'You're Setting Up The Entire Family For Trouble' — Suze Orman Warns Against This Common Retirement 'Mistake' Parents Make

As parents, it's instinctual to prioritize the needs and desires of children above all else, often putting their financial demands ahead of personal financial security. However, some financial experts say this is doing more harm than good. 

In a piece published on Today a few years ago, personal finance expert Suze Orman advises parents against this common practice, suggesting that it might lead to greater financial troubles for the entire family.

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Orman explains, "The one move that will build more financial security than any other has nothing to do with money directly." She emphasizes the importance of self-care and financial self-priority to secure a stable future. Orman argues that the mindset of placing oneself last leads to financial vulnerabilities: "So many women can't figure out how to make their needs and desires a priority in their life. You think of everyone else before you think of yourself."

She points out the specific financial sacrifices parents make that might seem nurturing but are ultimately detrimental: "You can't imagine not helping your child go to college, so you raid the retirement fund." Orman warns of the long-term consequences of such decisions, stating, "When you put any other goal ahead of retirement, you are setting up the entire family for trouble. If you pour all your money into paying for college, what exactly are you going to retire on?"

Orman discusses the ripple effects of financial decisions on children's future behaviors and expectations. "When you pretend you can afford things you can't, you are setting a horrible example for your kids. They will grow up and mimic your behavior." 

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Echoing Orman’s sentiment, experts from various financial advisory platforms stress the importance of self-care in financial planning. According to SoFi, financial self-care is crucial as it reduces money stress and helps individuals achieve their long- and short-term goals. They recommend strategies such as saving and investing wisely, which preserve and enhance one's financial health​.

An article from Ohio State University also emphasizes the impact of parents' financial behaviors on their children. The article explains that the best way to help children adopt desired behaviors is by modeling them themselves, even if children are too young to understand their reasoning. By demonstrating good financial habits, parents can instill a sense of financial responsibility in their children from an early age.

Finding a balance between supporting your children's education and securing your financial future is key. Parents don't necessarily have to choose one over the other. Consulting a financial advisor can help devise a plan that supports educational goals without jeopardizing retirement savings. This balanced approach ensures that parents can support their children's present needs while also safeguarding their own long-term financial health.

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