Erin Bui chats about her parents and the concerns of a mature couple, at the stage in life where they’re sending their children off to college, helping pay for college costs, and the important checklist of things to do as the empty nest looms.
When you were young and just got married, you probably thought you had all the time in the world. You had children, secured stable jobs, bought a house, several cars, accumulated some debt and worried about college costs and miscellaneous daily needs. Then it just flew by. Your kids are now teenagers. But now that the empty nest is approaching, time is of essence and at this point of time, it’s more important than money.
Empty Nest Concerns
Do you feel like you are losing control?
Are your children growing up and about to step in adulthood, and is that making you nervous?
Do you have a plan for yourself and your spouse’s future? What are you looking forward to?
As a first-year college student, I have a lot of stuff going on. Most days I wake up at 6 in the morning, then get to campus by 7:30 am and go to class, but next thing I know it’s 6 pm. I realize that time passes by so fast when you’re busy. Imagine raising children for 20 years. You blink and they’re grown up.
My parents are not getting any younger. Their kids are growing up and are in college, with me being one of them. However, they are still worried about college costs.
I know when I have discussions with them that they are also concerned about possible health issues arising, and unlike a younger person’s health issues which usually get better over time, older adults might develop a condition that is much more permanent.
Beyond the health scare, it is also financially frightening. My parents would have to worry about taking care of each other plus other debts such as medicine bill, as Medicare and other insurances get fussy about what they cover. The list is endless.
Mature Couple Checklist
That is why it is so important to get prepared early when times are good. These are the things that need to be done for a mature couple seeing their kids leave for college:
- Life Insurance – We review the term plan and figure out if we can convert to a permanent insurance with a lower face amount. At this point, do you really need that much insurance? Your house is probably close to being paid off. Now you just want to leave a little something for your children.
- Estate Plan – This becomes more important than ever. An update may need to be created, especially if one of the kids is mature enough to be a trustee.
- Long Term Care – When a couple is in their 50’s, it is the best time to enter into an LTC plan, because they can lock in their good health and the costs aren’t so high.
- Annuities/Investments – As the couple is now older, a heart to heart about exposure to the stock market is essential, especially in regards to existing 401(k) and IRA accounts. Can you, being older and looking towards retirement, handle the ups and downs? Maybe an annuity is safer and provides income for a lifetime. Most people like that stability, while others opt to continue with their stock market exposure.
- Special Needs Families – It is really at this age that special needs families need to plan, especially if their child is on the low-functioning end of the spectrum. While the parents were used to playing Supermom and Superdad in their younger age, the realities of aging should necessitate a well thought out care plan for their vulnerable child.
As a mature couple, you both want to plan for your future and your family’s future, but things have changed now that your situation and priorities have changed. You should look at working with a trusted advisor who can help you prioritize, set your goals and manage future risk in a plan that makes sense.
Erin Bui is the Mangus Finance Circles specialist based in Riverside, CA, focused on helping special needs and senior communities with financial education and awareness.