Why Retirement Before College?

Jen asks why she should save first for retirement instead of kids’ college funds.

QUESTION: Jen on Twitter asks why she should save first for retirement instead of kids’ college funds. Dave says it’s because retiring and eating are a necessity and college is a luxury.

ANSWER: It’s because if you don’t die first, you’re going to retire someday. But you don’t always pay for college. Retiring and eating is a necessity, and college is a luxury. Lots of people succeed without going to college. Many people work their way through college as well. I worked 40 to 60 hours a week while in college and still graduated in four years.

You can go to school by getting good grades, applying for scholarships, working your butt off, getting a job and picking a school you can afford. College savings by parents to pay for school is a nice thing to do, but it is a luxury. It is not a necessity. Retiring is a necessity. I believe in paying for your kid’s college if you can. I saved up and paid for my kids’ college as long as they did what I said.

I believe in education, but I believe there are lots of ways to go to college other than parents paying for it. I don’t believe there are lots of ways to retire other than you being ready for retirement, unless you want to retire on Social Security and buy that cookbook called 72 Ways to Prepare Alpo and Love It.

College funding is not a necessity. That’s why it follows retirement. It’s important and you should try to do it, but I’m not going to guilt-trip you. There are lots of single moms out there who are not going to be able to pay a dime toward their kids’ college. And that doesn’t make you a child abuser.