Blogs > Your Money

Dave Patterson and Erin Preston, a father-daughter team of Certified Financial Planner® licensees, provide thoughts and suggestions on a broad collection of personal finance topics.  Information provided in this BLOG is intended to be of a general nature and may not be appropriate for all situations.  Readers should consult with their own financial advisors before relying on any information contained herein.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Roadblock to Retirement You Didn’t Plan On

It’s tough and getting even tougher, to accumulate enough to retire. With the market crashing more often and people losing their jobs and their houses, it seems like they just can’t make any headway with saving. In the meantime, their life expectancy continues to increase and the likelihood of hyper-inflation, higher interest rates and higher taxes seems to be increasing.

Most people are aware of many of these issues although often don’t comprehend the impact they will have on achieving retirement. So, it’s not unusual for us to see clients who just haven’t saved enough to ensure a comfortable retirement.

But then, to make matters worse, they run into another roadblock they never anticipated. They are faced with bailing out their children. They have spent years putting their kids through school, paying for their sports programs, clothes, braces, medical expenses and saving for college. Finally, the kids graduate but they can’t get a job. Or, even if they do, they run up credit card debt, overspend or turn to drugs. Just when you thought you could focus on your own problems, you realize you kids are still dependent on you.

The more we talk to clients, the more this issue seems to surface. It’s not uncommon for at least one of our client’s children to have some sort of financial problem. In many cases clients are spending significant sums to help their kids make ends meet. At the same time they are seriously jeopardizing their own retirement.

So what can you do? If your kids are in their early teens, start educating them. Look for programs in your area that provide money management education. Inquire at your local high school to see if it participates in the NEFE’s (National Endowment for Financial Education) High School Financial Planning Program (HSFPP).

The NEFE website describes their program as follows: “The HSFPP consists of a seven unit student manual, instructor’s guide, and a dynamic suite of Web pages that offer a large, continually growing collection of resources, articles, and financial tools for teachers, students, and parents.” And, most important of all, the NEFE program is free.

If your child has graduated from college, you may be able to find a local financial planner who can work with him or her to teach them how to handle their money. Many planners offer such programs to their clients’ family members. Some offer “financial physicals”, priced reasonably, to help those just starting out to get on the right track.

Whatever you do, don’t just continue to give your kids money. You need to address the root cause of their problems: They don’t know how to manage their own money. Unless they learn in some manner, you’ll either have to take a tough love approach or continue to bail them out, further jeopardizing your own retirement. An investment in educating them, whatever the cost, will be worth every penny.


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