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Tips to Make Retirement a Dream, Not a Nightmare

Ahmed Ghulamali
September 26, 2017
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What does retirement actually look like? Some people might say they will literally “turn in their papers”, go home, then putz around the house and tinker with projects for the rest of their life. Others might say they want to travel the world. Some might say they don’t actually want to “retire”, but would rather transition to work they are passionate about, without having to worry about what kind of income they receive. The bottom line is that we tend to have some idea of what we dream it to be. The problem is, there are factors that can contribute to turning our dreamy retirement into a complete nightmare.

Trying to predict that our retirement will end up being exactly as we have planned it to be is like shooting an arrow towards a bullseye as we are blindfolded. It COULD happen, but there are a lot of “what ifs” circling around our idea of a perfect retirement. For instance, what if we retire and expect to putz around the house doing projects for the rest of our life, and find that by week three we are bored out of our mind, yet we didn’t prepare or invest in doing anything different? What if we expected to travel the world, but before retiring, develop health issues that prevent us from being able to do so? The “what ifs” can be a real game changer, not only to what we get to do, but how we would be prepared to pay for it.

Here are some tips to consider when thinking about how to prepare for retirement:

Retirement vs. Financial Independence. Trying to decide now, at our current age, what retirement has to be can be quite stressful. Maybe we don’t have a clue what it should look like in regards to activities and how we will spend our time. So instead of trying to define what retirement might look like, maybe focus on working towards financial independence. Financial independence means over the course of a long-term, disciplined effort, we work with our advisors to help us make financial and protection planning decisions that lead to financial strength over time. Disciplined effort and long-term commitment are key factors when trying to build financial security. This might prove helpful with preparing for whatever retirement ends up looking like.

Planning before Investing. There are thousands of licensed financial professionals whom would love nothing more than to manage our assets by investing in the market. Many go into this with the sole goal of simply “growing assets”. They tend to focus on returns, and believe that we only want to hear that our investments are “going up” consistently. Seeing our account values “go up” is all the satisfaction they think we desire. And with that, they tend to feel like we are on track for retirement. BUT, this is not a guarantee. We can’t predict or control the markets, so this is an example of shooting that arrow blindfolded, hoping we land in the middle. Instead, consider focusing on what your assets need to DO. What job do our assets have? Knowing what the job is upfront will help us make more informed decisions not only on how to invest, but with what kind of risk we can afford to subject ourselves to. Risk management might prove just as critical as growing assets.

Start NOW! Financial planning for retirement could prove far more difficult if we wait to the last minute, vs. making effort starting now. It might seem daunting to think we have to “do everything at once”, but focusing on our future needs is just as important as focusing on our current needs. It might seem difficult to do everything at once, but that’s why working with a financial advisor who values planning prior to investing blindly might prove helpful.

We are all unique in what our lives and dreams are. And whether we are focused on exactly what we want retirement to be, or simply have no idea, the common theme is that the closer we are to having financial independence, the better chance we have of being more prepared. Financial independence shines the light on our options, which might help to make our dreams come true.  And just like when we were kids in a dark room, the nightmares tend to not go away until we turned on the lights!

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Mike Loo, MBA
August 30, 2018

Whether we attribute it to a decline in marriage rates, poor job prospects, student loan debt, technological improvements, or generational shifts, times have certainly changed for young adults. One major topic which my clients bring up centers around their adult children moving back home. While this was not a common conversation ten years ago, I come across this topic more often nowadays. I’ve heard statistics such as “a third of young people, or 24 million of those aged 18 to 34, lived under their parents’ roof in 2015”, and look at it as my job as an advisor to provide advice on how to best navigate through this new landscape.(1)

Within this topic, a common question that I try to help my clients answer is this: Should I charge my adult children rent if they move back home? What I’ve found is that every situation is different, so what may work for one family, may not work for another. However, in this article, I hope to provide a framework to consider when trying to answer the question.

Setting Expectations

Depending on your own experiences and values as parents, as well as the specific circumstance of your adult child, you may insist that they live at home rent-free. For example, if your adult child is being responsible by saving a good share of his/her paycheck for a house down payment and you want to reward that responsible behavior by letting him/her live at home rent-free, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. For other parents, such an assistance for an adult child does not make sense, and no matter what the circumstances, would believe it only right to charge for rent if living at home.

No matter where you fall on this spectrum, it is important to set expectations with your adult child. For instance, if you decide that it is out of your comfort zone to charge your child rent for living at home, then what other mechanisms can you put into place to make sure he/she does not get too comfortable? In my experience, I’ve seen parents create timelines and goals, as well as make it crystal clear that the adult child must still pitch in, in other ways such as chores or errands. While it may be a tough conversation initially, imagine the alternative. What if your child gets too comfortable living at home and would rather stay at your “hotel” rather than spread their wings in the real world!

Whether rent is being paid or not, the adult child will have a particular reason as to why they want to or need to live back at home. If they are simply being lazy and are not making an effort towards adulthood, it is crucially important to provide clear expectations. As parents, you want to always help and support, but you never want to enable. Therefore, in this example of being lazy, a parent could set expectations of applying for X number of jobs per week, or something similar.

How Much To Charge For Rent

If you do decide that it makes sense to charge your adult child rent, how much should you charge? In my experience, parents usually charge well below market rates. As parents, you want to help your child out, but you also want to build up their personal finance awareness. How much you charge will also be highly correlated to what your daughter or son can afford, and could change over their time living with you. By having an open conversation and being clear about why you will be charging them, it should not be hard to fall on a number that makes sense for your family.


