Aug 10

Retirement Savings Tips for Empty Nesters

Make retirement savings a priority once your children leave home

By R. Todd Holden, Financial Advisor


After years of raising children and the expense that comes along with this, parents have an opportunity to adjust their financial focus and increase their retirement savings when their children leave home. However, a recent study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College showed that for many, this is not happening. The study found that many empty nesters — who now have fewer expenses related to children — haven’t saved more for retirement. One observation of the study is that these parents work fewer hours, thus earning less, which negatively impacts savings. There may be other reasons why empty nesters miss out on retirement savings, such as:

  • Continuing to financially support children into adulthood
  • Paying for their children’s higher education because they haven’t saved for it
  • Deciding to pay down debt that has accumulated over the years
  • Splurging with any extra money they have instead of adding it to their retirement account

No matter what the situation, the message is that empty nesters — given the typical time horizon until retirement — need to make saving for retirement a priority once their children are on their own. It’s not always easy, but here are some tips to help make it possible:

  • Start encouraging children to seek financial independence and reduce what you pay for them as early as possible once they leave home. Establish time frames for them to pick up certain expenses, such as cell phone bills, gas or dining out.
  • Avoid reducing your income until your children are sufficiently financially independent.
  • Consider downsizing your home to reduce your cost of living and save more. Do you really need the extra space now that your child or children no longer live with you? Or, instead of moving, maybe you now have the space to rent and earn extra income?
  • Reevaluate your life insurance needs. For example, if you have the savings to support your child through college and your spouse or partner now earns enough to cover the household bills, perhaps you no longer need a substantial life insurance policy?
  • Empty nesters over 50 have the opportunity to make catch-up contributions to their retirement savings. Try to do this each year before you retire.
  • If your children are still full-time students, you can reduce taxes by claiming them as dependents on your tax return up to age 24.

There are numerous strategies for empty nesters to build their retirement nest egg before their earning years end. Working with a qualified financial advisor can help you maximize your retirement savings once your children fly the coop. If you need assistance, please contact me at or visit my website at


Yahoo Finance, “Empty Nester? Avoid This Mistake That Retirees Make All The Time,” Lipscomb, Sam, July 18, 2023,, “9 Financial Moves for Empty Nesters,” Axelton, Karen, May 26, 2023,
AAA Living, “4 Financial Opportunities for Empty Nesters,”
This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal.

Todd Holden

Financial Advisor

Todd Holden is a Financial Advisor for Northwest Financial Advisors. Through his affiliation with LPL Financial, the nation’s largest independent broker-dealer,1  Todd provides a comprehensive range of financial and investment planning, including retirement income planning, estate and wealth transfer planning, insurance protection planning and tax-efficient investment management.

Todd has more than 20 years of industry experience, having entered the financial services industry at Merrill Lynch in 1987. From 2009 to 2016, Todd served as the Financial Consultant for Belvoir FCU and Library of Congress FCU, successfully working to meet members’ needs. Other industry experience includes time spent at MetLife and HSBC.

Todd believes that a good financial advisor should always:

  • Listen more than speak
  • Keep things as simple as possible
  • Provide value that exceeds any cost and
  • Be worthy of the trust and confidence his clients have placed in him

Todd received his Bachelor of Science degree in Finance & Economics from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. As the son of a retired Air Force pilot and the spouse of a U.S. diplomat, he has spent much of his life traveling the world. Todd likes to say that he is married to the TSP as it plays a significant role in his family’s retirement plan.

Todd and his wife Kelli have been married since 1989 and have two grown children. They have resided in Falls Church, VA since 2008. When the children were younger, Todd served on their school’s parent advisory committee, helped build sets for theater productions and managed his son’s hockey team. He is a novice sailor and an avid bicyclist.

1 As reported in Financial Planning magazine, June 1996-2020, based on total revenue.
Todd Holden, Financial Advisor

Financial Advisor

Todd Holden

Recent Articles

Nov 16

What Does the SEC Mean to Main Street Investors?

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is a U.S. government oversight organization charged with overseeing and enforcing our nation’s federal securities laws. Founded at the peak of the Great Depression and after the passing of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the agency’s mission consists of three primary objectives:   

  • Protecting Main Street investors who depend upon the nation’s financial markets to help create their financial wellness and future financial security