Should you prioritize retirement savings or your child’s education fund?

My son is still in diapers, but I know he’ll be off to college in a bit. I do my best not to think about it too much, but the question of funding is always somewhere in my mind. My husband and I hope to finance his education and our retirement at the same time. But if we hit a stumbling block, the college savings will be taken out of the budget.

This may sound cold, but I say this with my son’s best interest at heart. I think in the long run it’s the smartest game for him and me.

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When I first looked at the estimated tuition for the year my son will be entering college, I was in sticker shock. But I was reassured by the fact that he could always finance his studies through scholarships, loans and a job if I was unable to pay. I know that student debt puts enormous financial pressure on young adults trying to build their careers. But I like it better than the alternative.

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If I choose to fund his college over my own retirement, he’ll graduate debt-free, but I might not have the money I need to cover all my retirement costs. And if my husband and I are too old to work or fall ill, we may have no choice but to turn to our son for financial support.

That means it could potentially pay tens of thousands of dollars a year — possibly for decades — to feed us, house us, and cover health expenses that Medicare doesn’t cover. All the while he may be trying to buy a house, expand his own family, and save for my grandkids’ college education. He may be forced to make difficult choices that put his financial security at risk, and I don’t want to burden him with that.

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How I plan to help us both

I really hope I don’t have to make the difficult choice between paying for my retirement and pay for my son’s education. That’s why I do my best to budget carefully. These savings goals are at the top of my priority list, right after my monthly bills, and I set up automatic transfers from my bank account so I don’t have to remember to move the money. me too invest my savingsboth for retirement and for my son’s education, so that I don’t have to save the whole amount on my own.

When he grows up, I hope to teach my son the importance of education and help him apply for scholarships if he needs them. And if there are loans, I will help him find the best possible rates and repayment terms.

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If I could afford it, I might even give her a little money each month to help her pay off her loans over time. Even if it means paying interest, I’d rather do that than dip into my retirement savings to pay for everything upfront.

And if one day my son asks me why I chose to prioritize my retirement, I will explain all this to him so that he understands that I acted with his long-term security in mind.

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