While they are not what you might call “wealthy,” Jane and Rob are rich in every sense of the word. Before retiring, Jane was a school teacher, while Rob worked for the local utility company. Today, their lives are centered on managing their health, loving their children, enjoying favorite activities and taking care of Jane’s ailing mother.
They describe themselves as “just plain hard working folks”. They carry with them a profound appreciation for where they are in their life and the bounty they enjoy.
Now in their 70’s, they’ve dealt with health scares, problems with children and a mother who needed full time care. Amidst all that, they have great clarity around their lives. They value the time they spend together, whether just going for a drive, working in their garden or taking in a show at the local dinner theater. As they navigate their lives, they have created a list of their truths:
- Maintain a rational financial life—don’t spend more than you bring in.
- Keep track of spending so you have a handle on where you are—make it a joint exercise.
- Laugh often and don’t take things too seriously.
- Stuff is just stuff. The less of it you have to deal with the better.
- Be good at listening to each other and ask questions when you’re not sure.
- Don’t leave a mess for others to clean up.
Jane and Rob’s message is clear. They have been following their “truths” for many years and have created financial security and a comfortable lifestyle. When they became concerned about what happens “after,” they began to take care of funeral pre-arrangement, met with their estate attorney and then met with their children. The meeting with their kids was to communicate their wishes and leave them each with a folder that contained pertinent information—burial arrangements, lawyer’s name and number, financial advisor’s contact information and other data that would make their job less stressful.
In relating the meeting, Jane was profoundly moved by the reaction of their kids. While they were clearly uncomfortable, they were grateful to be assured that the burden would not be theirs. Rob, in his usual blunt manner, made it abundantly clear that any dissatisfaction with his final wishes would be met with swift and sure disinheritance.
Rob and Jane are not by any means ready to leave this life, but they have the peace of mind knowing that they have done all they can to make the rest of their journey as smooth as possible. They appreciate the tenuous nature of health and life and keep their focus on living each day as fully as possible. They’re planning a series of one-day excursions that will allow Rob to “sleep in his own bed” while still enjoying new and different experiences together. They are considering a trip to Europe, but not until they have researched carefully and thoroughly the costs and the type of travel required. While not up for climbing the Matterhorn, they’re far from needing assistance.
Their life is good—and they plan to keep it that way.