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Retirement or College Savings

Raising Financially Savvy Children These Days Isn't Kid's Play

By Suze Orman

I don't have to tell you that raising kids presents an endless series of challenges, from getting your baby to sleep through the night to forking over the car keys to your teenager for the first time. But one of the most daunting challenges parents deal with is actually something they impose on themselves. I am talking about the notion that parents "ought" to finance 100 percent of their kid's college education, even if their ability to secure their own future takes a back seat.

As well-intentioned as I know all of you are, I would have to give an "F" to any parent who underfunds their future because they are busy saving up to send their kid to college.

Just think about this for a moment, my friends. There are plenty of financial aid options for a college student. Almost 60 percent of college students receive some aid. But there is absolutely no program I know of that will float you a loan or give you a grant so you can pay your own bills when you retire.

Since the available resources are pretty much all on one side here, might it not be possible, or should I say probable, that the best course of action for you and your children is to make sure your finances are on track before you start diverting money into a college account?

Money Does Not Equal Love

Let me review some financial facts that I know are not new to you-but bear repeating-about how much it costs to send your little ones to college. The current average annual cost at a four-year private school runs nearly $27,000 according to the College Board, while public schools clock in at a stiff $10,600. And that's per year, folks. Multiply that by four years, and two or three kids, and you are looking at some astronomical sums. And I can guarantee you that those costs are going to keep climbing. Private school costs have been rising about 5 percent a year lately, and public school costs have risen about 8 percent a year, as cash-strapped states are forcing students (and their parents) to carry more of the load. more...

Don't Mortgage Your Future

One of the best things you can do for you and your kids is to make sure you are financially secure when you reach retirement age. Given that the monthly mortgage payment is the biggest financial burden for most of us, I think one of the wisest moves is to get your mortgage paid off before you retire. more...

Respect Your Kids Even If You Don't Respect Yourself

I hope you've become open to the possibility that financially coddling your kids when you can't afford to is not a way to show love.

Now let's tackle how to come up with a responsible college plan. more...

Retirement and College Savings Checklist
To keep yourself on track to healthier personal finances, start here by printing out this checklist of important to-do's when budgeting for your future and your children's future.

Start Now!

Suze Orman has been called “a force in the world of personal finance” and a “one-woman financial advice powerhouse” by USA Today. She is the author of four consecutive New York Times bestsellers, including The Road to Wealth. Suze Orman, a Certified Financial Planner Professional®, directed the Suze Orman Financial Group from 1987-1997, served as Vice President of Investments for Prudential Bache Securities from 1983-87, and from 1980-83, was an Account Executive at Merrill Lynch.

Watch Suze every Saturday night on CNBC. Check for TV listings.

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