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Moms Are Better Than Dads (About Money Talks)

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OK, so maybe I'm a little biased. But a new survey finds what we mothers have known all along: We're better than dads when it comes to discussing money matters with our adult kids.

"Moms are more likely and open to having deep, detailed discussions," says Lauren Brouhard, a senior vice president for retirement with Fidelity Investments, which conducted the survey.

"What's really important is that these not just be surface discussions," Brouhard adds. "Nobody wants surprises down the road, so it's important that they have these conversations now, when they're not reacting to some financial or health emergency."

Of course, not all families are alike. But generally, moms more than dads initiate discussions with their kids about living comfortably in retirement, caring for elders and estate planning, according to the findings, which were released Tuesday. The parents polled were age 55 and older.

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Among the findings:

  • 70 percent of moms, and only 55 percent of dads, say they'd had comprehensive talks with their adult children about what it takes to be financially secure in retirement.
  • 79 percent of moms had discussed wills or estate planning with their adult kids, compared with 69 percent of fathers.
  • 66 percent of moms, and 56 percent of dads,  had discussed health topics and caring for elders.

Yet, interestingly, more than half of the dads surveyed (54 percent) say they see themselves as "the pragmatist" when having financial conversations with their adult children.

Moms describe themselves as "the empathizer" in the family more than dad does (15 percent vs. 6 percent). Perhaps that's why 64 percent of mothers surveyed say it's "not at all difficult" to start a conversation with their child about their savings and investments compared with 54 percent of fathers.

When it comes to caregiving, mothers more than fathers (13 percent vs. 3 percent) say they expect an adult child to care for them if they become ill. More fathers than mothers (47 percent vs. 32 percent), however, are counting on their spouse in that situation.

As Mother's Day approaches on Sunday,  a separate survey was just released about mom's worth. We may think we're priceless, but in fact, our value has steadily declined over the last two years.

It turns out that the value of mom in 2013 is $59,862 , down from $60,182 in 2012, and from $61,436 in 2011, according to's annual Mother's Day Index. The index uses wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to calculate mom's value based on a list of household tasks.


The moms surveyed had children age 12 and under living at home.

"Average wages for typical mom jobs have been dropping, pushing down mom's annual value," says Amy Danise, editorial director of "But the cheaper wages make it easier to hire someone else to do mom's jobs, if a family wanted to outsource mom."

When asked how much they'd have to pay someone else to do all their household work, most mothers surveyed (56 percent of 500 moms) place their own value at less than $40,000 a year, while 7 percent put their value at $100,000 or more, according to the survey of mothers.

Perhaps this detail should be revealed  after Mother's Day -- but 62 percent of dads put mom's value at less than $40,000.

If they could hire someone to do all their household jobs, moms say they'd spend the extra time:

  • With family: 40 percent.
  • Traveling or visiting museums, parks, historical sites and the like: 11 percent.
  • Doing exercise or playing sports: 9 percent.

What do fathers think mom would do with those extra hours? They said mom would spend time:

  • With family: 25 percent.
  • Shopping: 15 percent.
  • Reading: 8 percent.

As if we didn't know this already: "A mother's value at home is often overlooked," Danise says.

Photo 1: Playingwithbrushes/flickr 

Photo 2: Juan Monino/Getty Images

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