Wednesday’s Wisdom: Retirement or College Fund?

Have you ever become overwhelmed at the thought that you are supposed to be saving for your own retirement, and then realized that you technically should be saving for your children’s college expenses, too?

Sometimes, different situations arise that cause you to not be able to save for either one, let alone both.  So, in the event that you can only afford to save for one, how do you make that choice?  Your children are always number one in your life, so it seems selfish to save for your retirement in place of their college, right?  Well, here are some reasons why you should place your needs in front of their own in this instance.  It’s okay if you do not agree, but it is my hope that it will make the decision a little easier to handle.

You spend your adult life taking care of and providing for your children.  You can only work so hard for so long before you have to let your children take care of themselves and focus on yourself again.  Yes, you may be able to (if it exists as an option when you are eligible to retire or receive) get benefits like Social Security.  However, not only is this not usually enough to live on in the first place; it should never be what you rely on anyway.

Your children will better be able to put themselves through college than you will be able to put yourself through retirement.  Your children will be youthful, and working a job to support themselves and their families.  Of course, any college savings you can pull off will help, but it’s not going to prevent them from going all together.  What I mean is that they will be able to afford to put themselves through school because they will be able to work; whereas if you do not have money saved toward retirement, you are less likely to be able to work to earn money to help yourself survive–because the essence of retirement is that you are done working, because you have done enough of it…retiring from your career should never mean that you have to work a less demanding job to compensate for having quit your career.  This is easier for people who are still physically able to work; but you may reach a point where you cannot even do that.  In providing for yourself in that manner, it will assist your children in not having to worry about you; so in a sense, you’re doing more for your children in the long run.

There are loans for higher education, but not retirement.  Your children can get loans to ensure their attendance to college, and deal with paying them back after they have the higher earning potential that college helped them to get.  Yes, they may have trouble paying off the loans; but, you cannot borrow money to live on if you cannot pay it back, you know?

Retirement funds need to last longer. You need more money saved for retirement than college, just because retirement funds are meant to take care of your life the way working does now.  College expenses will cease after a few years, and likely never add up to what you need for retirement anyway.

If you cannot decide which one to focus on, or feel that this reasoning is faulty; compromise and save the amount you planned on anyway.  If you can only afford $50 a month in savings toward one or the other; look at as $25 in each fund.  Then, whatever money you have saved can be used for whatever purpose you see the most appropriate.

What are your thoughts?  Am I wrong in my logic?  Do I sound selfish?  Share your opinions below.

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