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What Comes First – Funding Retirement or My Kids’ College?

Rachel Cruze

Money Management for Parents

Q: What comes first—funding retirement or my kids’ college?

Rachel: In our Baby Steps, we list investing for retirement (Baby Step 4) BEFORE saving for college (Baby Step 5).

Now you’re probably thinking, I’m not going to put my future before my kid’s future! But here’s the deal: Retirement is going to happen whether you like it or not. Let’s face it—you’re eventually going to get old and not want to work anymore. That’s coming for sure.

After that, with any extra, you can save for your kid’s college fund. If you don’t get to that point and you can’t do it, it’s okay. You’re not a bad parent if that’s your situation. Don’t beat yourself up.

College isn’t an entitlement or a God-given right. And, honestly, your child has a million different ways of paying for college—like working, scholarships, grants, and the list goes on. They have multiple options when it comes to college.

You have one option when it comes to retirement, so take care of that first before you focus on a college fund.


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Rachel Cruze

Growing up as Dave Ramsey's kid, Rachel Cruze learned the basic principles of money at an early age. She travels across the country teaching those same principles, in a personal and passionate message of money and hope, to teens and young adults. To find out more about Rachel, visit or follow her on Twitter at @RachelCruze.