Parents: Don't miss the 'Crucial Decade' for saving

Of course, the earlier you start saving the better. However, I believe that some periods of life are better suited for saving than are others. The Crucial Decade it is not based on your age, but the age of your children (if you don’t have children, you are probably better rested than I am and this blog post probably won’t mean much to you).

A 2007 report by the US Department of Agriculture claims that the amount of money it takes to raise a child from birth to age 17 doesn’t fluctuate much per year. They estimate that families earning between $45,800 and $77,100 annually will spend $11,000 to $12,000 per year until age 17 for a total of $204,060. I am sure this type of information plays an important role in determining child support and foster care payments. However, as a practical family budgeter, I don’t believe that a child's 13th year is as costly as his or her 3rd.

As all parents know, babies are expensive. Medical bills, childcare costs, time off work and baby supplies all add up. This is especially true if one spouse decides to leave their job to care for the children. Older children are also costly. Cars, college, and weddings are some of the larger ticket items you can look forward to. And this is assuming they don’t move back in with you!

Fortunately, I have discovered that there is a period of time between where the childcare costs end and the college tuition begins (even the costs of sports playing, electronic loving tweens can’t compete with those big ticket items). This is your big chance! According to the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, parents of school-age children pay up to $8,600 a year for part-time care. When this ends or at least diminishes, start saving the amount you were paying in childcare into a savings account to prepare for retirement or the tuition that is looming on the horizon.

Don’t let this Crucial Decade pass you by or you’ll find yourself playing catch-up in your golden years.


Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.