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Midlife Parents Face a Double Whammy
CNBC.com | September 26, 2011 | 09:41 AM EDT

How 40- or 50-somethings with young kids prepare financially for retirement and for a college price tag that can reach well into the six figures depends on each family’s circumstances, and may mean working longer or cutting expenses. Financial advisors tend to agree that parents should make retirement savings the higher priority.

“Always, for me, the retirement comes first,” says Lindsay, director of financial planning at Covington, La.-based Personal Financial Advisors , who had her first child at 39 and has several clients in their 40s or 50s with young children.

Students can get college scholarships and loans, while retirees don’t have those options for funding their golden years, planners note. Also, well-set parents can tap or borrow against retirement accounts to help pay for college.

“The kindest thing a parent can do for their child is fund their own retirement and let the child pay for their own education,” says certified financial planner (CFP) Rick Kahler, president of Kahler Financial Group in Rapid City. A child would spend two to five times more caring for an elderly parent who didn’t plan for retirement than they would for their own college education, he says.

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