February 15, 2015

Over the holiday break, I got to spend two delightful weeks with my family and my partner’s family. It was truly wonderful to catch up, relax, and spend quality time together.

But it wasn’t all about relaxing. Ryan and I knew that we had to have some difficult conversations during our holiday visit.

Just a few months before, his dad had a health scare that put us in a panicked frenzy. At first he was fainting and in the hospital — we had so little information, and being a few states away, we assumed the worst.

Questions ran through our head. Should we go down there? When do we go down there? It was a stressful situation not having all the information upfront. For all we knew it could have been nothing, or it could have been very serious. It was the first time in my life that I realized how difficult it is living away from your parents. Even if we did hop on the next flight, nothing is promised to us.

Luckily, everything turned out alright. It was a pretty severe ulcer that kept him out of work for weeks.

Of course we were scared about his dad’s health — but to be honest, we were more scared for his mom. His mom relies on his dad 100% financially and has chosen a life as a homemaker — a relic of her old world in Romania. It’s all she knows. While she is an amazing cook and a wonderful homemaker, in her own words, she “doesn’t know how to pay a bill.”

Imagine our fright when we weren’t sure about his dad’s situation. We would have to go digging for his financial information, his insurance info, and more. We’d have to help her set-up everything and teach her how to pay bills, etc. It was a daunting thought.

We got off lucky this time, but we knew we had to have a difficult conversation during the holidays. We realized we knew nothing. Were they in debt? Did they have life insurance? Do they have plans in place when something happens? We were ill-equipped with answers and had only questions.

During the break, Ryan had a one-on-one with his dad. They started to talk about the future and current state of affairs. Thank goodness he did have a life insurance policy!

This situation was a pretty big wake up call for us. Both Ryan and I have one parent that relies 100% on the other financially. That tough reality is exacerbated by the fact that we are both only children and have no one else to call or rely on — we are our parents’ help, and we don’t have many resources either.

I’m so glad that we were able to have this important talk with our parents. More importantly, I’m glad that our parents have life insurance, to provide for their partners, if something happens.

I urge you to have a talk with your parents. Get a life insurance policy and prepare in advance. No one wants to deal with financial stuff in the face of emergency — so prepare now!

If you’re looking for an easy way to get started, check out Quotacy, a one-of-a-kind life insurance brokerage. Their website is super user-friendly and it takes only a matter of minutes to get a quote. Best part is that you don’t even have to put your contact info in to get a quote, so you won’t get spammed 🙂 What surprised me the most is just how affordable life insurance is, given how much it covers.

Have you ever been in a situation like this? Do you have any other advice to add?


This post was created in partnership with Quotacy


Melanie is a freelance writer currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy, and empowering people to take control of their finances. She writes about breaking up with debt, freelancing, and side hustle adventures at DearDebt.com.

Currently she puts more than 50% of her income towards debt, while living a frugal, fun life. In addition to her love of personal finance, art and music, she is also a karaoke master. Follow the adventure @DearDebtBlog.

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20 responses to “A Wake Up Call”

  1. Michelle says:

    I am an only child while one parent is remarried-the other is not. This is something that I’ve begun to think about A LOT and that is a big part of why I am changing my approach to my finances for the future.
    Michelle recently posted…Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups-Oh So DeliciousMy Profile

  2. I just had dinner with my cousins and they are going through a similar situation with their parents. Although it’s a bit reversed with their mom being very sick but their dad is taking care of her 100% and if something should happen to him first, they have no idea what is going to happen to her, and no one knows what their true financial situation is. You can tell it’s been weighing on them heavily.
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…Budgitude (Budget Attitude): AbundanceMy Profile

  3. CBuggle says:

    I have two divorced parents and one is very open to talking about things like this, and the other has never brought it up, but I know it’s time. My parents are in their mid-late 60s and both in great health right now. I also think about this for myself. I have made my sister the designee for everything related to my financial stuff. But I need to officially get a will and make sure she’d have easy access to all of my accounts. My best friend’s dad died of a long, drawn-out illness. He knew the end could come at any time so he prepared everything in one drawer so that all my friend had to do was open this drawer and everything was explained. I’m one of three siblings, but none of us really has much in the way of savings we could contribute to a medical crisis.

  4. It’s scary to think about having to deal with your parent’s money choices and thankfully Ryan’s dad was open about everything. My mom didn’t want to talk to me until I forced her to but my dad still won’t talk to me. I just wrote last week about the importance of life insurance to prevent your loved ones from emotional and financial hardship.
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…Backpack to AirbnbMy Profile

  5. I feel fortunate that both of my parents are financially literate. I actually worry about my dad more- if my mom died, I don’t know if he would know how to take care of himself! I think it’s important to have these conversations before it’s too late. I know where my parents stand financially and now I don’t have to worry.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted…Why Do People Sell Timeshares for $1?My Profile

  6. Every year my mom sends me her life insurance information, so that I’ll have it in case anything happens.

    She also opened accounts with me as a joint signer. That way, I can pay her bills if she’s incapacitated in some way. And/or, as she says morbidly, I won’t have to wait for probate.

    Tim’s parents are another story. They live in our guest house, one on disability the other just took early retirement. His mom does have a small insurance policy. This was a good reminder that I need to get the info from her again. It’s a couple thousand, I think. So basically it’ll cover the costs of a funeral. Still, every little bit counts. If her husband dies first, she’ll probably have to borrow money to deal with the funeral costs. Lovely.
    Abigail @ipickuppennies recently posted…In praise of an ordinary lifeMy Profile

  7. Glad everything worked out. It’s kind of crazy to go through that transition from child dependent to child care taker. Starting to get glimpses of it myself.
    Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life recently posted…Affording IndulgenceMy Profile

  8. Alexis says:

    That is definitely something that wandered in my mind for awhile back when my father was alive. Although it’s just my mom now, I always get worried with how she is doing financially.

  9. Glad everything was alright! That’s definitely scary. I’ve been wanting to talk with my parents for a few months now, but they’ve really shut down every time I’ve mentioned it. I’m not sure why, either — they know I work in a financial industry and write about finances for a living! I hope I’ll get a chance to speak with them for this very reason. While neither one of my parents is 100% dependent on the other, I don’t really know much about their financial situation — and I am their only child.
    Kali @ XY Planning Network recently posted…Kitces Roundup: Best Posts for Financial Advisors Looking to Start a FirmMy Profile

  10. Kalie says:

    Dave Ramsey’s latest book, The Legacy Journey, has a good list of what paperwork to have lined up and in one place for your family. Making sure your parents are prepared is a good idea, too.
    Kalie recently posted…Live Like Grandma ChallengeMy Profile

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