15 Money Mistakes to Avoid If You Are an Empty Nester

6 min read
Empty Nester

Once your chicks have flown the coop, you may find you have more time and resources to invest in yourself again. Depending on your particular situation, you may begin to feel like a kid in a candy shop. You may find yourself contemplating how to spend funds that previously went to the kiddos. If so, take a moment to consider these financial mistakes you will want to avoid

15. Immediately Changing Spending Habits

Spending Habits

You may feel giddy at the thought of no more ballet lessons, designer basketball shoes, or college tuition fees draining your budget. However, it is crucial to avoid the phenomenon dubbed “empty nest spending,” which can end up eating away at your retirement funds. It only seems fair to indulge in a few designer shoes yourself and to check out a trendy restaurant you’ve been wanting to try. However, avoid making changes to your budget that will deplete the nest egg you need for your future.

14. Neglecting to Trim Your Grocery Bill

Grocery Bill

If you have been cooking for a crowd, it may be difficult to break that habit. Overspending on food can result in money down the drain or on the compost heap. Continue to make healthy, nutritious selections at the grocery store. However, avoid overbuying items that will go bad or expire before you can use them. Get in the habit of freezing extra portions of entrees for quick and easy meals later on.

13. Failing to Invest Wisely

Invest Wisely

Once your children have left home and you have a little more leeway with your budget, it is more critical than ever to invest your money wisely. As your retirement years inch ever closer, you will want to have funds available to enjoy those years. Kiplinger offers several tips for empty nesters looking to invest in their futures. First, take a look at your retirement portfolio. Second, increase your contributions to your retirement accounts. Third, simplify and consolidate your accounts. According to Kiplinger, you may want to consider having just one 401(k), one traditional IRA, and one Roth IRA at retirement.

12. Following Bad Financial Advice

Bad Financial Advice

The empty nest years are not the time to get caught up in get-rich-quick schemes or to follow the advice of your cousin’s best friend. If you haven’t yet done so, consider employing a financial advisor to help you plan for retirement. Nerd Wallet lists three options for choosing a financial advisor. You can select a traditional, in-person advisor; an online advisor; or a robo-advisor. A robo-advisor is a digital platform that uses algorithms to advise you and invest your money.

11. Forgetting to Update Financial Documents

Update Financial Documents

As your children head out on their own, take a look at your financial documents to make sure they are up to date. If your will concentrates on guardians for your small children, it is time to give them an update. As your children marry and have children of their own, you may want to keep your will updated to include these new family members. Make sure you have in place a power of attorney to handle your financial affairs if you become unable to do so. Furthermore, you may want to consider making out a living will.

10. Neglecting to Make Your Will Accessible


It is crucial to have a will in place to distribute your possessions according to your wishes in the event of your death. However, your will won’t do any good if your loved ones are unaware of its existence or where to find it. Again, it is critical to designate a power of attorney to handle your affairs when you become unable to handle them yourself. Make sure this person is aware of your will and knows how to access it.

9. Hoarding Too Many Possessions

Many Possessions

Once your children are out of the house, set aside time to go through your belongings and rid yourself of excess baggage. Decluttering can relieve you of the burden of caring for excess possessions and free up not only your home but your mind as well. Pass on to your children the treasures of their youth. Donate clothing and items you no longer use so that others may enjoy them. Toss out worn or broken items and recycle old magazines and newspapers. This will make an easier transition if you decide to downsize your home.

8. Holding Vacant or Unused Property

Unused Property

If you have been hanging on to a little-used vacation home or empty lot, now is the time to decide if you will be making use of this property. You may decide you are ready to make this spot your retirement home. Otherwise, if you are shelling out money for property taxes on a vacant space, it may be wiser to sell now and invest your profits.

7. Lending Money You Can’t Afford to Lose

Lending Money

With the financial burdens of child-rearing behind you, friends and family may start hitting you up for a loan. If so, take care never to lend money you can’t afford to lose. If you have ever watched an episode of Judge Judy, then you already know lending money to friends and relatives can end badly. If you have the surplus funds to do so, then you may want to call it a loan but consider it a gift.

6. Overindulging Your Grown Children

Grown Children

Sometimes the family hitting you up for a loan are your own children. This can be tough. You love your children, yet once they are adults, they need to learn to manage their own finances wisely. Sometimes the best gift you can give your children is the ability to take responsibility for their own lives.

5. Making Impulse Buys

Impulse Buys

Watch out for those impulse buys that can erode your savings. It may be tempting to occasionally blow your budget on a shiny toy or trinket. However, it is wise to consider the effect it will have on your retirement nest egg. When something catches your eye, take the time to research that item and carefully consider the effect on your bank balance.

4. Neglecting to Budget for Your Future

Budget For Your Future

If you have lived on a strict budget through your child-rearing years, you may be tempted to throw caution to the wind and relax with your finances. However, this may be an even more critical time to carefully budget and plan for your future. Take the time to reevaluate your spending plan. Include paying off debt, increasing investments in your retirement fund, and setting aside money for health needs. Of course, your budget should also include funds for treats and entertainment so you can enjoy these special years.

3. Neglecting to Check Up on Your Retirement Account

Retirement Account

If you are 50 or older, you can increase the amounts you invest in your 401(k) and IRA plans. According to the IRS, these catch-up contributions may be up to $6,000 in 2019. Take time to evaluate your retirement accounts once your kids are on their own and consider investing more money for your future.

2. Overlooking the Need to Update Your Home

Update Your Home

Whether or not you are ready to downsize or relocate, now may be the time to make needed updates to your home. If you have been in your home for many years, the comfortable space that you enjoy may not appeal to new buyers. Consider making changes that will increase the value of your home. You may not be quite ready to move on, yet making these changes now ensures that you get to enjoy the updates as well.

1. Overspending on Those Updates


It is crucial to make sure your home is updated in order to get the maximum value when it comes time to sell. However, overspending on those renovations can backfire. When considering renovations, talk with realtors in your area to get a feel for the value of your home. A realtor who is familiar with your area can advise you on which updates would be the most financially savvy to make.