Will Having a Child Ruin Your Retirement? Not If You Can Dare To Be Different

To have a child or to retire? It doesn't have to be an either/or situation if you think differently, question the assumptions and follow these three simple steps to dramatically cut costs.

May 17, 2014 at 1:00PM

Over the course of 18 years, how much do you think it costs to raise a child in the United States?

According to a 2012 study, the total bill will run you about $241,000 in today's dollars. Throw in the cost of a four-year in-state public university  and we're looking at a grand total of about $313,000.

When the average 30-year old has retirement savings of just $13,000 in the bank, it's easy to see why some begin to think the possibility of having a child and actually retiring are just about impossible.

3 simple steps to shave off half of those costs -- if you can dare to be different
When you look at sobering statistics like this, you start to wonder how we ever got to this point. The answer is actually pretty simple: first, too often, we live beyond our means. And second, we have come to believe that there is one well-worn path for our kids to follow in order to be successful in life. It's so engrained in our society that many of us don't even stop to think about it.

Below, I'll present three very simple steps to help you question these assumptions, and help shave over 55% off of these costs. I'm a big fan of the KISS method of living ("Keep It Simple, Stupid"), so don't expect to be blown away by financial wizardry. Oftentimes, the most effective solutions are maddeningly simple.

You might notice the numbers are a little different from the ones above; that's because I broke out a specific situation -- a Midwestern urban couple making between $60,000 and $105,000 -- rather than taking the average across all demographics.

Of course, everyone's situation is different, but for those worried about affording a child and actually having money left over to retire, these three represent great starting points.

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Have a Kid or Save for Retirement? It's Not "Either Or" from Brian Stoffel

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A Financial Plan on an Index Card

Keeping it simple.

Aug 7, 2015 at 11:26AM

Two years ago, University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack wrote his entire financial plan on an index card.

It blew up. People loved the idea. Financial advice is often intentionally complicated. Obscurity lets advisors charge higher fees. But the most important parts are painfully simple. Here's how Pollack put it:

The card came out of chat I had regarding what I view as the financial industry's basic dilemma: The best investment advice fits on an index card. A commenter asked for the actual index card. Although I was originally speaking in metaphor, I grabbed a pen and one of my daughter's note cards, scribbled this out in maybe three minutes, snapped a picture with my iPhone, and the rest was history.

More advisors and investors caught onto the idea and started writing their own financial plans on a single index card.

I love the exercise, because it makes you think about what's important and forces you to be succinct.

So, here's my index-card financial plan:


Everything else is details. 

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