Sharing My Retirement Plans with My Dad

Sharing Retirement Plans with my Dad

Hello $wanigans! What’s going on today? Last Friday I shared a “killer guest post” with J Money at Budgets Are Sexy. Below is a snippet of the post about sharing my retirement plans with my Dad, but please click over to his site to read the full post (and the comments are great too…!).

I have something personal to share with you all – an email from my Dad. And not just any old email… a special one, in which I’ve never received anything of the like before. My Dad was wanting to know more about my plans to retire early!

To say I was nervous when I saw his email would be an understatement…

While my Dad doesn’t know I have a blog (and neither do any other friends or family), he does know I do not want to work for the rest of my life. He knows I’ve accumulated a fair amount of wealth so far, although not the exact amount. And he knows my goal is to get out of the rat race early.
I have explicitly told him this before, but that’s the extent of it.

Until earlier in January… At that point, Pandora’s Box was opened. And it started with this email. (By way of reference, my dad is currently 63 and plans to retire in 2018)

My Dad’s Email

Hi JW,

I always do a financial review at year end and it got me thinking about you wanting to retire early.  I can relate, I was always planning to retire at 50.  A few things to think about (you probably have already considered these, but anyway):

– I don’t think anything greater than a 7% long term return on your investments is realistic.  You don’t have to go back too many years where a huge double digit loss was happening

– College education keeps increasing.

– Health insurance is really scary in the future.  I’m planning $10,000/yr/person until medicare.  You want to make sure you have a good ins. plan.  Who knows how much this will increase.  But $20,000/yr for 20 years is $400,000.

– If you ever do decide you want or need to re-enter the work force, it’s really hard to re-enter at the salary you were making before.

When I got to my early 50s I realized:

– I would be really bored.

– I still needed a purpose in life

– By working a few more years, mom and I could have this house and possibly a second home if we wanted.

– It was also a good feeling knowing that we could retire whenever we wanted.

Anyway, a few thoughts I wanted to share.  I’d love to help you reach your financial goals if there is anything I can help with.

Have a good day,


What a nice note, huh!? Needless to say, he hit on basically all the major concerns any early retiree should think about. At the time of reading this, I didn’t realize that he ever considered early retirement. I always knew that him and Mom did a good job managing their money and were financial responsible folks, but they did have to raise four boys and paid for half of each of our college costs (in-state public school tuition).

I thought about how best to respond and decided it would be best to get some thoughts on paper, send them to him via email and follow up with a phone call. Below is my unedited response to my Dad:


Click over to Budgets Are Sexy to read the rest!


Thanks for taking a look!

The Green Swan





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  • Was a really good one, man. Thanks again for sharing it with my audience 🙂

  • Really liked this one. Very cool to see the real world conversation with your dad on this topic. Thanks again for sharing this

  • Thanks for sharing the emails – I liked reading both of them. I had a similar conversation with my Dad a few years before I early retired (@49). He retired at 60, only because he couldn’t do so earlier due to the way his company’s retirement programs were structured.

    One thing I noticed is that you said your child’s college will be “fully funded” @ $70K in a few years. Having just sent a son to college this past fall, I would suggest you double check that number (depending on how much you are planning to help). I think we will spend 1.5x to 2.ox that amount, despite some pretty healthy scholarship money.

    • JW

      Good for you and glad it sounds like your conversation was constructive as well!

      Good question on the cost of college. I certainly expect costs to be much higher for our three year old, but having $70k invested in a 529 plan to eliminate tax considerations and 100% in the stock market to maximize growth, I’d expect that lump sum to compound significantly. I go through some more details here:

      Thanks for the great comment!

  • Killer is right, that was great!

    • JW


  • Nice one… A discussion with the parents…
    My mom knows the high level plan, I never have disclosed further numbers with her. Right now, I do not feel the need to do so, as I plan to keep working after FI

    • JW

      Ahh I see. Good that you’re open with her. Thanks for sharing ATL.

  • That’s awesome, JW! Thanks for sharing!

    Wish my parents were a little more financially educated and supportive like yours!

    — Jim

    • JW

      Is always nice to get a fresh new perspective! Thanks Jim.

  • Great discussion! I’m glad he was well-thought out in his response and wasn’t upset or even criticizing your decisions.

    4 kids AND still feeling financially comfortable in his early 50’s…sounds like your dad is a FIRE role model! 🙂

    • JW

      Yeah it turned out to be a great conversation!

      Haha good point, Matt, he did well!

      Thanks for the comment.

  • SMM

    Wow! You’re really lucky; your dad seems like a great role model with lots of wisdom.I took sometimes think if and when I retire after a while I’d get really bored. Traveling and all, but I think for me it would get old. I’d probably develop a schedule with lots of variety in it.

    • JW

      Agreed, SMM, he’s been a great role model in so many ways!

      Thanks for the comment!

  • Thanks for sharing this email! I think it’s really cool that you’re discussing finances with your dad. Not many people does that as parents and their children just have different mindsets.

    When I got to my early 50s I realized:

    – I would be really bored.
    – I still needed a purpose in life

    I think the above is a concern many people who have when they are approaching retirement.

    • JW

      I think there are great lessons to be learned for folks growing up to have such open conversations on finance with parents. I was lucky to have financially savvy parents to learn from. And I hope to pass on many lessons I’ve learned to my kids to continue the knowledge share.

      Thanks for the comment, TW!