Dear Helaine: I am 30, married, and my husband and I jointly have $127,000 in investments. We both fund our 401(k)s to take advantage of the corporate match, and I am able to fully fund a Roth IRA as well. We have no debt besides our mortgage and student loans.
Trying to have children has been a challenge. My husband worked a second job to avoid going into debt for fertility treatments. I carried and birthed two babies, knowing they wouldn’t come home from the hospital due to diagnoses “incompatible with life.” Our third child is healthy and the light of our lives.
We got pregnant again, only to discover my life was in danger. Ending the pregnancy via emergency surgery was the only option. My husband and I agree we want more children, but we’re taking our time figuring out if that means more fertility treatments, adoption or surrogacy.
We had $20,000 in savings, but we depleted it by half to do projects on our house as a form of therapy. I’m debating stopping my Roth IRA contributions this year to purchase some items I’ve always wanted. The logical side of my brain says the contributions will be worth more in the long run. My grieving heart reminds me that nobody’s future is guaranteed, so why not enjoy life while I can. What do you advise? -- To Stop or Not to Stop
Dear Stop: You are an extraordinary woman. You’ve gone through three pregnancies, two of which ended in tragedy. At the same time, you and your husband are such nose-to-the-grindstone, diligent people, you managed to not only avoid debt while paying for expensive fertility treatments, you’ve bought a home and managed to set aside more than $100,000 in retirement accounts.
And now you are asking me if you can let go a bit, that the future is not a sure thing and why not enjoy the moment? There is no question about my guidance: I am officially giving you permission to temporarily stop your Roth IRA contributions as you mourn for those lost children and what could have been, as well as for the time it takes you and your husband to decide how to best move forward with your lives. It’s most important that you take care of yourself in the here and now.
If you are feeling a bit of guilt, take some of the money you aren’t putting in a retirement account and put it aside for your child’s future college education in a 529 college savings plan instead.
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