When flying, have you ever listened to the pre-takeoff safety demonstration? If you’re not distracted by the screaming baby behind you or the couple arguing over the window seat next to you, you’ll hear flight attendants explain what to do in the event of lost cabin pressure: “Secure your own oxygen mask before helping your child.” Why? If you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t be able to help anyone. You’re already gone – leaving your child alone to fend for themselves.
Parents instinctually want to protect their children, whether it is from physical harm or financial hardships like massive student loans or unmanageable expenses. Wanting to provide for a child’s education and other expenditures is noble, but often causes parents to sacrifice their own financial well-being. Despite good intentions, parents who don’t save enough for retirement often need to rely on their children for support later in life, which could place a financial and emotional strain on them and their families – who should be focusing on saving for their own retirement.
Balancing your own interests versus those of your children is a struggle every parent experiences. But what they’ll remember most is not the bills you paid or the gifts you bought; it’s the example you set by making responsible decisions to ensure your own financial independence. Work with us to make sure your financial oxygen mask is secure before assisting your children with theirs.
Brooke Wano, CFP®