Saving for retirement is never easy, especially when you have competing demands on your money. When those demands come from your children, it's even harder.
Small wonder, then, that 49 percent of Americans in a recent poll commissioned by RBC Wealth Management said they put more emphasis on saving for their children's education than on building up a nest egg for their own future.
"Everybody kind of defaults to the most immediate need, but you have to plan your way through that these days," said John Taft, CEO of RBC Wealth Management in the U.S. "You can't just roll into retirement — you'll never get there."
But funding kids' education is far from the worst thing people do instead of saving for retirement. A November study by T. Rowe Price found that 62 percent of parents say they spent more for their kids than they should have over the holidays, and 7 percent, including those who say they have not overspent, have tapped retirement savings to cover holiday costs.
Within those tapping retirement savings, 6 percent self identified as savers, said Stuart Ritter, senior financial planner and vice president at T. Rowe Price.
"I was really surprised," he said. "People should be thinking more broadly than just the holiday season."