8/20/2012 2:15 PM ET|
10 money questions for your mate
6. What do we owe the kids?
If you don't already have them, a discussion about whether you will is obviously in order. Even if you don't believe the government's estimate that a middle-class child costs nearly a quarter-million bucks to raise to age 18, you can rest assured that the little buggers will profoundly affect your financial life.
Once you have children, the big question becomes how much you're going to pay to educate them. Couples that agree on most other financial goals, Richards said, can have widely divergent views about their obligation to pay for college.
"One might say, 'I put myself through college, so they can too,' and the other wants to be able to pay 100% of the best school they can get into," Richards said.
Granted, most parents won't be able to afford to save for a full ride to Harvard if they ever hope to retire -- and retirement savings should be your priority. But how much you can save versus how much you're willing to save may be quite different.
Another issue is how you feel about your kids coming back to live with you if they're facing financial difficulties. Would you open your doors, under what conditions and for how long?
7. What do we owe our parents?
A quarter of baby boomers provide personal care, financial help or both to their parents, according to a recent MetLife study. Caregiving responsibilities can curtail the hours adult children are able to work and may lead to early retirements that further affect income and retirement savings. In fact, the MetLife study estimated that such caregiving will cost boomers nearly $3 trillion.
Clearly, this is something we need to be talking about. But too many of us don't until there's a crisis and we suddenly have to make snap decisions. Will Mom move in with us? Does she have money to pay for care, or will we pitch in for that? If it's a choice between caring for Dad and continuing to work, what should we choose? And how do we balance all this with any obligations we feel we owe our kids?
"This is a big deal for the age group that's in their 40s and 50s," Richards said. "They've got responsibilities for their parents and their kids at the same time."
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