Making the Most of your Empty Nest Years

 In a recent meeting, I asked a client how their year had been and they exclaimed:

“It’s like being in college, only with money!”

The words struck a chord. After raising two children, educating them, and seeing them move away (fully employed) my clients were busy starting their empty nest years.  As they explained, after years of doing the right things financially, they were ready and excited for the next chapter in their lives before retiring.  Fortunately, they are healthy, both physically and financially, and have begun weaving more leisure and travel into their schedules.  Their new lifestyle is a fine reward for years of delayed gratification in some areas and I couldn’t be happier for them. 

Planning for the Empty Nest

Here are some of the keys to living well during the empty nest years:

  • Make time to plan – ideally over multiple years
  • Spend less than you earn – this may be financial planning 101 but it takes commitment and discipline
  • Save for college – it is not always necessary to save 100% of the costs, but going into the college tuition years with substantial savings (i.e. 529 plan) will allow you and your kids to avoid significant debt
  • Save for your own retirement – systematically contribute to your 401k, 403b or other tax advantaged plan

My client’s story also gave me reason to pause and reflect, or plan, on what might be “next” for our family.  While I am used to dispensing advice for a living and helping others plan an ideal life, I am fortunate to have so many clients and meetings like the above to inspire me to continuously think about and plan for a life well lived.  While my wife Jen and I (we celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary this month) are not quite empty nesters, two of our three children will be full time college students living on their own for most of the year.

Wyman Nest Dwindles

Our oldest Matt will be in his third year at The University of Kansas.  Matt, a soccer player in high school, walked on to the football team and won the starting position last season.  His year was highlighted by kicking a game-winning 52-yard field goal as time expired.  Matt will return to KU in the fall for his second season after interning here at The Center this summer.

Our middle child, Jack, just graduated from Bloomfield Hills High School, the first ever class at the merged high school.  Jack finished a stellar baseball season as his team won their district and he was named team MVP, All League and All District as a pitcher and third baseman.  Jack is undecided on his college choice but has been accepted to Albion College and Belmont University in Nashville.

Our youngest, Kacy, just finished 5th grade and continues to be an inspiration as she manages a rare disease called Cystinosis.  A highlight of Kacy’s year was being to be Principal for the Day at Bloomfield Hills Middle School where extra lunch time and recess was the call of the day! Kacy also enjoys swimming year round with a little dance thrown in for variety.

Words of encouragement from our principal....

"Good morning BHMS! Please excuse this interruption. This is your Principal for the Day, Kacy Wyman. I just wanted to wish you a great day - have fun and work hard!"

Jen and I look forward to our empty nest years and living the “college life” like my clients described.  However, for now, we are mostly excited to be traveling to Kansas and other parts of the country for football and baseball as well as being with friends at Wing Lake beach or Kacy’s swim meets. 

From our family to yours, have a great summer and take pause to plan what’s “next” for you and yours :)

Timothy Wyman, CFP®, JD is the Managing Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. and is a frequent contributor to national media including appearances on Good Morning America Weekend Edition and WDIV Channel 4 News and published articles including Forbes and The Wall Street Journal. A leader in his profession, Tim served on the National Board of Directors for the 28,000 member Financial Planning Association™ (FPA®), trained and mentored hundreds of CFP® practitioners and is a frequent speaker to organizations and businesses on various financial planning topics.

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