6 Ways to Help Your Parents and Still Save for Retirement

Adult daughter writes notes while talking with senior mother

This expert’s advice is aimed to let both generations retire comfortably. [Photo credit: Adobe Stock]

By Rick Pendykoski for Next Avenue

No matter how much you’ve saved for retirement, it always seems like you need more. But what if, in addition to your own expenses, you also have to support your parents?

Statistics published by TD Ameritrade say that over a quarter of boomers are already supporting another adult and close to 8 percent of those adults are their retired parents.

If your parents’ savings and assets aren’t enough for their retirement, you may end up providing care and financial help, derailing your own future plans as a result.

Here are 6 tips to follow so both you and your parents can retire comfortably:

1. Analyze Their Finances and Savings

It can be tough for parents in their 70s or 80s to open up about money troubles to their grown kids in their 50s or 60s. But you can’t come up with a financial plan without knowing what you’re working with.

Be clear: In your conversation with your parents, let them know that you don’t want them to struggle or be a burden on anyone.

You may have to use tough love or get a third party (like a financial adviser or retirement expert) to mediate. If your parents get defensive or emotional about the topic, remind them that they’ll feel much worse approaching you for financial help later.

2. Make Sure They Have the Right Home

No matter what, your parents should always have a home where they are comfortable, secure and well cared for. They’ll want to retain their independence, but at some point, assisted care may become essential.

If you have siblings, sit down with them and discuss what to do when your parents can’t care for themselves. Retirement homes and assisted living facilities are expensive, so you could choose for them to move in with one of you (which an offer some surprising benefits for everyone concerned).

3. Get Their Insurance Up-To-Date

If your folks haven’t bought enough insurance to cover medical expenses, long-term care and other retirement costs, do it for them if you can.

Here’s why this is so important: If you don’t invest in financial protection for your parents now, you could be paying through your nose for even the most basic retirement expenses later. Health care costs in particular are rising every day, so this is equally important for your financial stability and theirs.

4. Consult a Retirement or Financial Expert

If you want to help your parents build a rock-solid financial strategy, take them to meet with an experienced financial planner.

An expert’s advice about insurance, debt repayment, projected expenses, retirement plans or other financial vehicles can be invaluable.

However, make sure you visit an adviser who won’t try to push certain products for a commission or financial gain. Ask friends, relatives and colleagues for recommendations about reliable and effective planners in your area.

5. Don’t Let Your Parents Fall for Scams

If your parents are trying to boost their nest egg, they may be tempted into making investments that promise huge returns but are actually scams targeting the elderly.

Declining mental health may also affect their ability to make wise decisions, which is why scammers treat retirees as prime targets.

Keep track of where and how your parents are spending money, become involved in helping them study investments or “deals” and remain alert for any suspicious activity.

6. Keep Your Own Future in Mind

As your parents get older, you will likely want to help them live out their retirement years in comfort and security. At the same time, you can’t put your own plans on hold forever. If you do, you may end up relying on your children someday because your savings were exhausted in the process of supporting your parents.

Be clear to your parents about the limits of your support, ask your siblings to pitch in and look for organizations who may be able to help if needed.

If you want to save while helping your parents maintain their quality of life, encourage them to enhance their retirement fund.

Remember, money isn’t the only kind of support your parents will need as they get older. Set aside time to spend with them as well — it’s precious and limited!

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