Do you know how to say no? If you are in your 40s or your 50s, can you say no to your kids’ requests for money? Do you feel selfish putting yourself first? If so, you may suffer financially in retirement and will benefit from saying “no”.
Kiplinger’s recently shared how hard it is for many middle aged people to say no to their adult children’s requests for money. “It’s hard to say no, and most people don’t. But that decision may have long-term implications. Even if you don’t have to raid your retirement accounts, cutting back on your retirement-plan contributions to help family members translates into a smaller nest egg” (Kiplinger’s).
My own grandpa retired at 62, and then he and my grandma sold their house and moved down to Florida for the winter months. Everyone knew that once they were in Florida for the winter, they did not fly back, even in the case of a death in the family. They missed my cousin’s funeral and several others over the years because they didn’t feel they could afford to fly back and forth. I thought this was cold when I was young, but I see now the wisdom in this.
They had over 30 grandkids, and every Christmas and every birthday, each of us would get a handwritten card with a crisp one dollar bill enclosed. Even 30 years ago, this was not a lot of money, and I didn’t even spend it. I still have those one dollar bills saved as they are a physical remnant of my grandparents’ love.
Because of their willingness to conserve their funds and say no, their retirement outlasted them, and they lived to 88 and 90, respectively. While I am not sure that I could miss a relative’s funeral to avoid an airline expense, I see now that my grandparents were very good at preserving their own retirement and putting themselves first. As a result, they never had to burden their children with their care, even when my grandma was in a care facility the last few years of her life.
On the other hand, we have a close family friend who could never say no and helped finance several of her daughter’s business ventures, each of which failed. This friend has very little for retirement even though she is now in her mid-sixties. Unfortunately, her situation is not unique. Mari Adams, a Boca Raton, FL based financial advisor shares that “One of her clients is almost 70 years old and needs to retire soon, but she can’t because she spends too much of her money on her kids. Sometimes the kids are in their twenties or thirties – and even their forties. A study by the National Endowment for Financial Education found that more than 25% of parents surveyed took on additional debt to help their children, and 7% had to delay their own retirement because of it” (Kiplinger’s).
Saying no can be awkward and uncomfortable, especially if you do not frequently say no financially to your children. The best time to begin is when they are young. Because my grandparents only gave us $1 for our birthdays, I never expected anything more from them. Money didn’t enter our relationship, and I am glad for that. If your children are older, now may be the time to sit down with them and explain that you must save for your own retirement and are no longer able to help them. As difficult as this discussion may be, the kids will likely be glad when they don’t have to support you in retirement.
Are you able to say no to your kids, or do you help them at the expense of your retirement?