Saving for College and Retirement at the Same Time

Saving money for a comfortable retirement when the time comes is something that is very important to you, but, on the other hand, you also want to help your child go to college or university. Is it possible to save for both? What will you need to sacrifice to achieve this goal? How do you find balance? Saving for your child’s education at the same time as your retirement can be challenging, but it may be possible to do both if you take the right steps now.

DivGrad_340Know your Financial Needs

You will need to determine what your financial needs are for both retirement and college. The following points are a good start:

For your retirement:

  • When do you plan to retire? 10 years? 20 years?
  • Do you have a pension plan or employer sponsored retirement plan? Are you participating in it? If you are, what is your balance? What will your balance be when you retire?
  • What amount you expect to receive in Social Security benefits? (estimate this using your personal earnings and benefit statement)
  • What plans do you have for your retirement? For example: Are you going to downsize your home? Do you plan on traveling much? Do you have expensive hobbies? Will you need to buy a new car?
  • Are you planning on working part-time during your retirement?

For your child’s education

  • When will your child start college?
  • What is the expected cost of your child’s education? Do you think they will attend a private or public college?
  • How many children are you saving for?
  • Do you expect your child to receive any scholarships based on athletic, artistic or academic abilities?
  • Will your child qualify for any financial aid?

There are many calculators that can be found online to help you predict your child’s education costs and your financial needs in retirement.

Determine how much can you afford to put aside each month

Once you determine your financial needs, figure out how much you can afford to put aside each month. In order to do this you will have to put together a budget that accounts for all your expenses and income. Once you determine how much you can put aside you will need to determine how you will split up this money.


Your retirement should be the priority

Yes, college is important, but you need to focus on your retirement, especially if you find out that your funds are more limited than you thought they were. Social security bennefits can not be as depended on as they have been in the past which makes it your job to fund  your retirement. The other side is that, if you wait until your child starts college to save you will miss out on tax-deferred growth and compounding your savings. It’s important to remember, worst case scenario, your child can always fund college by taking out loans or receiving scholarships but you cannot take out loans to fund your retirement!

If it is possible, go ahead and save for both

In the ideal scenario you will be able to finance both college and retirement at the same time. The more money you save for college the less debt your child will be faced with when they complete school. Even if you put away very little, it can be surprising how much it will grow by the time your child gets to college. For example, at 8% $100/month will grow to around $18,000 in 10 years time.

A professional financial planner can help you figure out how to divvy up your funds between college and retirement if you are having troubles.They can also help you pick adequate goals and diversify your portfolio. You should treat each goal independently even if you are saving for both at the same time.

Can retirement savings be used to fund college?

Yes, but this is not a good idea. Financial planners strongly discourage this because it can leave you financially strapped in retirement. If you think that this is still something that you should be doing you can withdraw money penalty free from an IRA even if you are under the age of 60. Using your 401k will cost you a 10% penalty on any withdrawls you take out before 60. You can also potentially be subjected to a 6 month suspension if you make a withdrawal and you may also have to pay income tax on this money. It is best to talk to a financial planner before tinkering with your retirement savings to finance your child’s education.

Finding Retirement Homes

During your retirement, you may find that it is time for you to search for a home to live in. You may have decided it is time to live in a community with others your age with minimal support.  Generally speaking, retirement homes are for senior citizens who do not require round-the-clock care and may need a bit of support.

52d39b58d45644c08419d98eb2484d9bSome seniors decide to move into a retirement home because it enables you to keep most privacy , however support on some level is still present.  Most retirement homes will have occasional cleaning, upkeep of homes, and food included in the cost. Another feature that may entice you are the leisure programs most retirement homes also have included in the cost.  This is a great opportunity to get our and socialize with your peers, and to get to know other residents in your community.

Before you begin to search for a retirement home, it is advisable to decide exactly what you are looking for and would desire in your home.  You will want to know if you would prefer a bigger or small unit, what you or your family are able to budget or if there are specific amenities you would want, such as  a pool or hot tub.

Once you have identified some retirement homes you may be interested in it is a good idea to obtain some information from each of those potential homes-even if it is as minimal as having brochures mailed to you.  If this home or homes still appeal to you, call and arrange for a tour.  You can speak with the staff and current residents to “get a feel” of how things are there.

It is good to know if current residents are happy with where they live. You will want to look for cleanliness and sanitation of the facility. Sampling the food is also a good idea as you will be consuming it at least three times a day. It is crucial to ask as many questions as you can think of. You may also think about bringing some friends or family members with you as they may think of questions or concerned you have not thought of yourself.

When touring a facility, you will also want to ensure that you have a general good feeling about the place. If something is unsettling about it, or you just do not have a good feeling, it is likely not the place for you. You must go with your feelings-after all, you re the one who will be spending all your time there.

Once you have found the place that fits for you, you may find it is somewhere where you will be able to be very active and maintain your dignity with support if you do require it.

If there is imminent need and therefore no time for someone to search for a retirement home either by themselves or with friends and family, a social worker or community support for seniors may be contacted to obtain a home more quickly.

Picking up Hobbies in Retirement

As you come upon retirement, you’re probably looking forward to all the time you will have on your hands, but have you ever wonder how you’re going to fill up all this time? Research has shown that retired people that have a hobby tend to be happier and live longer lives. Hobbies keep you active, both mentally and physically. They also help you socialize and meet new friends. Also, you don’t have to do a hobby full time, that’s the beauty of it, you can spend your days anyway you would like. But what if you’ve never had a hobby or you are unsure of where to start. Here is a list of some ideas.

