Are you concerned about your parents' ability to retire?

Written by
Peter Dunn

I vividly remember the first time my parents stressed me out. I was in 6th grade, and I was meeting some friends at the movie theater. Like many 6th graders before me, I wanted my dad to drop me off at the corner so I could stroll upon the scene as if the God of cool 12 year olds just dropped me from the sky. He wanted to drop me off in front of the theater. You know, because he's smart. As we turned onto to the street in which the theater sat and Pops had made his final drop-off ruling, I remember thinking "what the hell, dad? You are stressing me out!" The situation was very much out of my control, and this freaked me the hell out.

My parents have freaked me the hell out several times since then. A vast majority of the time the freakout wasn't justified. Most of the freakouts were my own head garbage. Although the incidents of freak have lessened, the severity of the freak has escalated. This isn't because my parents have done anything wrong, it's just that I'm seeing their life through the eyes of an adult. Yes, I'm an adult. Now I look at their decisions and life milestones as, well, their parents would. You've done this, right? You've began scrutinizing your parents' decisions, as though you should somehow be given a vote.

Have you taken time out of your busy life to think about their retirement plans? You should. Because whether you like it or not, their retirement shortfalls instantly become your problem. This isn't callous as much as it is simply pragmatic. What do you do when the person who funded your life for at least 18 years, runs out of money? Do you step in? Can you step in? How should you step in? Like many problems, the earlier you're able to diagnose the problem, the better chance you will have at solving the problem. If your parents come to you at age 75 and say they're broke, you are all in big trouble. There's very little a person can do when a financial problem festers for decades. And by the way, if your parents run out of money, their problem has been festering for decades.

Your parents don't know how to retire. They know lots of things, but they don't know how to retire. No one actually knows how to retire, until they actually retire. They may have saved/invested a ton of money for retirement, but that doesn't necessarily mean they know how to retire. Do your parents have a plan to fund healthcare between their retirement age and age 65? You should hope so. It's one of the top four reasons that people struggle to have a successful retirement. But you are one of the biggest reasons.

What impact do you currently have on the situation? Do you still accept financial support from your parents in any way? If so, how do you justify it? They have very few years left to get their retirement plan in place. What are you NOT sacrificing so that your parents are forced to sacrifice their retirement for you? If you are accepting financial support from them, yet you are dining out, subscribing to cable, and/or going on vacation, then you are part of the problem. Just because they are in a relatively better financial situation as you, doesn't mean they are in a good financial position. How dare you spend their retirement money on luxuries for your life.

But alas, this isn't about you. This is about them. What have you proactively done to help them retire successfully? Have you lent your ear? Have you played devil's advocate? Have you provided them resources that will help them understand the important part of retirement planning, and not just their assets?

May I suggest Mock Retirement? It's a very conversational approach to retirement planning. Tell them you care. Show them you care. Buy them a book. They funded your life for nearly two decades. The least you can is help them fund their retirement.

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