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If you are a childfree individual or family, your financial planning has a different foundation than most. For those not familiar, childfree means you do not have children and are not planning on having children. When you have made the choice to live a childfree life, you have chosen a different way of life than most people. It is not better or worse, it is just different. Being childfree means you have more options which is both freeing and a bit scary. You get to choose your future with a freedom that few could ever have. You get to choose what ‘wealth’ means to you. You get to live a life of childfree wealth.
Childfree wealth includes achieving your personal, professional, and financial goals if you plan for it. Childfree wealth is different in many ways, but here are the top 7 to consider:
- You have full control of your future.
- Flexibility needs planning.
- Financial BINGOs happen.
- Investing has different goals, and FIRE is possible.
- Long-term care needs to be planned for.
- Your estate and legacy are different.
- Childfree financial planning is completely different.
You Have Full Control of Your Future.
The truth is that as a childfree individual, your future is 100% in your hands. We have the choice to do what we want, but that is once again something that will make us ‘weird’. If you have always wanted to open a cupcake shop, you can. If you want to travel the world, do it. If you want to be the top person in your field, go ahead! If you want to live a true minimalist life in a van, no problem. You can live on less, live in areas without a ‘good school system’, and enjoy all of life.
The problem is the paradox of choice. Popularized by the psychologist Barry Schwartz in his book “The Paradox of Choice – Why More is Less”, the paradox at its core says that the more options we have, the less happy we are. Parents of children have their choices made by standard ‘life events’. Their choices are now limited and made largely based on the needs of their kids. They can’t take that new job halfway around the world. They don’t even get to pick how they want to spend their free time. As childfree individuals, our only limitations are set by ourselves. Limitless options can lead to depression and feelings of loneliness. We have to realize that and take control.
Flexibility Needs Planning.
The classic model of ‘adulthood’ has us going through life transitions related to children. There is a belief that one ‘grows up’ after their first child. While this is not always true, it does cause people to look at the world differently. As childfree individuals and families, we can often ‘wing it’ for a longer period. It is easier to ‘out-earn your stupid mistakes’ when you don’t have kids. At some point, we need to start planning for our future, even if we don’t have the ‘standard’ life transitions.
Planning (both for life and finances) is the difference between dreaming about our goals and achieving them. Planning sets priorities and keeps us moving forward. Those who want to run a marathon (not me. ) don’t just get up and run a marathon. They work with a coach and set a training plan. They follow their training plan and make adjustments when things don’t go as planned. If you want to run that perfect cupcake shop, planning includes both personal and business budgeting, marketing and more. Whatever you decided you want to achieve, you need a plan (and possibly a coach) to get there.
Financial Bingos Happen.
I’m assuming we have all had a bingo happen before. My personal favorite was when of my staff members (who had 3 kids) stopped me in the stairway and said “I’ve been thinking about you and your wife… You are both smart and should have children, why aren’t you…” Gotta love it when one of your employees is staying up at night thinking about your childfree life.
A financial bingo is an extension of our childfree life. It goes like this: “You don’t have kids, so you can afford…” or “Since you don’t have kids, you should help me pay for mine…” If you haven’t had a financial bingo yet, it is coming. It is amazing that family and friends have plans for how to spend your money (especially after the success of your cupcake shop). If you even once give in, you become a bank for everyone. The problem with giving people money is they ALWAYS come back for more.
Investing has Different Goals, and FIRE is Possible.
As a childfree individual or family, your financial goals are different. You are not saving for your kid’s college, or to pass an estate to your kids. You can set a path towards FIRE. FIRE stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early. The FIRE movement has grown in popularity and ranges from Barista FIRE (Retire early and work as a barista or the like for interaction/healthcare, aka Lean FIRE) to Fat FIRE (Retire early with a lot of money and live a Fat life) and anywhere in-between. Personally, I like to think about it as Financial Independence, Live Early (FILE?) but that isn’t as sexy as FIRE.
Long-Term Care Needs to be Planned For.
Your long-term care as a childfree individual (or family) must be planned for. People with kids often assume (and are often wrong) that their kids will take care of them in their old age. This has led to an entire ‘sandwich generation’ of people taking care of both their kids and their parents at the same time. You know that you cannot count on anyone else to take care of you, so you need a plan.
By the time you hit 50, you need to have long-term care insurance in place (younger if you have a reason). Long-term care is expensive. It is cheaper to live on a cruise ship year-round than to live in most skilled nursing facilities. Good long-term care (LTC) insurance should have options for both in-home and skilled facility care. You want to stay in your house if you can. Your LTC policy may even help pay for modifications needed for you to stay home (such as a ramp or special bed). LTC plans aren’t cheap, but unless you have an extra million to self-insure, you need a plan.
You also should engage with a professional to serve as your healthcare proxy and possibly power of attorney if needed. You need a living will that has your medical wishes and includes who your healthcare proxy is. It is that person who will be deciding your care. The classical healthcare model would look to kids to make that decision, and you don’t want the hospital trying to figure out on the fly who to listen to if you are incapacitated.
Your Estate and Legacy are Different.
No one wants to talk about dying, but it will happen to all of us. You need a will and an estate plan. If you don’t have a will or estate plan, it will be up to your State what happens to everything you own. Depending on the State, your hard-earned money may go to a relative or just be given to the state if they can’t find a descendent. The system is designed for those who have kids, so you need a plan.
The first step is to determine what you want your legacy to be. Since you are childfree, you planned well, invested, and may have a sizable estate. There is nothing wrong with deciding you are spending it all on your way out. It is your money after all. If you knew the date of your death, it would be an easy equation to determine what you can spend (maybe living year-round on a cruise ship is a good long-term care plan 🙂 ). The reality is that you need a plan for what you leave behind, which is your legacy.
Childfree Financial Planning is Completely Different.
The bottom line is that childfree financial planning is completely different. The ‘standard’ financial (and life) plan is based upon assumptions of family structure and milestones that just don’t apply to you. I am a childfree, fee-only, advice-only, fiduciary CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. In my entire training (requirements include a BS, 6 additional courses, 3 years of experience, an exam, and more), there was never a mention about how plans are different for childfree families. As a matter of fact, all planning either included children or planned for them.
About the Author
Dr Jay Zigmont is a Childfree CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. He holds a PhD in Adult Learning from the University of Connecticut. His focus is on helping people to learn how to manage their money and achieve their dreams. For more about him, check out his website at https://childfreewealth.com
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