Older people

Photo By i.tokaris

Hobbies to Exercise Your Mind

Are you the type of person that never forgets a song lyric or limerick? Then maybe you should find yourself a poetry group to join. Poetry is a great way to keep your mind active without causing any stress to your body.

Do you like to read and have always thought that it was something that you could do? Why not find yourself a writing group to share your short stories with or to learn how to write your thoughts down.

You’ve lived an amazing life and have always wanted to share all of your experiences but have never had the time. Why not start a blog. Here you will be able to offer advice to your readers and tell them all about your journey in life.

Hobbies to Keep you Active

Always loved playing sports, why not finding a local seniors softball team. It will be a great way to keep active and meet new people at the same time.

How about joining a gym, here you can find many aerobic classes or swim classes geared towards seniors.

Walking, it’s one of the best exercises for a person. Grab a couple of friends and make a point of getting out doors. Not only are you keeping active, but you are getting some great vitamin D. Too cold outside, try joining your local mall walking team to stay active during those cold winter months.

Hobbies for the Collector

You’ve always loved working on your car, but now that you’re a little older you’re just not in the same position to do so. Why not try making model cars and see how many different models you can make and collect. It’s a great way to keep you sharp and your mind active too.

Love antiques but never really had the time to enjoy antique shopping, now’s the time to do it. You can grab a friend or two and head out to different antique markets, who knows what you will find.

Stamp collecting is easy too. Grab yourself a cool scrapbook at your local craft store and start your collection. You can find some great stamps on websites such as eBay or kijiji.

Collecting model cars, antiques and stamps are all fun and challenging hobbies where you can socialize. The other added bonus is that each of these hobbies offer a unique opportunity to bring in some extra earnings.

Hobbies for the Creative Mind

Brewing beer or wine is a great way to be creative. You can try different methods and flavors to see what you can come up with. Who knows you might just develop the next new flavor.

I’m sure that if you’re like me, you have an amazing collection of photos that you have taken over the years that are just collecting dust in a box somewhere. Well now is the time to organize them into a wonderful scrapbook.

Baking is a great way to be creative and I’m sure that most grandmas out there love to bake. Why not try taking a cake decorating class to finesse your talents. You can meet some great people and learn some new tricks.

Just remember that you may need to try a few different things before you find the one that is for you. Take the time that has been given to you to enjoy many different hobbies until you find the one or two or more that is right for you. Not only will you be happy that you did, you will also find new ways to stay active and social.

10 Things to Consider for a Happy Retirement

You’ve had a job for your entire adult life, raised your kids and most likely have paid off your mortgage. Your retirement is ahead of you and it can really be the best years of your life. So what makes the difference between a happy retirement versus a retirement filled with stress? I recently asked a few people who have already retired what kids of things they thought were keys to having a happy retirement. This is the list that I came up with after some careful considerations:

RetirementLane

Plan Ahead

Determine what you need, and what goals you need to achieve, in order to retire. It’s important to devise a plan that will help you accomplish this goal. Many people fail to plan their retirement properly which can lead to stress and worry in your retirement years.

Make conservative assumptions

Assumptions will likely be an important part of your retirement plan. When making assumptions it’s always a good idea to leave room for variability or margins of error. For example, do not assume that your investments to return a large sum of money that you will depend on as a major source of income.

Have a diverse portfolio

Make sure that you have a diverse portfolio of investments. For example, having a diverse portfolio of GICs, bonds, equities and income trusts will help you at times when stocks are losing money by balancing your asset classes.

Account for inflation

Inflation will affect your income in retirement whether you like it or not. You will find that as the years go by your costs will increase steadily and you may have to make some adjustments to your income. Everyone planning their retirement should be accounting for higher living costs.

Develop hobbies and interests before retirement

We all look forward to not having to do anything, but that will get old fast and you will find yourself with too much time on your hands. Keep busy in retirement with hobbies and interests; it will make you much happier. Planning what you want to do with your time will help prevent getting stuck in a rut when you actually retire.

Understand your retirement income

Where are you going to get income for retirement? An important thing that should be done by everyone planning their retirement is to become aware of the rules surrounding government benefits. Everyone should know everything they can about their sources of income whether it is pension plans, RRSPs or government benefits.

Minimize tax

It’s easy to get caught up in worrying about the safety of your investments in retirement, but people often forget to focus on minimizing tax. Good tax planning can make a tremendous impact on your retirement.

Be conservative with your investments

Sometimes it’s better to stay conservative and live a modest life than to go with investments that have a higher potential for returns (these types of investments also have higher losses). Just make sure you are able to sleep at night with the investment plans that you have chosen. Retirement is about living a comfortable life with what you have.

Live a healthy life

This should be obvious, having a health problem early into retirement is not something that you should have to worry about. Be conscious of what you eat and remain physically active. The healthier you are the longer you will live and the more you will enjoy your life. Money is nothing without health. You only get one body, take care of it.

Be happy with what you have

It’s easy to get caught up in the wants, but when it comes down to it, if you are having all your needs met in retirement that is a tremendous reason to be happy.