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When it comes to managing your money, 'Hope is not a strategy,' says Suzy Welch

Key Points
  • People need to start talking about money, says management expert Suzy Welch.
  • It's important to plan for a financial emergency — because there is going to be one, she says.
  • They also need to start saving early, she advises, not when retirement is "coming at them like a locomotive."
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Suzy Welch: America's savings crisis and how to secure a financial future

People need to start talking about money if they want to make good financial decisions, management expert Suzy Welch told CNBC on Monday.

According to a new CNBC Invest In You and Acorns Savings Survey, 57 percent of Americans are more confident about their ability to save, yet more than a third said they don't make enough money to meet their needs and put money aside. Of those surveyed, 27 percent said they almost never discuss personal finances with their family.

"People are not having conversations about money and what they should do to plan for the time when they are going to have a financial emergency — because you are going to have one," said Welch, an author and CNBC contributor.

"Hope is not a strategy when it comes to managing your money."

Getting it right is important, especially if you are among the vast majority of Americans who manage their own money. According to the survey, 75 percent do so. For younger people, that number is higher: 82 percent of millennials said they don't get help managing their finances.

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That's why financial planning should start early. As a parent, you can talk to your kids about money — even if they don't want to.

"It takes a special young person to say, 'I'm going to save. I'm going to figure out what investing even means,'" Welch said on "Power Lunch." "You can figure out a way to save and have a financial plan for yourself."

Once young adults head off to work, they may not hire someone to manage their money or put aside savings for retirement because they aren't making a lot of money. However, while they may think that's OK, the opposite is true, she pointed out.

"The less money you have, the more careful you actually have to be with it," she said. "People really start saving and setting aside when they get in their 40s and 50s, when retirement is coming at them like a locomotive, and it's usually pretty late in the game for that to be happening."

If hiring help is out of reach or you just want to sort out your finances on your own, there are a number of resources available online. That includes things like budget and bill trackers, as well as online inflation calculators that help you anticipate the value of money in years to come.

The survey, which polled 2,381 adults about their financial wellness, was conducted for CNBC by SurveyMonkey in March.

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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.