12 Retirement Planning Tips for Child-Free Couples

Discover the strategies child-free couples use to supercharge their retirement savings.

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Updated June 6, 2024
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According to a 2021 Pew Research survey, 44% of Americans between 18 and 49 say they don’t want to have children.

However, this decision could affect their retirement plans since many older people rely on their children to help them out. 

If you don't have children, you need to ask yourself, who will help you day to day if you need assistance? Will you need to move to a retirement community? Will you need long-term care? 

Here are some retirement planning moves you should make now if you don’t have kids.

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Factor in long-term care

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Long-term care can be even more important if you don’t have a child you can live with or who can help you as you get older.

Consider options for long-term care and think about when you may want to move to assisted living or the circumstances of moving to assisted living. Planning for these issues now can make it easier to make decisions later.

Consider aging in place

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Do you want to stay in your home for the rest of your life? Aging in place comes with its own issues, including modifying your home for safety and finding home health care if you need help.

You also may want to think about downsizing now or getting a ranch-style home that makes it easier to live on one floor so you can age in place more easily.

Don’t forget about your own parents

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You may not have children looking out for you, but you may still have parents who you have to care for.

Factor in any costs associated with caring for your parents, who are also getting older. Depending on how old your parents are, you may have to factor in their health issues as you age during retirement.

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Make sure you have a will

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A will is an important document for anyone to have in place, particularly if you don’t have kids who would automatically inherit your estate.

Decide who will be the executor of your will to fulfill your wishes. It’s also good to be clear about where you want your assets to be distributed and who will handle any other estate issues.

Set up an emergency fund

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An emergency fund is important under any circumstances, particularly if you’re older and don’t have children.

You may want to designate your emergency fund for additional care that you may have to be responsible for beyond Medicare or your supplemental insurance.

Talk about your plans with someone you trust

WavebreakmediaMicro/Adobe Senior couple strategizing their investment plans.

You need an executor of your estate and someone who will know how to handle your life if you can no longer handle issues yourself.

You can discuss your short-term and long-term plans with a niece or nephew, sister or brother, or a friend you trust. You can also choose an unrelated party, like an attorney.

Consider talking to a professional, such as a financial planner or attorney, to help you set up important documents (for example, power of attorney, advance medical directive, trust) before you need them.

Make your health intentions clear

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You may want to talk to an estate planning attorney to draw up a living will or health care directives.

Childless couples may be unable to advocate for each other or have a child to advocate for them, so it’s good to make your intentions clear if you can’t speak for yourself during a medical emergency.

Budget more for retirement plans

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Children can be expensive, and not having kids may mean you have more disposable income during your working life. Hopefully, you have invested more in retirement savings.

When you retire, you may have more money to travel, buy a winter home in a warm climate, or volunteer your time to a good cause. If you’ve been a good saver, you may be able to retire early.

Think about donations

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You may want to consider setting up a foundation or making regular donations to your favorite charities if you have funds that a child won’t inherit.

Spend your retirement volunteering for different organizations or decide where you would like to donate money as part of your retirement plans. 

If you want to support an organization after you die, consider leaving a portion of your estate to that school or charitable group.

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Remember the small things

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Some parents rely on their children for small things like trips to the grocery stores or rides to doctor appointments.

So remember to factor in the cost of those small things. You may want to add an item to your retirement budget for tasks like grocery delivery or home repairs.

You should also figure in the cost of a ride-sharing service. Better yet, find out if there’s a community ride-share to help you get around when you are no longer driving. Your church may also have volunteers who can help you.

Consult a financial advisor

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Are you worried there are still things you may not have considered when it comes to retiring without kids?

It’s a good idea to seek a financial advisor and review your plans. They may identify issues you haven’t considered and help you adjust your portfolio to ensure your savings last for your lifetime.

Plan your funeral

Syda Productions/Adobe woman with lily flowers and coffin at funeral

A gift anyone can give to their family is to make their wishes for a funeral and burial known. As a child-free retiree, you should consider planning your funeral. You may also want to set aside money to pay for it.

Decide how you want your body disposed of, if you want a viewing, if you want donations instead of flowers, and where those donations will go. You may even want to write your obituary.

While many may think this is a morbid task, it is something you can do now that will free your heirs to grieve for you instead of worrying that the funeral decisions they make are what you want.

Bottom line

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If you don’t have children, there are retirement issues you have to consider that your friends and family with children may not have to worry about.

There are positive aspects, like retiring with $500,000 in savings. But you may have to adjust your budget to account for extra expenses. 

For example, adult children may help their parents stay in their homes longer, while you may need to pay for a retirement community.

It’s also important to ensure you have designated someone who will look out for your interests, has access to your finances, and carries out your wishes when you pass on.

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Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.