"As you get older three things happen. The first is your memory goes, and I can't remember the other two," Sir Norman Wisdom
Reunions are not normally my cup of tea. I'm too busy with the here and now.
But recently I found myself with some college friends. We visited and laughed and reminisced. And a couple of things occurred to me afterward.
One, the most boring thing we can do is tell everybody about our ailments and problems. Most Boomers have plenty of both. Two, I was stunned at how people change over time. One of the most amazing things about life is not how little people change, but how much they actually do. And lastly of course, I marveled at the fact that everyone looked older but me. Hah!
Oh. One more thing that I noticed. Nearing Social Security age has leveled the playing field. By this I mean that when we were young adults, it was all about who made the biggest salary or whose house contained the most square feet. Now, it's almost like we're kids again. We accept each other for what we are (and are not) and we try to be helpful and decent, because we know we need acceptance (and sometimes help as well) ourselves. I found the gathering much more congenial and much less competitive than it would have been 20 years ago, and this was indeed pleasant.
If you're a Boomer, you are likely to know this Bette Davis adage by heart: "Old age is no place for sissies." So much of what we are forced to face as we age is of a negative nature: aches and pains; losing a loved one; a decline in mental acuity; and loss of our physical vitality. We all deal with difficult challenges or know someone who does.
That said, because we know our sunrises are limited, there is beauty in each one. If we're smart, we're not so judgmental anymore. Food tastes better. Sunshine is warm and intoxicating. A day on the water is magical and breathtaking. Time spent with family is precious.
The carry over to finance is that we are usually more careful shepherding our resources as we age. Most of us no longer spend frivolously. It’s important to us that we allocate our resources wisely. We tend to be more judicious and intelligent and sometimes even more generous with our money. Assisting a grandchild with the purchase of a car or providing help with college tuition can bring immense satisfaction. If we've planned and invested wisely, we can give occasionally of our money and our time.
Investing for the long term throughout our working career takes sacrifices, but can sometimes allow us a wonderful financial flexibility in retirement.
Margaret R. McDowell, ChFC, AIF, author of the syndicated economic column “Arbor Outlook,” is the founder of Arbor Wealth Management, LLC, (850-608-6121 — www.arborwealth.net), a “fee-only” registered investment advisory firm located near Sandestin.