My book, Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk: How to Have Essential Conversations With Your Parents About Their Finances, came out June 25, 2019. People often are surprised when I tell them this is my first book because I’ve been a journalist for 24 years – a financial journalist for 17 of those years. That’s a pretty long time to be writing professionally without writing my own book, right? After all, isn’t it the goal of every writer to become a published author?

Not exactly.

Writing a book is a huge undertaking. So if you’re going to put in the time and effort, the book better be about something that really matters to you.  The topic of my book – Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk – is something that really matters to me because it was inspired by my lack of financial conversations with my mom. That’s right – I wrote a book about how to talk to your parents about their finances because I regret not talking to my mom sooner about hers.

My ‘Why’

My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease 10 years ago. However, she started showing signs of memory loss before then. She would ask the same questions more than once and repeat things. I assumed she was doing this because she had hearing loss in one ear. But then it became obvious one night when I was at her house that her hearing wasn’t the problem.

My mom asked me if I wanted to go to her patio to see a new bench she had bought. We went outside, looked at the bench, then went back inside. A few minutes later as we were talking, she asked, “Do you want to see the new bench I got for my patio?”  My heart sank.

I knew something was wrong. I realize now that I should’ve started having money talks with her then before she started forgetting details of her finances and to figure out how to pay for the long-term care she would eventually need. But I was too afraid then — not of talking to my mom about her finances but of saying that we needed to have a conversation because she was starting to forget things. I didn’t want to be the one to tell her that she was losing her memory.

My mother (in the middle stage of Alzheimer’s) and me

Within several months, though, I realized I couldn’t put off the conversation any longer.  I started by getting her to set up an appointment with an attorney to update her legal documents – her will, living will and power of attorney. Those latter two documents were especially important because they gave my sister and me authority to make health care and financial decisions for her once she was no longer able to make them on her own. A living will — also called an advance directive — power of attorney and will must be signed while you are mentally competent. Fortunately, my mom was still aware enough of what was going on that the attorney found her competent to sign these essential documents.

If I had waited any longer to get my mom to meet with an attorney, she might not have been competent enough to sign those documents. Then I would have had to go through the court system — essentially, put her on trial to prove she was incompetent — to get the legal right to manage her finances for her.

Why It’s Important for You to Read This Book

I don’t want people to make the same mistake I made with my mom and assume that conversations with their parents about their finances can wait until their parents are having health issues, are already retired or until they ask for help. I also don’t want people to feel like they have to go through this process alone and figure everything out on their own as I did. That’s why I wrote Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk.

As I wrote in the introduction to the book, “I wish there had been somebody to give me the kick in the pants I needed to start talking to my mom about her finances well before she started losing her memory … I can’t promise that talking to your parents about all of the financial issues they’ll face as they age will be easy. But you don’t have to figure it out on your own as I did. This book is going to be the kick in the pants you need to make you realize that now is the time to start talking to your parents about their finances.”

What’s so exciting is hearing from people who already are taking my advice and starting these conversations with their parents. I’ve been doing a lot of podcast interviews to promote the book, and some of the episodes already have been released. After being interviewed by financial expert Farnoosh Torabi on her So Money podcast, a listener wrote in to Farnoosh to thank her for having me on the show.

She wrote, “I have been asking my mom and stepdad to update their 20-year-old (done when I was 14) will for six months. I got so mad during the podcast I called my mom and let her have it. Then I texted my younger brother who I NEVER drag into things and said I could use some help. He guilted my mom as well, and she’s now called the lawyer and is setting up an appointment. Thank you so much for this kick in the pants my family clearly needed!!”

I love that she said it was the kick in the pants she needed (although I wouldn’t advocate guilting your parents into doing something).

Then financial planner Linda Rogers of Planning Within Reach sent me a video of a conversation she had with her mom that she said I had inspired her to have.

As I said, I wrote Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk because it was a subject that mattered to me. More importantly, I know these are conversations that all families need to be having. You will have to be involved in your parents’ finances one way or another – if they need your help as they age or when they die and you have to deal with what they’ve left behind. Trust me, it will make things so much easier if you talk to your parents about their finances before you actually have to step in and get involved.

With Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk, I guide you through the process of having these money talks by giving you:

  • Hope that these conversations can happen without being uncomfortable or unproductive through stories from those who successfully had the “talk.”
  • A variety of conversation starters and strategies for people whose parents are reluctant to open up.
  • Advice on what not to say.
  • A detailed list of information to gather from parents and explanation of what legal groundwork needs to be in place.
  • Tips on talking about more difficult topics such as long-term care.
  • Cautionary tales from people who didn’t have conversations with their parents.

As I write in the book, “Most importantly, I want you and your parents to be able to say, ‘I’m glad we talked.’”

Of course, I’d love for you to buy a copy so you can start having these important conversations. If you pre-order on Amazon before the book comes out June 25, you can lock in a lower price. If you take a screenshot of your pre-order and email it to me at, I’ll send you a free conversation starter cheat sheet.

If you do get a copy, please consider

  • Writing a review on Amazon or on Goodreads.
  • Taking a picture of the book you order, sharing it on social media and telling your friends how awesome it is.
  • Asking your local library to get a copy so others can read it. Typically, libraries offer a way on their websites to suggest an item for them to carry.

Most importantly, if you get a copy of Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk, I want you to know how much I appreciate your support. It’s a great feeling knowing that you’ve written something that can help other people.

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"An excellent step-by-step guide to navigate what can be time-consuming, uncomfortable conversations."

- Michelle Singletary, The Washington Post

Cameron Huddleston

I am the author of Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk: How to Have Essential Conversations With Your Parents About Their Finances. I also am an award-winning journalist with 20 years of experience writing about personal finance. My work has appeared in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance,, Yahoo!, MSN, and other online and print publications.

About Cameron