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The average retirement age in the U.S. remains 64. But, more people are trying to retire early to enjoy their ‘golden years.’ There is something liberating and freeing about early retirement, and there are many benefits.
But, if you have children still in your home, retiring early may not be as easy as it would be if your children were grown and you were an empty-nester. On one hand, your children can actually help you retire earlier. Children provide a sense of urgency in the best way possible. You might want to spend more time with them, and make sure you’re there for every aspect of their upbringing.
On the other hand? Children are expensive. According to the USDA, it costs over $233,000 to raise a child. That includes everything from food and clothing to education and housing.
Retiring early when you have children can help you to make the most of your time with your kids and avoid the shock of empty nest syndrome later by staying positive. But, it’s important to make sure you can afford it. Let’s look at a few things you should consider before deciding to retire early.
The Cost of Raising a Child
To retire at any age, one of the most important things to consider is how you’re going to afford cost of living for the rest of your life. Again, children are expensive, and not just when they’re young. As your children grow, expenses can come in the form of:
- Fundraisers for school
- Trips for school or extracurriculars
As your children become teenagers and graduate from high school, you might also have to think about the cost of college. College savings accounts and financial aid are both options that can save you money and get your college student the tuition funding they need. But, oftentimes parents have to either take out a loan on their own or co-sign for their teenager’s private loan to fully finance tuition.
In most cases, you don’t have to start paying on these loans until your student graduates. But, the interest keeps rolling from the moment the loan is approved, and it can end up cost thousands of dollars over the years.
What You Want Your Life to Look Like
If you plan on retiring early with children, think about what you want your life to look like now, and in the future. What will you gain by retiring early? Some of the biggest benefits most retirees consider include:
- The opportunity to travel
- Health benefits
- More time with family
- New opportunities
But, one of the biggest ‘cons’ is constantly stressing about money and whether you’ll have enough to lead the lifestyle you truly want. It’s admirable and loving to want to retire to spend more time with your children. But, it’s also important to think about the literal cost of leaving early.
Don’t let that deter you from retiring early if it’s what you really want. There are ways to live the lifestyle you want after early retirement and still spend time with your family. It’s a great time to consider a new business venture on your own or a ‘side hustle’ that allows you to make money doing something you love. Retirement doesn’t mean you have to give up on making money. There are plenty of ways to do it without working a full-time job. If your passion or side gig is important or innovative, you might even qualify for some type of assistance or grant to help you.
So, consider what you want your life to be and what you want to accomplish through early retirement. Retiring early allows you to do more of the things you want, and that could include being quite successful while still raising children.
What to Do When Your Children Are Grown
We touched briefly on empty nest syndrome above. But, it can be a real problem for parents who aren’t sure what to do when their children are grown and end up leaving the house. That can be a consideration you make when you decide to retire early. Retiring later in life might mean missing out on some of your child’s activities when they’re young. It could also make you feel less attached to your partner or spouse because you spent so many years working. So, if you were to retire at an older age and your kids are grown, that empty feeling could be even worse.
If you’re thinking about early retirement, you’re probably focused on the here and now, not 10 years from now. But, take into consideration what your future might look like once your children are grown. Will you still be able to afford the lifestyle you want from retiring early? What will you do with your time? Will it have been worth it to leave your job early to spend more time with your family?
Early retirement is almost always a personal choice. But, it becomes even more personal when children are involved. Keep these considerations in mind if you’re toying with the idea. If you can manage your finances and ensure that you can afford the cost of raising a child while having enough left over to enjoy your retirement years, you will never regret being there more often for your family while your children are young.