The Ultimate Parenting Sin: Not Saving for Your Retirement
Like any other parent, I love my children a lot. However, unlike many parents of today, I actively choose not to indulge my children. This is not because we cannot afford these expenses. Rather, it is a conscious effort that my husband and I are making to avoid going overboard with trying to meet every whim of our children. Instead, we are choosing to prioritise our retirement. By doing this, not only are we prepping financially for our golden years, but also giving our children the chance to learn first-hand the importance of savings and judicious spending.
Why retirement specifically? Because I believe that one of the greatest mistakes any parent can make is to not plan for their retirement.
Do not ignore your own financial needs
I had a comfortable childhood. My siblings and I have been fortunate to have such loving parents, who made sure that all of us had everything we needed and more.
Maybe because they both led difficult lives themselves that they were on a mission to ensure that their children –my siblings and I – did not have to go through the same hardships that they had faced. They toiled hard to give us the best they could in life.
However, in doing so, they neglected their own needs and ended up not planning for their retirement. This now means they have no savings and are mostly dependent on my siblings and I for much of their financial needs. While we are happy to help them out financially at this stage of their lives, it does undeniably add weight to our own financial responsibilities. It has also made me realise the urgency of planning for my own retirement so my husband and I will not be financially dependent on our children in our later years.
Review your spending to minimise unnecessary expenses
I admit I was guilty of having splurged on unnecessary clothes and toys for my son when he was an infant. He is the first-born of my two children and probably this was the reason, both my husband and I were overly excited to prove ourselves as the best parents. But to whom? Our child was too young to understand anything!
Children outgrow clothes in no time during their growing years, which means buying expensive and branded clothes only adds up to wasteful expenses. Similarly, once the novelty of a toy wears off, children start playing with nick-nacks lying around the house. The expensive clothes that we bought for our son were hardly used twice or thrice. Same for toys, as he would prefer playing with cartons and boxes at home once he was bored of something new and shiny.
By the time our daughter was born, we had become wiser and stopped wasteful expenditures. So, even though it is within our means, we do not buy everything that our children demand or choose the most expensive options for them. Instead of focusing on material things, we emphasise on experiences and spend quality time with them. For instance, when our children were still toddlers, we would just play games or go for a stroll in the nearby park every evening. We also encouraged them to look for options that were more creative and less costly. Similarly, when it came to toys, instead of buying actual toy castles, we upcycled boxes or cartons lying around at home to help them make their own castles.
This has allowed us to enjoy the best of both worlds – strengthening the bond with our children and saving money that can instead be used to secure our financial future.
Inculcate good financial habits in children
I believe it is important to take care of our own financial security first as it will help to rationalise the demands of our children and also teach them the importance of saving. It will enable them to make do with less – which can come in handy when they face the ups and downs of life on their own in future. Furthermore, it will teach children the art of problem-solving and encourage them to think out-of-the-box.
Having said that, it is not to say that you should not indulge your children at all. Occasional treats to celebrate their achievements or significant life events and special occasions such as birthdays definitely call for some indulgence.
Plan your retirement as early as possible
I may come across as a strict parent who does not believe in giving my all to her children but together with my husband, we make every effort to provide our children with a stable and happy atmosphere at home, which we believe will help them to blossom into responsible adults.
I believe that prioritising my retirement will be beneficial for my children in the long run. When we are old and have our own savings to tap into, our children will not have to fund our monetary needs. They will be free to chart their own course in life with no ‘parental support’ strings attached.
I think all parents should start planning their retirement as soon as possible. If you have yet to start your planning journey, check out Income’s savings plans and start saving for a financially independent future in your golden years.
This article is meant purely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as financial advice. The precise terms, conditions and exclusions of any Income products mentioned are specified in their respective policy contracts. For customised advice to suit your specific needs, consult an Income Advisor. This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.