Alert
Close

Think you know AARP? What you don't know about us may surprise you. Discover all the 'Real Possibilities'

Highlights

Open

Rock Your Finances $50K Give Away Sweepstakes
AARP-iPad-ePub-app
Car buying made easy with the AARP Auto Buying Program

Jobs You Might Like

Most POPULAR

Viewed

Work
PROGRAMS

Best Employers for Workers Over 50

See the latest winners of this AARP recognition program.

Employer Resource Center

Attract and retain top talent in a changing workforce.

Should I Save for College or Retirement?

If you have to choose one, choose to save for your future

En español | Your retirement plans may coincide with your children entering or completing college. If you didn't start saving for tuition the moment your kids were born, but retirement is just around the corner, you might feel a bit overwhelmed about your finances. What should you save for – college? Retirement? Both?

See also: Don't make these 5 common financial mistakes.

If this is your dilemma, you're not alone. Many financial experts point straight to "The Airplane Rule." You know, when there's a change in cabin pressure you put on your own oxygen mask first, then put on your child's. With regards to retirement, this means putting your retirement saving first. If you don't, you won't be in a position to help your child.

Coin path leading to paper money house- should I save for retirement or for my child's college

There are more ways to pay for college than there are for retirement. — Photo by: Vstock/Tetra/Corbis

If you save for tuition first, you might not have enough to cover your retirement expenses and find yourself leaning on your children for support. But keep in mind, your children might not be able to financially help you down the road, either.

College tuition is astronomical compared to 40 years ago, but options to pay for school have never been greater. There are scholarships, grants and loans, along with work-study programs and the old-fashioned "work your way through school.'" Unfortunately, when it comes to funding retirement, these options don't exist except for employment.

Even though surveys consistently show that boomers expect to work past retirement age, unemployment rates remain high for workers age 50 and over.

Ideally, we should aim to set aside enough money for tuition and retirement simultaneously, if that's possible. If not, it's critical for parents to secure retirement finances first before funding children's education expenses.

Next: Crunch the numbers and talk to a financial advisor. >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Jobs You Might Like

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

UPS

Members get 15% off eligible products/services and 5% off shipping at The UPS Store®.

AARP Discounts on Consumer Cellular Phones and Plans

Members save 5% on monthly service and usage charges with Consumer Cellular.

Member Benefits

Renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Explore Your Learning Possiblities