Review of: The M Word – a Book about Family Money Meetings

Review of:   The M Word – The Money Talk Every Family Needs to Have About Wealth and Their Financial Future by Lori R. Sackler



This book is a thorough guide to understanding and dealing with the multitude of factors that affect our ability to talk with family about money. Sackler identifies transition points in life which require us to have some kind of money talk, along with topics we might want to cover:

  • Marriage – disclose assets, liabilities & goals, decide to merge or not, discuss lifestyle changes needed.
  • Baby – provide for the childs long and short term.
  • Divorce – divide assets, preserve financial stability and family sanity.
  • Job change – re-assess your skills and market value, look at finances, reevaluate goals.
  • Financial setbacks – recalculate cash flow, re-assess lifestyle, agree on new spending/gifting patterns.
  • Health issues – assess costs (current and long term), find income, get insurance or other avenues to help support the needed care.
  • Aging parent – determine their financial health, develop estate and healthcare strategies.
  • Adult kids back home – figure out the financial effect on the parents, develop a plan to live together, maintain parental assets and keep kids financial and emotional independence.
  • Retirement – reevaluate portfolio .
  • Death – assess financial effect on family unit, distribute assets properly, pay required taxes, settle estate.
  • Prepare heirs – transfer family values, provide education and professional support if needed.
  • Business succession – plan to address financial and psychological issues for family and business.

Sackler dives into several of the above in great detail. Changes in financial circumstances; remarriage and merging families; retirement planning; caring for an elderly parent; preparing heirs, estate transfers, and business successions.

A key part of the book is the explanation of the multitude of factors that can influence the money discussion. Each of us have many differences that lead to differing

Her discussion includes statistics, research revelations and many personal stories.

Her five step plan to have the M talk is to 1) determine what transition you are addressing 2) Prepare the ‘inner’ landscape – all of those many factors that affect our thoughts, actions and words about money 3) Prepare the outer landscape (the actual meeting, your goals and etc) 4) Ask for Help and finally 5) Repeat as often as needed.

Lori Sackler is well qualified to write a book about this topic.  She is a Senior Vice President at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and a Certified Financial Planner, a Certified Investment Management Analyst and is the former host of radio show – The M Word. She also holds a CPA, but is not a practicing accountant.  She is also a wife, Mother of adult children and has held her own family money talks.

Read this book to understand and address:

This is a ‘go to’ book if you need to have money discussions, and all of us do. Sackler will help you prepare on many levels.

What I liked:

The stories of real people addressing real issues with money conversations are outstanding. She includes stories in each chapter.

The book addresses many aspects to consider when meeting with your spouse, your spouse and your kids, your spouse and your ex and your kids, your spouse and your parents and many other combinations. It is one of the few books that directly addresses multi-generation family meetings in a well thought out and practical way.

I loved that she used ‘she’ and ‘her’ interspersed with ‘he’ and ‘him’ in the book.

The summary at the back of the book will be a helpful pull out to review when I prepare for our next family meeting, as will the questions at the end of each chapter.

What I wished for:

Since we aren’t to the point of wanting to use advisers in our meetings, I wish there had been less emphasis on what the adviser can do for you and more on self help preparation and execution.

Favorite quotes:

P 6 “life transitions that involve money can, in fact, yield positive “happy endings” if communication and trust are part of the family culture.”

p 97 “A healthy money talk requires understanding and achieving closeness without being suffocating, and exerting power without being domineering”.

Although I hate those generalizations about the various generations Lori makes a valid point on p 125:

“Regardless of which generation you represent, your world was dramatically different from your parent’s world, and the world into which your children and grandchildren were born is profoundly different from the world in which you were raised”.

The link to buy this book will go into my sidebar carousel as it is very relevant to what Family Money Values is trying to provide to readers.  If you are planning on holding a multi-generation meeting in your family, read this book first!

For more information, visit The M Word.

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