If you suddenly had a surplus of income, what would you do with it?
This is the question that parents have to ask themselves when their kids leave the nest.
As our children graduate from being dependents to being productive, independent members of society, the money that was once being spent to support them has to go somewhere else.
And without any direction, there’s a risk that the money will just go out the door. We’re exploring what to do with extra income when you find yourself with an empty nest.
While raising a family, you can get used to giving allowances to kids, high utility bills, monstrous grocery bills, or paying for ever-increasing educational costs.
Most of this goes away once your children become independent. Suddenly, you have an excess in your budget!
And if you do the math for financial freedom, you might be closer to retirement than you think.
Not only do your finances change but so does your lifestyle. From having to drive your children around, attend ceremonies and games, and going to family-friendly places, you suddenly have a ton of free time.
Having a lot of free time and extra money is a great thing if you keep positive and use those extra resources productively.
This is a time to celebrate your kids’ independence. Always remember that them leaving the nest doesn’t mean that they’ve left your life. It just means they’ve started building theirs. Continue building your own life with the extra resources that you now have.
Use your extra money and time to grow your income and yourself to prepare for the bright future ahead. The extra money and time can be used to expand your income even more and accelerate your retirement timeline.
The first thing you should do is eliminate any existing debt that’s dragging you down. Pay down your mortgage, your car, and especially any consumer debt. Make sure to avoid getting into additional debt as this can have a long-lasting negative effect through compounding.
Invest that extra money and make it work for you. Since you have extra time, you can either be an active investor and analyze the market, or you can go the passive route and opt for index funds and alternatives such as REITs.
If you’re the entrepreneurial type or have always fancied working for yourself, now is the perfect time to try your hand at being a business owner.
Running your own business can take a lot of time and money, which you just happen to have in excess right now!
In order to master a skill, you need to put the time in. Practice makes perfect and, with a much more relaxed schedule, you now have the time to learn a new language, play the piano, become a DIY expert, or have the best garden in your neighborhood.
We are so often strangers in our own town. Now is the chance to get to know your community better. Connect with other people of similar interests and those that are probably trying to learn that new skill you just took up.
This is also a chance to take a more active role in improving your community by joining clean up drives, support groups, charity activities, and spearheading educational or after-school programs.
Of course, don’t forget to travel. It’s the cliche thing to do but traveling is still essential to personal growth today.
Expand your horizons and learn from other cultures and people.
You no longer have an excuse to eat fast food or whatever your picky teenagers wanted.
It’s time to start focusing on your health. Make sure you start eating healthier food and add physical exertion in with the extra activities you’ll be picking up.
The secret to long-lasting happiness is giving. Now is your chance to feel the thrill of helping others on a more consistent and personal basis.
You can help eliminate poverty, fight diseases, improve the environment, or any other cause you deem worthy. When you donate you are helping your chosen organization make a bigger impact in the world.
Not only are you helping others by donating, but this is also a chance to lower your taxes through deductions.
Other than giving money, you can also give time by doing volunteer work. You can focus your efforts by donating to and volunteering for the same organization, or select a few organizations that are close to your heart.
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
If you can’t find a charity that interests you or isn’t an exact match, why not start your own?
This can take a lot of your time and it’s not exactly the easiest choice for your retirement life. But since you’ll be focusing on something you care about and making your mark in the world, it can be the most gratifying.
Nothing is more valuable than knowledge and experience. The additional free time might be a great opportunity to teach others what you’ve learned in your life journey.
Teaching is a beneficial activity in a few ways:
“There is nothing permanent except change” ― Heraclitus
Life is change. When kids leave the nest, it opens the door to new possibilities with the extra time and money you now have. As they start on the next phase of their life journey, it’s time for you to plan yours.