Not one of your clients probably aims to live a pinched and circumscribed existence in retirement, but sometimes life gets in the way. As this month’s Global View makes clear, there are a number of factors that can negatively impact retirement savings.

The good news: knowledge is power. Clients who are well-informed about how their decisions will impact savings can make plans and trade-offs. Here are four common obstacles to a successful retirement:

  1. The role of the rug rats. According to this Bloomberg story by Ben Steverman, kids can put a crimp in your clients’ retirement. From birth to age 18, the estimated tab per child is $233,610 for food, clothing, a larger house and a host of other expenses (and that doesn’t include university costs). Parents, he argues, must respond by honing their budgeting skills.
  1. The 30-something in the basement. The bad news: dependent offspring may live at home a lot longer than expected. Rob Carrick of the Globe and Mail notes that the newest retirement savings challenge is the 30-something who’s still on the parental dole. But Carrick argues this could be just another version of helicopter parenting – he suggests parents need to take their own goals and assets into consideration before ponying up.
  1. The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Diane Harris’s Next Avenue article looks at one of the most common source of anxiety for many people, namely the inability to absorb a financial shock. She makes the case that adverse events such as layoffs and leaky roofs are predictably common, so clients should come up with a plan to manage the unexpected.
  1. A reluctance to spend savings. Gordon Powers’s article in Investment Executive focuses in on the “consumption gap”; basically the difference between what clients could spend and what they do spend. His suggestions for helping clients achieve a more satisfying retirement include reframing their retirement in terms of income flow (rather than savings), and using annuities to provide sustainable cash flow without dipping into the principal.