Why This is the Thanksgiving to Talk About Money

Granddaughter Celebrating Thanksgiving With Grandparents Chatting To Each Other Smiling

Are you worried about what you’ll talk about over Thanksgiving dinner this year? You probably should be. Not only has this been the most polarizing political year ever, but perennially sore subjects still lurk in the shadows: Are you really wearing that? Why aren’t you married yet? Did I tell you about my colonoscopy?

Oy. This year, how about changing things up and talking about something calming and neutral: money? Admittedly, money isn’t the usual choice when you’re looking for pleasant dinner conversation. We are, in fact, programmed to avoid discussing finances at all costs. Yet, we have a lot to learn from each other – particularly among family and friends. And since it can be close to impossible to get everyone together around the table at any other time of the year, the holidays are a perfect opportunity to explore how money has shaped your family history, and how it’s shaping everyone’s lives now.

Questions to ponder:

  • What is your family’s financial story? What were the major financial events that shaped your family’s fortunes? How has your story changed in recent years?
  • Do the people who are ages 50+ feel prepared for the financial challenges they face now? What do they wish for? What do they fear? What would they do differently if they could start over at age 21 now?
  • How are the family elders faring? Do they worry about managing their money as they age – or about losing control over it?
  • What about young adults? How do they imagine they’ll traverse the next 40 years of adulthood? Will their financial journeys be different from their parents’?
  • How are you creating a legacy, both in terms of knowledge and actual wealth?
  • What would people like help with in relationship to managing money, achieving life goals, and aging with grace and dignity? Could innovation in financial services help solve these problems?

CO-OP – in partnership with MasterCard and innovation firm OpenIDEO – is currently soliciting ideas specifically around meeting the changing financial needs of adults 50+ in the THINK Prize 16 Financial Longevity Challenge. If your family discussion sparks inspiration, go directly to the Financial Longevity Challenge page and share your idea with the community. You’ll receive feedback from innovators around the globe and financial services experts from the credit union industry. The top ideas from this year’s Challenge will share the $10,000 THINK Prize.

What if your family dinner table doesn’t render the next big idea in financial services? If you come away with a new understanding of your family’s financial life stories, current challenges and hopes for the future, we’ll call that a win. Talking about money isn’t something most families are good at – yet. But if we can begin mining our collective knowledge, just imagine how much smarter we all might be. In a year when so many topics of conversation seem too hot to handle, talking about money seems downright civilized. Let’s seize the moment and begin the dialogue.

Share your ideas with fellow innovators in the THINK Prize 16 Challenge

How might we create financial services that support the dreams and obligations of those 50 and older?

Do you have an idea in response to this question? The THINK Prize 16: Financial Longevity Challenge is currently in the Ideas phase. On OpenIDEO’s online collaborative platform, innovators are sharing ideas and feedback. Check out the ideas that have been posted; offer insights or expertise; and contribute your own entry now. Click here.