Matt Atchison is an Omaha financial adviser and father who occasionally blogs for momaha.
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I’m moving right down life’s conveyor belt.
First it was “eat your vegetables” and “get to bed.” Then “do your homework” and “run hard at practice.” Followed by “Don’t party too much” and “Try and get done in four years.” And for my last seven years post campus living, it’s been “go to work and save some money.”
So, at this point I was thinking my next step would be to build a nest egg over the years and eventually retire to a daily regimen of golfing and brewery tours.
Enter–> baby girl. OK, now things are different — entirely. So what do I do? I work a lot.
I am not alone in that I am motivated to be able to provide my kids (yes, we plan to have more than one) and wife the best life that I possibly can. Many parents feel this same purpose driving them to work each day. But we also have to be careful about what we give our kids. It’s one thing to provide for them, but it’s another to give them too much.
There are a lot of very hard working folks out there that are of retirement age, who want to retire, that cannot retire the way they want to retire.
I’m not going to talk about increasing your 401(k) contributions or anything like that. Since 2008, many of you are petrified of market volatility and watching your retirement portfolio ebb and flow. Totally understandable. But the truth is, as unnerving as the roller coaster can be, some of you should be far more concerned with an entirely different threat to your coveted upcoming afternoons with umbrella drinks. Your kids. Not the bad ones. It’s the good kids that are most dangerous. Like that little beauty I have that laughs at all my goofy faces and lights up when I pull in the driveway.
Ooof, the plot thickens.
Now as a new dad, I must admit I am fairly good at saying “no.” But that’s because she is infatuated with our light sockets and tries to taste my dog’s collar. I have a feeling that saying “no” will get harder as she develops that wonderful charm she has inherited from her father. “Daddy, can we please celebrate my birthday with a slumber party during the Husker game? I promise all we are going to do is laugh and scream.” A couple years later she is asking for something as simple as $20 for the mall. Then it’s a loan for her first car and eventually a security deposit on an apartment. I am not suggesting you kick your kiddos to the streets for some hard knock life lessons.
But I am saying this, lots of folks may be more likely to retire the way they want to retire if they just got better at saying “NO” to their kids. Because before you know it, they are going to be asking you to borrow $25,000 from your IRA for the down payment on their “first” dream home. And who wants to say “no” to that? Not me.
So my plan is to say “no” at least enough times before that point, so that she learns what she needs to learn so that she won’t need to ask me that question.
So where is the proverbial “line in the sand” at which I must say “no” to my kids? I have absolutely no idea. I just pray that I recognize it when I get there. But if I had to guess, I bet it’s probably somewhere between asking for $20 to go to the mall and paying for all their gas. Those teens are pretty good at figuring out what they can get from us. They get comfortable asking for money in denominations of $10 and $20 bills. The problem, for many parents nearing retirement age, is that their kids are still comfortable asking for money, just in much larger denominations.
If you are a newer parent like me, remember that you might not be doing your child a favor by getting them that really nice car unless they have some real skin in the game.
Isn’t there some relevant proverb applicable here about giving someone a fish and teaching someone to fish?
And for those of you that are in the boat of “seasoned parents” whose ship has sailed as far as teaching opportunities because your kids are no longer as malleable, I recommend you have an old fashioned heart-to-heart with them. Dave Ramsey would probably tell you to explain to your kids that they need to take charge of their own financial future. Unless of course they wish their parents’ new favorite cookbook to become “75 ways to Prepare Alpo and Love it.”
That should get the point across — at least with the good kids.
Matt Atchison, a financial adviser with Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC in Omaha and a Dave Ramsey Endorsed Local Provider of Financial Advice, can be reached at email@example.com.
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