Seniors delay retirement, use savings to benefit grandchildren: Study

63% of seniors report that saving for someone else’s education impacts retirement plans

A new survey conducted by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) shows that 66% of baby boomers between the ages of 58 and 76 have had their retirement savings goals impacted by their desire to save and assist grandchildren with going to college.

About 66% of baby boomer respondents also reported that they are actively saving in order to help fund their grandchildren’s college education. More than half of all respondents (58%) between the ages of 25 and 80 — who are of working age or retired — reported that they have delayed retirement moderately or significantly due to these financial goals.

In addition, 41% of retirement and college savers have used funds previously earmarked for retirement to pay for a relative’s college education, knowingly incurring tax penalty risks for early withdrawals.

“The challenge of prioritizing different savings goals, including college for family members, has led to families making difficult choices, such as delaying retirement plans,” said R. Dale Hall, managing director of research at the SOA Research Institute. “This consumer survey helps identify the underlying challenges individuals and couples face in balancing multiple financial goals, such as funding college education, providing for unexpected financial needs and planning for a secure retirement.”

Respondents also reported saving to assist other family and/or friends with their financial goals in addition to juggling their own financial interests. Other savings goals respondents are working toward include an emergency fund (92%), travel (87%) or the purchase of a home (68%).

“The survey finds that two-thirds (63%) of respondents have had their ability to save for another’s college education impacted by having to save for retirement at the same time,” the results state. “As a result, 40% of all respondents will or have had to take out loans and 16% will or have had to borrow from family or friends to help pay for someone else’s college. Furthermore, 39% of all respondents work longer hours and 26% have taken on additional jobs in response to the dual saving goals.”

The survey was conducted with 1,000 U.S.-based respondents, working or retired, who regularly save for retirement and are currently saving at least $500 a year for a relative’s and/or friend’s college education.

“Results were weighted to be nationally representative of those regularly saving for retirement and someone else’s college education (by age/gender, region, race and ethnicity),” the study results state. “The survey was fielded June 6–14, 2023.”

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