Rookie mistake – letting children thwart your retirement plans

Our future lies in the success of our progeny. They are the ones who will advance our society, healthcare, and keep us safe.  Unfortunately our successors aren’t born with the tools to run the world–they still need the support of those with more experience.  At age one, I was definitely crying most of the time. At age six, I still cried at pretty much every chance I got. At age 10, I was probably helpful around the house but I was definitely not solving world problems.

Don’t worry, your car seat has an expiration date so it won’t sit in the garage forever!

In fact, I was pretty much useless in my line of work until my late 20’s. Up until then, I probably consumed quite a few financial and mental resources from my parents and society.

Children have even more opportunity today to burn through your doctor-sized income.

Serious money can be spent raising a kid, long before they reach schooling age. Bassinets, pack ‘n’ plays, rocking chairs, diapers, formulas, strollers, “travel systems”, and all of the early life activities.

I was talking with colleague recently and noticed that she had a very intricate travel system for her young twins.  For those of you not in the “know”, a travel system for young kids involves a mobility carrier to ease movement between car seats, strollers, and even airline travel.  It looked fancy and appeared to take effort to put together.  Several weeks later, I had a coworker who complained about the cost of the very same travel system. It turned out to be $800!

That’s right. This is an $800 investment that ought to ease the burden of parenthood, keep your kids safe, and last up until age 2.  Afterward, you’ll likely need to upgrade to a better system for older children. If you’d like to have the state-of-the-art jogging stroller for your children, you’ll have to lay down another $1,000 purchase. If you’d like to find a portable stroller that you wouldn’t have to gate-check when flying, be prepared to drop another $200.

We have to be mindful of our own limitations

One of our goals as parents is to instill best practices to our youth. We hope to give them the opportunities that we didn’t have ourselves. This can get us into a lot of trouble.  Just because mom and dad can afford the nice childhood luxuries, nannies, au pairs, and early educational toys doesn’t mean that Jr. needs it in order to become a productive member of society.

I blame peer pressure on our shortcomings.  It is easy to compare ourselves to our colleagues, friends, and acquaintances.  Society expects a certain standard of living based on our profession. We expect a certain standard of living for ourselves based on our professions.  When our coworkers have the latest gadgets for their children, it is tempting to follow suit. After all, it’s for our kids right?

In order to reach our financial goals, we create a financial plan based on our in’s and outs.  It’s easy to increase our expenditures especially if we rationalize that we’re helping our children succeed. But that is the wrong move.  You’ve made it thus far in your career to build a stable financial footing for your family despite the challenges.  Your children should be up for the challenge too. It will only make them stronger.

What big ticket expenses for your children could you have foregone?

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