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Learn Surprising Factors Retirement Calculators Don’t Include

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

Retirement calculators are helpful because they show you what to expect as you near retirement and how to prepare. Do these calculations show all the factors that go into retirement? Not quite, because life is complicated, right?


That’s why it is good to consider life events that may sneak up on you later in life when you think everything will be smooth sailing. Retirement calculators are great for visualizing rates of return and withdrawal options. But they ignore things that can’t be quantified to the nearest decimal point.

Retirement Calculator of Support

Did you know 64% of people over 70 years old are financially supporting others (HSBC survey)? The flipside of that is many older Americans are expecting help when they retire. About one-third of working-age people expect their children will support them at some point in their retirement.


The reality is a punch to their gut though because only 3 percent actually do receive financial support from their children. Not because these adult children are uncaring menaces to senior society. With so many of them living paycheck to paycheck, they simply are not in a position to help older parents financially.

Most online retirement calculators include questions such as:

● Age you plan to retire

● Anticipated Social Security benefits

● Value of current investments

Notice what’s not calculated? The odds your adult son will face bankruptcy and ask for a loan from Bank of Dad. Or your 85-year-old mom needs round-the-clock care.

Teach Children Well Before Retirement

As for adult children, the old saying is true. Give a man a fish and he eats for a day but teach him how to fish and he eats for a lifetime. Teach a child about hard work and managing money and he’ll provide his own meals for a lifetime.

It’s all too easy for older generations - no matter what age range - to say younger people aren’t as tough or they lack work ethic. But we have to look at this on an individual basis. If a kid has no idea about car insurance costs, gas prices, or savings. Then who is to blame? Some blame falls on us, the parents who paid their way for too long perhaps.


The point is that we all have to look in the mirror and either teach our kids about work ethic and saving money now. Or complain later when they don’t work consistently or are reckless with money. Young people are willing to learn. We have to be willing to teach.

Teachable Money Moments

The best lessons to help children learn the value of providing for themselves? Pointing out harsh truths when the opportunity arises. For example, if they get the idea that being a free spirit, aka unemployable, like Uncle Mike, then that’s a problem.

A way to handle that is to explain to them how Uncle Mike is able to float from job to job. Because he has family and friends with a spare room for him due to the fact that they do work 40+ hours a week. Without those people having steady jobs and a financial plan, Mike would not be able to be so flippant with his time and money.

Retirement Calculator and Financial Literacy

For our retirement calculations to work out, these lessons must be taught. And school systems are not designed to create financially literate children. If they are, then it’s not working. Because one study reported 4 out of 5 youths failed a financial literacy quiz. Money math has to begin at home.


The best way to teach young kids to handle money is to make it fun and goal-oriented. Bribes can work too! There are board games available that bring families together for game night and offer a ton of money lessons. For example:

Ice Cream Empire teaches about running a business.

PayDay teaches about paychecks and the dangers of debt.

Net Worth explains assets and liabilities, without boring the youngsters.

I’m the Boss offers lessons on negotiation - a terrific financial skill.

Stockpile is all about investing.

Bring on Responsibility

As for real-world learning. Kids need to have money in order to learn how to manage it. And just handing them allowance without any chores involved may not be the best lesson. Young children actually enjoy having responsibility. Research from a 75-year Harvard study found that children who were given chores became more independent adults.


Let that sink in. In-de-pen-dent! That is a great character trait to avoid becoming one of those statistics mentioned earlier. An independent “dependent” is less likely to ask you to support them when you are entering retirement.

Retirement Calculator for Aging Parents

Another calculation missed by online financial calculators? Donating your time to helping your mother and father. While some people help their elderly parents financially, others provide personal care:

● Assistance with daily tasks

● Medical assistance

● Living arrangements

If you’re lucky enough to have your parents see their 80th birthday and beyond, they may eventually need some help. Driving parents to doctor appointments can turn into a weekly task. We all become more high-maintenance medically as we age, right?

And no retirement calculator can predict what will happen if your parents need 24-hour care or even assistance 8 hours a day. You could find yourself moving in with your parents to help them with basic needs. Or moving them in with you and your spouse.

This scenario plays out due to medical needs. But sometimes to lower housing costs for the parents. It can be a real money-saver for them, but a challenge with more than one family under one roof.

Empowering Yourself

So, what can you do based on the odds that you may have to support an extra human or two when you are retired? You can simply do your best. Keep investing, saving, learning. Empower yourself so that you can not only take care of yourself and your partner but also offer assistance to your parents or grown children.

Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. If you build your wealth consistently, you’ll be able to pay for weekly golf with your 84-year-old mom or dad. And also able to provide help when they can no longer take part in those activities.


Same thing with your adult children. Plan and save for amazing trips with them and the grandkids when you retire. While also being financially capable of assisting them where appropriate.

Investment advice offered through Private Advisor Group, LLC, a registered investment advisor.

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