Donna Freedman (aka Mom) wrote a very good post recently about why she’s neglecting her Roth. I know her comfort zones, so I agree with her reasoning. Well… all but one thing:
“My fondest wish is not to apply for Social or take any money out of the retirement accounts until I absolutely must. That’s because I want to leave as much as I can to my daughter, who got a late start saving for her own retirement due to disability and other issues.”
It’s true that when it comes to retirement accounts, we’re far behind most personal finance bloggers. We’re still not able to max out even basic IRAs thanks to home repairs, HVAC units and major medical expenses.
But I still don’t want her money.
What she’s giving up
Every leftover dollar in her account will be one she could’ve spent on herself: travel, more frequent massages for her bad back/frozen shoulder, etc.
Obviously, I’m not advocating blowing through all her money now. Especially since we have an agreement that she won’t die for 150 years.
Still, it bothers me that she forgoes things for my sake, even if she doesn’t really mind.
And she doesn’t. She actually enjoys being frugal, and her partner likes to save too. She also finds money in the budget to travel, though not as frequently as she might like. So it’s not that she’s depriving herself completely.
In fact, she’ll tell you that she’s doing fine and that she doesn’t lack for comfort. But this is a woman who was 54 years old before she finally accepted that it really was okay to have a strategic pizza once in awhile.
And it took me years to convince her that her pay from MSN Money meant she could quit her stressful apartment manager job.
So frankly I don’t trust her to recognize just how much she’s giving up. Which is why I don’t like her goal.
Obviously, I’ll accept whatever money she does leave me, since she seems hellbent on it. But I don’t actively want her to leave me money because a) it’s morbid and b) I want her to enjoy the fruits of her labor.
I want her to get to a point where she better prioritizes “living” over “making a living.”
I’d rather she spend money on more fun things. Or that she work even less in order to pursue more passion projects, like her amazing writing course. (Which everyone needs to buy, incidentally. So yeah, get on that, wouldya?)
The age of entitlement
But it’s not just my mom I’m worried about. I’m concerned by the sheer number of people now see an inheritance as a normal part of life.
Once upon a time, it was only the upper class who worried about such things. The non-rich might be able to leave their children a house or business.
Now? Parents fret about saving money for their kids’ college and having something for the will. They can even prioritize those goals over their own retirement.
I know that parents want to put their children first. It’s admirable. But the airlines have it right (in one thing anyway): Put your own oxygen mask on first.
I understand that there are parents who can leave money without torturing the budget. If that’s the case, well then save away. As long as you take the occasional cruise or something.
And there are parents out there who, from one point of view, actually owe their children: people who abuse, neglect or otherwise emotionally/physically cripple their kids.
Hell, if my dad left me money (and he wouldn’t, even if he had any), I’d snatch it up in a heartbeat. He filled my childhood with dread. Money won’t fix that, but I’d love to see it try.
But wealthy and/or terrible parents are in the minority. Meanwhile, the rest of the population feels pressured to leave their children a safety net. Perhaps they even believe they’re bad parents if they can’t.
Worse, kids can start believing they’re entitled to money. Entitlement rarely ends well, and in the meantime it tends to be fairly snotty.
The idea of dealing with generations of that… Well, it’s not an appealing prospect.
We’ve got (almost) nothing to give
Or hey, maybe this is sour grapes.
Even if we’re able to have a kid, we probably won’t have much to leave the lil’ sucker.
As already mentioned, we’re way behind in saving for retirement. That needs to be our top priority in 2016. Then paying off the mortgage. Then steeling ourselves for home repairs, medical issues and other unexpected expenses. Of which we have many.
So we probably won’t even be able to help out much with college. It sucks, but it comes down to oxygen masks. We can’t help anyone if we can’t breathe — financially or otherwise.
And our adorable tax deduction will be happy there’s a paid-off home to come live in while (s)he deals with huge student loans and a potentially bad job economy.
So I guess we’ll have to do that crazy thing where we just provide an environment of love, support and encouragement. Let that be our legacy.
Goodness knows, it’ll stick around long after any money runs out.
Have any of you inherited money? Do you feel obligated to leave your children money?