Can You Plan for Retirement When You Don’t Even Have Kids Yet?

Dollar dollar bill y’all

two queer women sitting on steps

A few months after our wedding was over and done with, I had a major heart to heart with my wife, Karyne. The TL;DR read a little like this: I SUCK at finances. She agreed that indeed, when it came to money, I was REALLY good at keeping Amazon in business, but significantly less good at keeping our finances in the black. And while she kinda, sorta budgeted via some dated spreadsheet she started back in the early 2000s, it was definitely clear to both of us that we were pretty behind on taking control of our financial shit.

I asked Karyne if she would be the head money guru in our relationship, promising that I would completely adhere to our mutually decided upon plan. We signed up for YNAB, thanks to some great advice from Maddie, and totally got it together. Or, at least it felt that way for about five minutes.

But before we get to the stressful part of the story, let’s take a minute to chalk up our wins. Because in a short span, we got ourselves well on the way to paying off some credit card debt, we got rid of a totally jacked up student loan (goodbye twelve percent adjustable interest!!), and actually started saving money for our upcoming journey of same-sex parenthood (cause that shit ain’t free!). And for the first time in my adult life, I’m living within my means, and budgeting for things BEFORE they happen instead of charging them and trying to back pay it all. Damn, it feels really good!

retirement is not a four-letter word

But while we were basking in the glow of our newfound financial badassery, the R word quickly cropped up: RETIREMENT. With Karyne turning forty next year, and me sliding into my mid-thirties, retirement isn’t as far away as it once seemed. I have a 401(k) from a former job that I no longer contribute to and is pretty small, but is invested, and Karyne has a 401(k) at her current job, plus the many from previous jobs that she rolled over into an IRA. But we’re not so naive to think that’ll cover us.

The thing is, we want to be parents. And as a gay couple, that’s going to cost plenty of money before we’re even holding a little bundle of future expenses joy in our arms. And then of course there will be years of childcare, clothing, food, dental bills, prom outfits, and let’s-not-even-think-about-college. Otherwise known as LIFE.

But still, we’re not going to be able to work forever, and saving for the future is a thing we need to think about… and think about now. Or so the financial planners tell us. So how do we navigate saving for a family, especially one we don’t know exactly how much it’ll cost to create, while also saving for that not-so-distant future that (hopefully) includes a retirement?

Even though many of us keep our finances hush-hush, I know we’re far from alone. For those of you, who like us, have just managed to get your finances and budgeting into decent shape, how do you balance saving for now, and saving for later? How do you live for today, and live for tomorrow? How do you do it all without many panic attacks?

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