Save for Retirement Before You Even Think About the Kids’ College Fund

Meghan McArdle:

Every year, investment firm T. Rowe Price does an annual survey called “Parents, Kids and Money.” This year, the report offered some disturbing news: Parents of all boys were more likely to be saving for college than parents of all girls. This kind of antediluvian attitude is alarming in this day and age, and Forbes properly highlighted it. But buried in that survey I found other alarming factoids: More families have college savings than retirement savings, and over two-thirds of families said they prioritized saving for college over retirement.

If this describes you, it’s time to rethink your priorities. Saving for retirement is a necessity. Saving for college is something optional that you do after you make sure you’ll have food and shelter in your old age.

It seems obligatory to mention that I do not have children. Some readers who do have children will tell me that I just don’t understand, as parents do, that their kids come first — that having brought this life into the world, they are responsible for giving it the best possible start. (Or at least a start commensurate with those of your peers’ children. Keeping up with the Joneses is expensive.)