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The hidden cost of retirement planning may be the empty nest

Retirement planning is on the minds of many baby boomers, particularly as they adjust to their lives as empty-nesters. Kids have flown the coop completely, which means that they will require less financial assistance from Mom and Dad.

The problem is that this can sometimes be a tricky thing to get used to - a study conducted by Boston College's Center for Retirement Research found that spending per person on non-durable consumables, such as vacations and apparel, actually rises when children leave. Boomers are treating themselves, but that ends up hurting their overall retirement plans.

Research shows that households with children spent around $5,100 per person for these goods in 2001. When the children had largely moved out by 2007, the spending had actually increased to $6,500.

"Instead of taking the money that they used to spend on their kids and using it toward their retirement, they're not changing their household spending and, in fact, are increasing their per-capita spending," Norma Coe, an associate research director at the center and co-author of the study, told DailyFinance.com.

Not only that, adult children can also account for hidden expenses - whether that you're paying for the groceries at their new apartment, sending them a little stipend each month, or still subscribed to extra TV channels - think Nickelodeon - that no one in the house watches anymore.

Jon Govin, vice president with Summit Wealth Associates in Minnesota, explained to the website that many Americans get in the habit of tossing bills into a drawer and simply paying them each month, rather than reviewing them. This can lead to a lot of unnecessary expenses. 

The trick is to evaluate bills each month and be careful about where all of your money is going. Financial planner Tom Orecchi recommends dropping adult children from healthcare plans and eliminating memberships and subscriptions that are no longer useful.

Findings from The Metlife Mature Market Institute show that grandkids may also be a hidden cost - for the past five years, American grandparents have been giving the equivalent of $370 billion to grandchildren. This indicates that it's time to come together as a family to discuss what is and isn't feasible.

Director of The Metlife Mature Market Institute Sandra Timmerman told The Minneapolis Star Tribune that prospective retirees should focus on their retirement planning instead of just spending money on adult children and grandchildren, because the costs could come back to "bite the family eventually."  

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