left undone.)
This is not to suggest that parents have to reveal everything to their grown children -- or adult children to their aging parents. But it will give everyone an incentive to at least get the process started, and leave instructions -- just in case. You'll be surprised what a weight it will be off Mom's mind when she can simply say: "It's all organized dear, and if anything happens the instructions to find everything are on the form in my top drawer."
More Peace of Mind
There's one other step you can take to provide peace of mind. It's every mother's worry that she will be dependent on her children. And, frankly, considering the cost of care for seniors, it should be a worry for adult children. Just when their kids are in college, they may be paying for a home care aide for mom or inviting Mom to stay in the guest room.
A long term care insurance policy pays costs that aren't covered by Medicare or supplements. And it allows Mom (or Dad) to stay in their home as long as possible.
You've probably heard stories of huge policy price increases, but that's now mostly in the past. And just buying an affordable three years of coverage should be enough for most situations. Adult children can each contribute to the annual premiums, making it fair for everyone. And the peace of mind is priceless.
So, as you are showing your love for Mom this Mother's Day, take a look at the holiday from her point of view. It's more than brunch and flowers and cards. It's really all about love. That's priceless, too.
And that's The Savage Truth.