When a mid-40s couple planning to retire soon and utilize their accumulated wealth for themselves confide their intentions to their daughters, they’re met with unexpected hostility. Torn between their pursuit of enjoyment in later life and their children’s resentful reactions, they are left questioning their decisions.
Dear Top Dollar,
I am in my mid-40s, happily married, and a parent to three kids (20F, 17F, 11M). My wife and I have carved out successful careers, earning around $300,000 annually combined. This has enabled us to provide a comfortable life for our children. However, our financial success also puts us in a position where we need to make some important decisions about our future.
Our Retirement Plan
We’re at a crossroads where we could either continue working for another 25 years, save heavily, retire at a reasonable age, and leave a substantial inheritance for our kids, or pivot towards a different path. The latter is what we are inclined to do. We wish to retire when our youngest graduates high school, live comfortably, travel more, and indulge in the fruits of our labor. We intend to spend most of our savings, leaving only a minimal inheritance for our children.
We have always been of the belief that our kids should not be waiting for an inheritance to secure their futures. We have conveyed to them that they won’t be receiving any financial aid from us as adults, save for half of their college expenses. Our desire is for our kids to make their own way in life, as we did, instead of relying on a handout.
Recently, after a minor health scare, our eldest daughter queried about our future plans. Upon explaining our financial stance, she became upset, accusing us of prioritizing our enjoyment over their wellbeing. When she shared this information with her sister, the resentment doubled. Now, we are facing conflict not only over the lack of inheritance but also for not sharing our plans earlier. I maintain the belief that it’s not their business to know about our financial decisions, yet I’m also open to the possibility of being mistaken.
In this situation, I am left questioning a few things. Should we have communicated our intentions about inheritance earlier, despite our belief that it is our business alone? How can we handle the upset caused to our daughters? And how can we uphold our desire to live our lives fully in retirement while still showing our kids we do care about their futures?
Looking forward to your advice,
Financially Free Father
Dear Financially Free Father,
In your situation, it seems clear that a lack of communication may have led to misunderstandings. While it’s true that your financial plans are your own business, informing your children of your intentions would have mitigated the shock and subsequent resentment it sounds like they feel now.
It is admirable that you want your children to be self-reliant and responsible. However, it is equally crucial to show empathy and understanding toward their feelings and concerns. A clearer communication of your values and reasons behind your choices might have helped them understand your stance.
Consider having a family discussion about what your retirement and financial plans mean for your children’s futures. This could include your philosophies on self-reliance, what support you are willing to provide, and what they should expect. It will make your stand clear and also invite their viewpoints to make them feel included.
Rebuilding trust with your daughters will be key moving forward. Listening to their concerns, validating their feelings, and addressing their doubts could pave the way for a smoother relationship. Being open to dialogue could also potentially uncover a middle ground that respects both your autonomy and your feelings of security.
Balancing Life and Responsibility
Living life to the fullest while also ensuring your children’s futures is a delicate balance. You might want to explore methods of setting aside something for them without compromising your desires. This might involve smart investments or potentially downsizing your lifestyle in certain areas.
Remember, there’s no definitive right or wrong in this. It’s about what brings peace and happiness to you and your family.
Sincerely, Top Dollar
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Josh Dudick is a financial expert with almost two decades of experience as a professional money manager, investment strategist, and venture capital investor.
Josh has held senior roles at several prominent Wall Street institutions leveraging technology with finance. In 2019 he launched his own investment fund and launched Top Dollar Investor in 2022 to help spread financial literacy and insights he has used to build wealth.
Josh graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Applied Economics & Management from the Dyson School within the SC Johnson College of Business.
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