With people living longer, our kids are likely to live until they are 90+ years old.
In order to financially survive these extra years, it means our kids will have to:
Retire later than previous generations, or
They will have to have a lower standard of living to make their money go further, or
Save a lot more
The first two options are not that attractive. We probably don’t want our kids working many more years or having to radically reduce their standard of living as they retire. This is why we need to help them save more. The best way to save more is to start saving earlier.
Did you know? As a parent or grandparent, in some countries (e.g. the UK) you can set up a pension for your kids now. Small amounts can make a big impact on their retirement. For example, in the UK, £100 per month from birth to 18 could be well over a million pounds by the time they are 65 years old (as the government top-ups any money to contribute towards their pension). More information on UK child pensions here.
Increasing the motivation to save for retirement
It’s hard enough for us as adults to be motivated to save for our retirement, let alone trying to get our kids to save for retirement.
What usually happens is that we spend our 20’s enjoying earning money for the first time so we spend a lot (in a lot of cases, spending so much that we go into debt). Then in our 30’s we spend on a house deposit and starting a family. We then get to our 40’s and the focus is then on retirement and we panic that we haven’t saved enough.
We need to help our kids to start saving much earlier than their 40’s. You’ll know from my previous blogs, I’m already encouraging my young daughters to start saving. I get them to think of money as seeds and they need to plant (invest) some of their seeds in order to grow a ‘Freedom Forest’. Once their ‘Freedom Forest’ is large enough, it will be producing enough seeds (money / returns) to cover their expenses and they can ‘retire’. They love seeing their ‘Freedom Forest’ grow.
Instead of saying that they will only benefit from their ‘Freedom Forest’ in 50+ years, I’ve spoken to them about the opportunity to have ‘mini-retirements’.
What are ‘Mini-Retirements’?
Typically, our life is split into three blocks:
The thought of working for 50+ years could be very daunting. It is also easy to see them feeling like they can put off worrying about retirement until later in life.
An alternative approach is to get kids to focus on having a series of ‘mini-retirements’ throughout their lives. This means taking a few years off work to spend time with their family or to do something fun (i'm not saying that spending time with your family isn’t fun of course!):
This approach might mean our kids ultimately retire a bit later than the traditional approach but they get to benefit from these mini-retirements. As an example, instead of retiring at 70 years old, kids can plan to retire at 74 years old but have 2 ‘mini-retirements’ before that.
Why have mini-retirements?
There is a famous saying that says:
When we are young we have our health and time but limited wealth
When we are working we have health and wealth but no time
When we are retired we have wealth and time but our health isn’t what it was.
Mini-retirements allow us to have periods where we have all three: Health, Wealth and Time. Whilst only for a period of time, those periods could be the best of our lives. Essentially, you are taking a few years from your older years and using them whilst you are younger and healthier.
This is especially true for those with young families. By having these mini-retirements, they’ll get to experience more time with their kids. I know a lot of people who wish they had spent a few years with their kids rather than just working non-stop and only seeing them at weekends.
It’s not just about spending time with friends and family. Mini-retirements have so many other benefits. It provides time to write that book they might have always wanted to write. It could be learning a new language. Seeing more of the world. Starting their own business. We probably feel we could have done more if we just had more time.
How will our kids finance a ‘mini-retirement’?
The truth is that in order to be able to have these ‘mini-retirements’ our kids need to grow up to be savers. They need to develop the habit of saving some of the money they receive and, with your help, investing that money (learn more here).
The money saved (invested) will start to provide them with a new income which will cover the costs of their ‘mini-retirement’. This means that they won’t just be eating into their savings.
If they don’t grow up as savers then they are more likely to use debt and be unable to have enough money to afford a ‘mini-retirement’.
There is also the option of having ‘mini-retirement’ overseas. Most people reading this blog are living in the developed world. If our kids are fortunate enough to save and even get on the property ladder, then they have the option of having their ‘mini-retirement’ overseas where living costs are much lower. The income from renting out their property could cover their mortgage interest and a lot of their expenses. This could be an amazing life experience as they get to see new parts of the world and learn about new cultures.
The above shows that if your kids like the concept of mini-retirements, it is possible for them to finance it (the key is to form a savings mindset early).
Focusing on ‘mini-retirements’ could also have very positive financial benefits. If they learn to save then it could mean they could retire (for good) at a younger age (not having to wait until they are 70).
Also, they might find that when they are on a ‘mini-retirement’ they discover something which can make them a lot more money. This could be from writing the book they have been thinking about or starting a business or just sharing tips on something they are passionate about. These could turn into new streams of income which last for many years.
Fears about Mini-retirements?
‘Mini-retirements’ won’t be for everyone. Some people will fear that getting off the career ladder could negatively impact their future earning potential (I know a lot of mums will be saying ‘Welcome to our world!’). Our kids will need to decide for themselves whether this (potential / perceived) loss in earnings potential has a greater benefit than having more ‘freedom’ whilst they are young adults.
The purpose of writing this blog is to encourage you to talk to your kids about ‘mini-retirements’ as a potential opportunity in the future. It’s the same with talking to your kids about being an entrepreneur. Not all kids will want to become an entrepreneur but all kids should know that it is an opportunity.
Our real-life experience
As mentioned in my blog ‘living my dream life’, my wife and I decided to take time out from the corporate world to spend more time with our kids. The money we make from our savings / investments covers our expenses whilst we are not working.
For our kids, we explain that mummy and daddy can spend all this time with them as we have our blue tree forest which produces seeds (investments that we have built up and which provides us an income). They are motivated to grow their own blue tree forest so they can do what we are doing when they are older.
Don’t get me wrong, we want them to decide what they do with their lives and how they use their money. We just want them to grow up seeing that there are different options / opportunities if they save.
For our kids' generation, old-age retirement can seem like a million years away and hard for them to be motivated to worry about it until it is too late. As parents, we should do what we can to help and this means encouraging them to learn to save as early as possible.
Introducing the concept of ‘mini-retirements’ could be a great motivator to help them start saving more. ‘Mini-retirements’ could allow them to have these golden periods where they have ‘health, wealth and time’ which is a rare scenario.
For more about this topic, I’d strongly recommend you read the book ‘The 4-Hour Work Week’ by Tim Ferris. This book was a great motivator for our family to save a little extra and live the amazing life we are fortunate enough to be living at the moment.
Thanks for reading!
What to read next? How to teach your kids about pensions
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