In the middle years, save for retirement before you pay tuition

We both went on to earn masters degrees, which we paid for ourselves. In the meantime, we had been saving for retirement, as well as college for our daughter. My wife is very adamant that we pay for her college, as this was done by her parents for her. Clearly we have differing opinions on this. Should You Save for College or Retirement First?

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Many parents choose to pay a percentage of the total bill, cover certain expenses (e.g. tuition, technology fees or room and board), pay for a set number of years, or contribute as much as they.

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The most prestigious colleges have financial aid programs that reach well into the upper middle class. Stanford’s tuition is free for families making less than $125,000 per year. At Harvard, families making up to $180,000 pay a percentage of their income rather than the full tuition.

While your kids can apply for scholarships to pay their college tuition, you don’t have the same types of resources if you need money during retirement. There is no financial aid for those retiring – Social Security should be treated as a safety net, and not your primary income source in retirement.

He or she could even go to community college for two years and then transfer to a four-year school to save money. You may not have the same alternatives available for retirement. You will likely have Social Security benefits. You may have a pension, rental income or some other source of cash flow. But a substantial amount of your expenses may have to be covered with savings. There are no scholarships or loans available if you fall short. Best of Both Worlds. You can also save for both goals.

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By the time I pay off my loans and save a good amount for their college fund, I might be 40 years old before I can even start saving for retirement. Add in the costs of having kids in the first place and potential home ownership and you can tack a few more years onto that retirement savings delay.