Before considering whether to save for your children’s retirement, it’s essential to first make sure you can finance your own post-work life chapter, says Chris Long, CFP®, of Chicago-based Long & Associates, LLC.
“If you get to retirement and you haven’t set aside enough, you’re going to have to work longer, or you’ll have less money in retirement,” he says.
For those who have prepared themselves, there are some options to start building a child’s long-term savings.
Investing in a Roth IRA
A Roth IRA is one way a parent and child together can build an account undisturbed by taxes, according to William Baldwin, an enrolled agent and former editor for Forbes.
This option does come with limitations. For one, the child must have a job and can fund the account only with dollars earned from working, according to Baldwin, in an article for Forbes.com. However, a parent can assist in setting up and depositing the funds. The money saved this way comes with no tax deduction going into the Roth IRA, but “enjoys a full tax exemption on money coming out” decades later, according to Baldwin.
There is no age minimum for opening a Roth IRA, says Long, and working with your child to open this account can be a good way to start a conversation about the importance of saving money.
“I find so many parents don’t discuss these things with their kids, and the kids don’t have any concept of money or investing or how things work,” Long says. “Suddenly, they’re supposed to know when they’re 22.”
A Roth IRA comes with no required minimum distributions and no age limit for contributions. Additionally, when these accounts are passed on to beneficiaries, they come tax-free, according to the Vanguard Group.
Other options for investing in a child’s future
Other ways to begin a nest egg for a child can include opening a mutual fund and encouraging friends and family to contribute to it in lieu of buying other gifts, according to a Fox Business article by Rick Rodgers, CFP®, president of Rodgers & Associates, based in Lancaster, Pa.
Rodgers also recommends considering a 529 college savings plan, in which a parent or guardian contributes to the plan on behalf of a future student. These plans are usually state sponsored, with every state requiring and offering different benefits and tax advantages. For those states offering a tax break on 529 plans, Rodgers suggests reinvesting the refund in your children’s retirement.