Money Decisions for Midlife Parents With Young Kids

When you’re around 50 and your child is under 10, financial concerns take on a sense of urgency

by Suzanne Olson • Next Avenue
Midlife Parent Next Avenue Image
Photograph: Courtesy of Suzanne Olson

It hit me at my 30th high school reunion in 2011 that my life had followed a different trajectory than that of most of my peers. While they talked of sending their babies off to college and bragged about grandchildren, I was prepping for my son’s first day of kindergarten. The costs of child-rearing were largely behind my old pals, but I was just getting started.
 
My husband, Kirk, and I joined the parenting ranks six years ago, at 44, when we adopted Leo as a toddler from a Russian orphanage. Now Leo is 7 and we’re all living in suburban Minneapolis. Barring unforeseen circumstances involving the economy, the U.S. government and our son’s academic achievements, Kirk and I will pay off the mortgage, qualify for Social Security at age 62 and send Leo to college all in the same year: 2024.

No Time to Waste
 
Right now, though, as midlife parents of a young child, my husband and I find ourselves facing major financial decisions simultaneously, from paying for college to saving for retirement to protecting our family with insurance – and all with a greater sense of urgency than other parents in their 20s and 30s with a son Leo’s age.
 
(MORE: A Money Makeover for the Financially Conservative)
 
It’s not all bad, though.
 
“The biggest plus for midlife parents is that time is finite,” said Susan Beacham, the Chicago-area mother of two girls and chief executive of Money Savvy Generation, an educational program and website that teaches financial education to schools and families. “We don’t have the perceived luxury of time to waste.”
 
Midlife parents have a different perspective on financial wants and needs than young ones, Beacham said, and their list of goals may be different.
 
“We have made our money mistakes and learned from them,” she said. “We can’t help but look at life differently because we have lived it.”
 
Beacham has firsthand knowledge. In 2005, when her girls were in fifth and seventh grade, she received a diagnosis of cancer, just a few weeks after buying a life insurance policy. Now cancer-free, Beacham recognizes how the experience affected her entire family and is grateful to have purchased the insurance when she did.

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First Published Thu, 2013-05-02 14:25

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