How committed are you to your retirement planning? Are you saving and investing to ensure you will be financially self-dependent in your sunset years or do you have other plans? Like betting on your children's support?
One of the biggest financial mistakes you'll ever make is ignoring retirement planning with the hope that your children will provide for you. Yes, your children are your responsibility, and you should invest in giving them the future they deserve. But not at the expense of your future. Find a balance by providing for them while also building your nest egg.
To be self-reliant in retirement, the income you will need to generate will be 70% - 90% of your living wage in the last month of your working life. Your Investments should be able to earn you enough income to replace your salary. If your last salary before retirement were Ksh100,000, you'd need to make at least Ksh70,000 in retirement to substitute your lost income. How confident are you that your children can provide you with that much?
If you had put off retirement planning, thinking your children would come to your rescue, you need to rethink your strategy. Here are six reasons you should never make your kids your retirement plan:
Read Also: How to Plan for Retirement While in Your 30s
Wanjala is a retired doctor whose retirement plan was simple: he wanted a beachfront home he could spend his sunset years, and he wanted his kids to buy one for him. So he didn't make a plan to achieve his dream. When he retired, the best home his children could afford to build for him was a three-bedroom house in their rural home in Bungoma. He missed out on his retirement dream.
If Dr. Wanjala had made efforts to actualise his dream by saving and investing for retirement during his working years, he could have made some progress. He'd have at least made enough money to buy beachfront land. And his kids could have helped him with construction. They'd have met him halfway.
What do you envision when you picture yourself in retirement? Are you traveling the world, volunteering at an NGO, spending time with grandkids, or sitting quietly in your farmhouse soaking in the peace and breathing fresh air? To achieve whatever you are visualising, you must have a clear plan. You should be the one tasked with making your dream become a reality.
The future is unpredictable and iffy. There's no guarantee that your children will turn out to be wealthy individuals with so much disposable income to fund your retirement. They're bound to run some of the risks associated with being an adult, and when that happens, they won't have enough to support you. In fact, life is so unpredictable that they can be the ones depending on you even when in their 30s.
Sudden loss of jobs, lack of employment, health issues, or failed business are some of the problems that might hinder your children from supporting you. When they can barely make enough to support themselves, they wouldn't be able to help you even if they wanted to. And they can experience these financial challenges for months or years. In that period, you need to be in a position to provide for yourself.
Starting to save and investing in schemes that will generate you income in retirement now will ensure that you give your children breathing room to get their finances in order. This will lower pressure on their finances and put the weight off their shoulders as they'll have fewer responsibilities.
As a parent, you'll want your children to live the comfortable lifestyle they deserve, save for their future and stay financially stable. But when you make them your retirement plan, you can get in between them and their financial goals. The money that they'd have used to save for their first house downpayment, for example, will be directed to paying for your assisted living nurse. And since your children might feel obligated to support you, they will have to shelve their financial goals.
Perhaps the most significant effect your dependency will have on your children, apart from their finances, is their mental health. Your children will be stressed and will see no changes in their lives. Their peers who don't pay the black tax will keep building their wealth while they stay stagnant. Meanwhile, they'll be forced to live below their means — a frugal lifestyle— as you take a large portion of their income.
By starting to create your retirement fund now, you will give your children the opportunity to grow and compete with their peers. They'll be able to save more, have bigger goals, and honestly, make you even prouder as a parent. But when you constantly call them to foot even your utility bill, how will you expect them to achieve their personal goals?
You can use your earned money the way you want. You can choose to mismanage it by spending it on every kind of unnecessary luxury, and no one will be entitled to question you. But you lose that freedom when someone, even your child, is funding your lifestyle.
You will be required to account for every shilling they give you. If they estimate that you can comfortably survive on Ksh15,000 per month, that is what you will receive. If you have unexpected expenses like, say, a toilet blockage and need money to fix it, you have to give a detailed explanation. And even after that, you might be inconvenienced and have to wait for a while before you are sorted.
One of the biggest problems of relying on your children after retirement is saying goodbye to your charity efforts. If you were known for contributing to your religious or other nonprofit organisations, you wouldn't be in a position to do that. You won't be in a place to ask your kids to do that for you, unlike if you had planned for retirement and had your money.
One of the biggest risks you run when you choose to make your children your retirement plan is that they can abandon you. The generous little bundle of joy you raised to be charitable and caring can completely change. Considerable research shows that people can completely change their personalities and become more selfish when they get rich.
One thing about money is that it changes people. It's known to change the attitude and personalities of people. And your children are not immune to that. As they grow old and go through money problems, they'll become more protective of their wealth and may not want to share it with anyone, even you, their parents.
Money can also build resentment. The more you ask your children, the more distant they can become. Remember, you can never be entitled to anyone's money. While you hope that your children don't turn selfish when they get money, ensure that you avoid the risk of being left in the streets by starting to prepare for retirement today.
Creating enough wealth to last for generations starts with being financially stable in retirement. Can you create a lasting legacy for your kids and generations to come when you plan to depend on them when you retire? Or will the opposite happen?
Here's how depending on your children will work out: They'll spend their income supporting you, forcing them to put off their retirement planning. When they retire, they turn to their children (your grandchildren) for support, and the circle continues. With every coming generation trying their best to reverse the mistake you could’ve avoided. And instead of building generational wealth, they'll be working on getting out of the poverty circle.
Now, it's possible that you are not planning your retirement because you are funding your elderly parents' retirement. Then you understand the effects and wouldn't want to subject your children to the same. Support your parents by all means. But also plan for your retirement by learning how black tax impacts your finances and how you can find the perfect balance.
After a while, you'll start noticing the burden you've placed on your children's shoulders, and you will regret making them your retirement plan. You'll feel like you are bringing them down and affecting their progress in life. But it will be too late.
The regrets will be more evident in times when your children are experiencing some financial turbulence and when they're forced to make hard decisions to keep you in their budget.
Take the case of Duncan, a 35 years old college lecturer. Duncan's firstborn passed her KCPE exam and qualified to join a prestigious National School. But despite earning a good income, his budget only allowed him to take his daughter to a cheaper school.
The most significant reason Duncan had to make this decision was tied to his parents, retired primary school teachers. He is funding their retirement life and has to send home Ksh20,000 every month as his parents' pension isn't reliable or enough to help them meet their needs.
If Duncan's parents had planned for retirement, they could've accumulated enough wealth to be self-reliant and enough to help their son pay for his daughter's school fees. But now they regret their lack of retirement planning, burdening their son and hurting their granddaughter's education.
Your future is in your hands. It's up to you to ensure that you stay financially stable and self-reliant when you are old and not working. And that starts by planning for your retirement by saving and investing in vehicles that will generate income to pay your bills.
If your children choose to help you, well and good. But don't make them your primary source of a retirement fund; it can backfire on you and force you to spend your sunset years in the dark, regretting. To avoid all this, start building your nest egg. The earlier you start, the easier it is, and the more you save.