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Saving for retirement? Don't have kids

Shadows of mother with children.

TEXT OF COMMENTARY

Tess Vigeland: The president's deficit commission released its report this week. Among the recommendations: raise the retirement age for Social Security benefits. Of course some lucky folks can retire even earlier. Maybe they saved more aggressively or have a pension that kicks in before they turn 65.

But commentator Sydney Lagier found a different path to early retirement.


Sydney Lagier: Like many little girls, I dreamed of growing up to be an actress. I grew up to be an accountant. Like many grown-ups, I dreamed of retiring early. I did do that, three years ago at the age of 44.

If you share the dream of early retirement, you're going to have to save more money more quickly than someone who retires at 65. Of course you'll need to max out on your 401(k) contributions, and make sure you get that employer match. There's a lot of other advice out there on how to save even more money: give up your cable TV, stop dining out, and forego that daily latte. Sure, that'll save a few bucks, and those few bucks will add up over the years. But if you really want to supercharge your retirement savings, think big. Don't have kids.

Not convinced? Think about this. The cost of raising and educating the requisite 2.3 kids here in the San Francisco Bay Area would have set me back nearly a million dollars. That's a lot of lattes. I would have had to forego more than 270,000 lattes to generate that Grande pile of cash. I know, the Bay Area is not the cheapest place to raise kids, but no matter where you live it's going to cost a small fortune.

And these figures only include the actual costs, like feeding and educating the kids. They don't include the hit to household income when one parent decides to give up a career to be home with the kids. Nor do they include what's known as "the motherhood premium," the drop in salary experienced by university-educated women after having a child. If, like a lot of my friends, you send your kids to private school, the price tag soars even higher.

Yes, if you decide to give up the joys of parenthood for a life of leisure, you won't have those kids to rely on when you're old and decrepit. But that's not even the worst part. If you choose this path, prepare yourself now. Because while you may be happy with this decision, most everyone else will try and convince that you shouldn't be.

Vigeland: Sydney Lagier writes a blog called Retirement: A Full-Time Job. Post your thoughts on our Facebook page.

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D Jessop, your "no-child" tax is beyond ludicrous. Those of us with few, or no children pay a lot to allow your child tax deductions/teachers/school buildings/soccer fields/libraries/etc.

Yes, I agree with her. I also think that to speed up the process, you can eat nothing but Ramen noodles and water for 40 years. Also, maybe never date anybody because during a special occasion you might have to spend money on a gift.

The point of your commentary seems to be that there should be a tax for services rendered by your children. The implication is that your child has not been paid for providing those services i.e. curing my cancer or providing my physical therapy. My family paid someones' child for cancer treatment and was taxed for cancer treatment for our mother.

Your argument seems to go like this: Your children are your contribution to an overall better society. Since we don't have children a tax on the childless would be the "equalizer."

Here is my counter proposal. Each of your children will provide their services throughout their working lives. They will not receive compensation.

However your children are a part of a contribution to an overall better society so the government will provide a guarantee against economic hardship The state of Utah will determine their financial compensation. The state can subsidize them throughout their careers. They will have guaranteed comfortable retirements waiting for them.

Yes you are going to need to refund those child tax deductions that you've been taking for having all those children.

D. Lieb

D Jessop, that is one of the most ridiculous notions I have ever heard - I believe that all adults in the U.S. are required to pay our fair share of taxes whether or not we actually "use" that service. We all have a vested interest in having an educated population, so we pay for things like schools, research, land-grant universities through our taxes whether or not we have kids. Who do you propose "taxing" - people who don't have kids under 18, like the elderly? People who delay parenthood until later in life? Couples who adopt - or people who have a child but give that child up for adoption? Having 5 kids of your own is certainly a choice, and being middle-class is more than many in this country can say.

It makes sense that putting a good portion of your earnings into an IRA/savings plan as early in your life as possible, and continuing that for 20+ years, will boost your retirement funds quite a bit. Many families and individuals have children in their mid-20s and spend a large portion of their incomes on those children. It's not usually possible to save 1/3 of your take-home pay when you've got a couple of kids unless you are very well off to begin with.

However, your value to society is more about what you do with the time you've got than whether you have kids! Many retirees have a huge amount of time to invest in volunteering, many parents raise great kids and strengthen their communities too.

As a stay-at-home mom of five kids, I have sacrificed a lot! We are a squarely middle class, small home/two car/two (small) TVs/still paying off our own student loans family. We don't vacation, we don't go to Disneyland, we invest our time and resources to educate our kids. May I suggest a "No-Kid" tax for those who enjoy the services/products that my children provide to them? When you visit my daughter, the physical therapist, you pay an extra tax that comes back to me. When my son, the cancer researcher finds a cure for your cancer, you pay an extra tax. When my son, the garbage collector, picks up your trash and recyclables, you pay an extra tax. When my daughter, the airline pilot, flies you to your next vacation spot, you pay a tax, etc. Enjoy your early retirement and the lattes but pay the rest of us for sacrificing and raising children so that you can maintain your lifestyle.

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