Is your youngest off to university in a few weeks? Will you soon be facing an empty nest? You might be thrilled – freedom at last! Or maybe you’re feeling down, knowing you’ll miss the noise of a busy family home. Maybe it’s a bit of both – and that’s normal and to be expected. You’ll miss having your kids around, but you’re also looking forward to extra time (and money) for all the things you love to do.

The empty nest is a new chapter that can affect many areas of your life, including your financial affairs. Here’s a look at some empty nesters for a glimpse of decisions that might await you once your children leave home.

Yvette and Nicholas

Yvette and Nicholas, both in their 50s, have three children close in age. The youngest has just left the nest for university. Nicholas is eager to downsize from their suburban home and purchase a lower-cost condo close to their work. While Yvette likes the idea of a shorter commute, she’s concerned that one (or more!) of the children may need to move back home. So they decide to stay in the family home until all the kids have graduated and have jobs.

Two of their kids are attending grad school out of province, and their expenses surpass what’s available in the family’s Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). So Yvette and Nicholas decide to tap into their Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) and non-registered account.

Up until now, the couple has relied on term life insurance to protect the family’s standard of living until the kids can support themselves. Now that all the kids have left home, Yvette and Nicolas will convert that coverage to permanent life. Its tax-free benefit will help offset capital gains tax on their vacation property when it’s inherited by the children.

Adesh and Rekha

Adesh, 62, and Rekha, 60, have permanent life insurance originally purchased to protect the family. This policy will now become an inheritance for their only child, enabling the couple to devote their savings to their retirement. With a son who has just graduated from university, landed his first full-time position and left home, Adesh and Rekha have become empty nesters. Their main concern now is deciding when to retire. Financially, they can retire now and maintain their standard of living, or they can work a few more years and fulfill their retirement dream to purchase winter property in Florida and summer property in Canada. Adesh and Rekha, both in good health, decide to work longer so they can live their retirement dream.


Bonnie is a single-parent empty nester with two kids who are now independent. Back when the kids were young and she was the sole provider, Bonnie purchased significant amounts of term life insurance and critical illness insurance. Now, she is thinking about health care as she gets older. Should she ever require health care assistance at home or long-term care in a facility, she doesn’t want to erode the savings that may be passed on to her kids or to burden them with providing health care for her. So she decides to reassign those insurance premium dollars to a long-term care insurance policy.

Bonnie is also devoting more attention to her retirement savings and plans. And for extra income, she has decided to rent out the basement living quarters.

An empty nest can be full of surprises

These scenarios illustrate just some of the issues that arise when children become independent. Along the way, any number of surprises could occur. A health condition could affect your ability to earn income. Out of the blue, your child might call and ask for financial assistance. Contact your advisor if you ever need help navigating these surprises.