When the Kids Move Out: Words of Wisdom from One Who’s Been There

“There is no doubt that, for the most part, parents are much more involved with their children and their children’s more numerous activities, than parents were when we were kids.”

If this describes you and your kids, then you need to prepare yourself for the adjustments that happen when the last child leaves the house. It can be emotionally and financially challenging, according to the Daily Messenger in the article “John Ninfo: Some advice for empty nesters”

With one less person in the household, it’s time to re-adjust your budget. Many of your everyday expenses, such as electricity, food and gas, will likely be lower. However, you may have new expenses related to your new life. You may spend more on activities that were put off until the kids grew up or find yourself dining out more often. Go slow when it comes to spending money on pricey vacations or fancy dinners. You want to strike a balance between enjoying your new-found freedom and cash flow, as well as keeping retirement savings in mind.

Assuming your cash flow is easier now, it’s time to commit to paying down outstanding debts, especially credit card debt. Reduce any interest or finance charges that you can. You might even think about paying down your mortgage or paying off a high-interest car loan. If you’ve taken on student loans or a home equity loan, now is the time to try to knock those down. At the same time, try to minimize any new spending or borrowing.

Take another look at how your retirement saving is progressing. Will you have enough at your current rate of spending, or should you ramp up your efforts, if you have room in your budget?

Have you thought about downsizing, or decluttering? Even if you are not planning on moving, your home may be filled with things you don’t need or want anymore. Set some time aside to clear out what you don’t need, donate what you can to a local charity or start planning yard sales. You don’t have to tackle this project all at once.  It is possible to donate a few hours each weekend to the task.

When was the last time you updated your will and other estate planning documents? Now is the time to revisit these matters, as well as looking at any long-term care insurance. If you don’t have a long-term policy in place, this is the time to buy it—if you can.

Are you finding yourself with a lot of free time? We don’t often ask ourselves the important questions, like “What matters to me?” and “How do I want to be remembered?” Many people find the answers to those questions in service to others. If you’re not already volunteering with an organization, find the ones that resonate with your values and get involved.

Don’t immediately start on expensive home renovations or decorations. Give yourself time to adjust to a quieter house and think about where you want to invest those resources before spending. A redecorating project is fun but may be making yourself busy and filling time. The project may not actually be affordable.

The empty nest presents many new opportunities for a fresh start. Use them wisely.

ReferenceDaily Messenger (August 26, 2018) “John Ninfo: Some advice for empty nesters”

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