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Retiree says that an "economic shock" in retirement is clear: It's his kids



Since millennial mistakes make it harder to get on their feet after college than the generations before them, it is no surprise that the parents who retired did not exactly plan to support them for so long.

Dirk Cotton resigned from a job as engineer and executive director at AOL in 2005 at 52 and lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Since retiring, he has spent his time researching and writing about retirement funding and blogging about it on his website, The Retirement Cafe.

When asked about the expenses he did not expect in retirement, he named two: his health care system and his children.

He says that while his biggest surprise spending on retirement has been the sky-high costs of health care, his other big expense came after his kids left college. "The other big financial shock is that your kids today never leave home," says Cotton. "We still had adult children to help."

Cotton says that after college it wasn't easy for his kids. "They had the same problems that many people get, to get their career going," Cotton says. "They would come back from time to time when they were between things."

Plus he had to lead them through college basically.

"My wife and I had our children later than most," he says. "We had gone out of college for about 1

3 years." So after he retired, he continued: "After retirement, I was also met with putting three kids through college." One of his children decided to pursue a master's degree and attend medical school, which increased his education costs.

Cotton is hardly alone in helping its adult children.

Parents support their children much longer these days. Living at home with parents is now more common than living alone or with a roommate or partner among young adults, according to data from the Pew Research Center. Couples like with people who choose to have children later in life, and that is beginning to mean that it is a reality for many to put children through college while living on retirement funds.

But now two of Cotton's three children are married and living alone. "I don't think any of them will come back," he says. "My middle son has visited for a long time a couple of times, but now it's mostly us."


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