There are also other ways in which your adult child could pitch in that could be alternatives to paying rent. Such alternatives could be household chores or errands, cooking meals, or even helping parents with their own work. In addition, it could make more sense to have your adult child pay for other household expenses (instead of rent), such as internet, tv, or groceries.

Another alternative could be to make their stay at your home contingent on them depositing money into their own retirement account. This way, you are teaching them how to save and plan for the future.

Finally, if you want to help them grow personally, you can make their stay at your home contingent on community service or volunteering. This is a win-win as well!


This experience can also be thought of as a great teaching moment for your child. Specifically, parents in this situation are in a unique position to extol the virtues of budgeting and personal finance when their child needs it most. If the adult child in your household has to pay you rent and decide how to allocate their small-to-no income, they will quickly learn how to budget. As a parent, you may decide to get creative and instead of using the rent money for expenses, stash it (and maybe even match it) into a savings account for your child. They will be happily surprised with a small nest egg to leave home with!

Other Considerations

Other considerations that I make sure clients consider is their own budget and retirement goals. If your adult child is going to come back home and live there, you’ll want to make sure that adding another adult to the household does not negatively affect your own goals. Because you’d anticipate that household expenses will go up, you must make sure you budget for them, based on your expectations and timeline with your adult child. Again, by having an open conversation with your adult child, I am confident that a reasonable game plan can be implemented with success.

Having this conversation is not always an easy one, but I hope that the considerations above help provide better ways to think about it. If you’d like to discuss your situation further, call my office at (949) 221-8105 x 2128, or email me at

David McDonough
September 19, 2023

The pandemic’s economic disruption altered people’s views on a wide range of money topics—from the feeling of financial insecurity to the extra burden of debt, to how best to protect their loved ones, physically and financially. People’s interest in life insurance—knowing they have a need for it—was heightened during the pandemic and remains so, as people take a closer look at their financial security and well-being. The 2023 Insurance Barometer Study, by Life Happens and LIMRA, shows this trend is prevalent among the younger generations, as well as with single mothers.

Single Moms Need the Industry’s Help

Fewer women own life insurance than men, 49% vs. 55% respectively. And that number is even starker for single moms: Just 2 of 5 single mothers (40%) own life insurance. That said, 6 in 10 single moms (59%) know they have a life insurance need gap—meaning they need coverage or more of it (vs. 41% of all adults) equaling about 5 million households. And 4 in 10 (38%) say they intend to buy coverage this year. With 7.9 million single-mom households, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there is a dire need for single moms to
purchase life insurance, or more of it.

The primary reason single moms own life insurance (63%) is the same as the general population: to cover burial costs. However, only 26% say they have it to replace lost income. And more than half (51%) say they are “extremely concerned” about leaving dependents in a difficult financial situation if they died prematurely, vs. 29% of the general population.

That’s not the only area of financial concern. In fact, single moms have increased levels of concern over a wide range of financial issues—often double-digits—over the general population.
• Having money for a comfortable retirement: 58% vs. 44%
• Saving for an emergency fund: 56% vs. 38%
• Paying monthly bills: 50% vs. 32%
• Ability to afford college: 40% vs. 22%

Owning life insurance makes people feel more financially secure: 69% of life insurance owners feel secure vs. 49% who don’t own. For single moms, this is 52% of owners feel secure vs. 30% who don’t own. The good news is that while only a third of single moms (35%) work with a financial advisor currently, more than half without one are looking for an advisor (52%) to help them navigate their finances.

Desire and Need Are on the Rise

Gen Z is growing up—they’re adults now who are in the weeds of financial responsibilities and stresses. Half of Gen Z is now 18-26 years old, which means 19 million young adults are ready for life insurance, most of whom are non-owners; and Millennials, at 27 to 42, are well into their careers and starting families. The study took a look at life insurance ownership among different age groups and found that half of all adults (52%) own life insurance, with 40% of Gen Z adults and 48% of Millennials currently owning it.

As Gen Z starts hitting life milestones such as finding a partner, buying a home and having children, half (49%) say
they either need to get life insurance or increase their coverage. And Millennials are not far behind, with 47% saying so. And they are ready to take action: 44% of Gen Z adults and 50% of Millennials say they intend to buy life insurance this year.

They also want to purchase it where they have become comfortable—online—and that goes for all generations. In 2011, 64% of people said they preferred to buy life insurance in person; by 2020, just 41% felt this way. In 2023, it dropped to 29%.

Education Is Key for Gen Z

There is work to do on educating people about ownership: 42% of all adults say they’re only somewhat or not at all knowledgeable about life insurance.
A quarter of Gen Z and Millennials say that not knowing how much or what kind of life insurance to buy stops them from getting coverage. And 37% of Gen Z and 27% of Millennials say
they “haven’t gotten around to it.”

Across generations, cost is cited as the top reason for not getting life insurance. But only a quarter (24%) of people correctly estimated the true cost of a policy for a healthy 30- year-old, which is around $200 a year.* More than half of Gen Z adults (55%) and 38% of Millennials thought it would be $1,000 or more.

With the current climate adding financial uncertainties to Gen Z and Millennials, including layoffs and inflation, it is imperative that the two age groups learn how to protect their loved ones financially. Education around finances in general, inclusive of life insurance, will be extremely beneficial, particularly for Millennials, who cite the highest overall level of financial concern (39%).

Download this comprehensive blog as a concise one-pager here:Millennials and Gen Z Lead Growing Need for Life Insurance in 2023


*Survey respondents were asked how much they thought a $250,000 20-year level term policy would cost per year for a healthy, nonsmoking 30-year-old, which is around $200.

Please source all statistics: 2023 Insurance Barometer Study, Life Happens and LIMRA© Life Happens 2023. All rights reserved.

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