ABOUT Robert

Robert McCullock graduated from San Jose State University in 1997 with a Degree in Business Administration and a concentration in Finance. He started directly in the financial services industry and has worked over 15 years for a couple major brokerage companies in area of investment consultations. Robert also spent years as a local Branch Manager [...]

Saving for your own retirement or your kids’ college: which one should come first? In this video, Pure Financial Advisors’ Robert McCullock, CFP® outlines the importance of saving for your retirement before you put money away for your children’s college education.


So a common question that I receive, especially from parents of younger children, is, “should I save for my own retirement first or should I prioritize my child’s education?” First, your own retirement is going to last, hopefully, 20, 30 years. So it’s a much bigger goal than a child’s education, which could be four years, six years, eight years I guess if they’re going to become a doctor.

When looking at a big goal like retirement, what you want to look at is what is the backup plan? If you haven’t saved for retirement, you have not built up and are not on track for your own retirement; there really isn’t one. Now, for your child’s education, if you have not saved for it, what’s the backup plan? Well, the backup plan can be a scholarship maybe, it can be your child working, it can be grants, it can be college loans. There’s other opportunities to fulfill that need for that child’s education.

Also, you want to take it from, maybe think about it from your child’s point of view. If you gave your child the choice to have a fully funded four year college education, but the cost of that would be you don’t have your retirement saved for, so that when you’re 75 years, you’re 80 years old maybe you come knocking on their doorstep and now you are in their debt in retirement. I’m going to tell you; they’re not going to be very interested in that. So you’re going to want to take care of yourself first. Your own retirement is going to be the priority.

If you are in a good space and you have your retirement on track, and you can still save for your college education for your children, I highly recommend that you do so. There are plenty of options out there: you have 529s, there’s Coverdell IRAs, there’s custodial accounts, there is prepaid tuition. There are a lot of choices out there. And if you are interested in the differences between those choices, go to PureFinancial.com, and we have that listed out. You can check out a few of the other videos we’ve done on that topic itself.

Click here for more on Retirement Planning.