Saving for Retirement VS. Funding Your Child's Education: What Comes First?

Saving for retirement or your child’s education is an ongoing debate many parents face throughout their lives, but it’s important to strike a balance between your own financial independence and funding your child’s near or long-term future.

As children get older, the case for putting their education needs first is compelling—especially considering lifetime earnings potential with a bachelor’s degree—but you still need to take care of yourself. Finding the right balance requires thorough planning and making some tough choices. Here are some tips to make the process a little easier:

  • Determine ‘Real’ College Prices: As you begin to investigate college options, note that there is a big difference between the published price of tuition and fees and the price after grants and scholarships have been applied. The national average ‘net price’ for a public school is $12,272, while the national average net price for a private school is $21,778.
  • Figure Out What You Can Afford: Create a game plan with your financial advisor that balances education and retirement funding with other cash flow needs. The plan should also reveal whether education decisions will saddle young graduates or their families with debt burdens that prevent them from reaching other financial goals.
  • Set Expectations with Your Child: Once you have a plan in place, it’s important to communicate with your child. Discuss his or her college possibilities and how they match up against your expectations of what you’re able to afford to ensure you’re on the same page when it’s time to make a decision.


When you’re saving for retirement and funding your child’s education, the truth is you don’t have to pick one or the other. But you do need to have a plan. Give us a call to start the conversation.

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