Throwing Yourself for a Loop

Sometimes life’s big milestones arrive in a neat, straight line. And sometimes that’s just not what happens—or what we want to happen. How do we plan for a swoopy life?

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Old Guys, New Chapters?

photo shows the sun rising over a lake in Louisville, Nebraska

Friends, I’ve been struck by the number of widowers in my circle—and saddened by the number who have joined this club recently. Although we learn early that mortality is universal, we each travel quite personal, individual journeys through these transitions.

I’m noticing, however, that there are things that seem to come up often as I talk with those of you who are in this spot. I may be more aware of them because of my own experiences in the two years since Cathy’s passing. Let me talk through some of these issues.

A change in goals. We may embrace major life goals as a part of a couple that suddenly do not fit our new status. One person shared with me that what had been the couple’s “forever home” was not a good fit for a single retiree; renting a small place made more sense for this individual.

Another person told me their big retirement idea—to move to a warmer place where the spouse had connections—was not going to work anymore.

In my case, the dream home we bought to make Cathy’s last years better did not make sense for me anymore (although it took me more than a year to realize this). My overall vision was changing.

A change in spending. As a result of these changing goals and plans, often household spending decreases. The survivor requires less in the way of financial resources, so legacy issues may become more prominent: assets from one chapter turn into a surplus in the next. Some of you have elected to help adult children with major purchases that made their lives better; others clarified the details of their legacy planning.

A change in retirement plans. Our status can affect our vision for retirement, too. Retirement dates might change for some. One client shared his plan to sell his home and retire early, live in a motor home, and do more traveling. Another told me he was going to ‘’unretire” and go back to work for a while. He said the days were not easy to get through without more to do.

To each their own, of course. Those of us in new—sometimes unexpected—chapters face changes and challenges. It often takes time to sort out which next steps make sense. Please know I’m here for whatever conversations or perspectives might be helpful. We know life is filled with joy and pain. I can handle connecting with your story even as you are navigating painful transitions.

Please email me or call if you would like to talk.

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The “Stuff” of Wealth

photo shows clothing hanging and a table full of glassware and kitchen goods for sale at a yard sale

Spring cleaning has given way to garage sale season in many communities. What a thrill for the senses! Whole rooms, stages of life, and past eras get arranged outside for our neighbors to consider.

I myself lean more minimalist, in general. Less stuff means less to manage. But having moved a few times in a few years, I’m thinking more about our relationship to the stuff our lives—and what it might highlight about our wealth more generally.

Maybe you’ve read about or seen the Netflix show from Marie Kondo: she’s a Japanese “tidying expert.” In her method, people have to confront their relationship with things they keep.

Does each item spark something in you? Does each item have a home?

The spark is typically joy or energy, but it could be a basic appreciation. (I wouldn’t say my toilet brush “sparks joy,” but hey, I’m glad enough I own one for when I need it!)

There are no formulas about what fraction of your wealth you devote to the stuff of your life, from furnishings and clothes to gadgets and books and fine art and gardening tools and… whatever it might be. You might, however, think about whether there’s a fit between what you have and the life you’re living. Does anything feel like it doesn’t fit? Do you get the sense something’s missing?

Our stuff is not the most important part of our financial planning, but it can certainly be part of it. As you look around at the things of your life, we hope that you see them as a reflection of and tool toward your goals—as part of a happier, healthier, and more sustainable financial future.

Think of it from the other direction: if you’ve got stuff around that’s not really part of your life, you’re paying for it to live rent-free with you! (How’s that for crystalizing the financial cost of keeping stuff around?)

Clients, no judgments from us: when you’re ready to talk about how we can help realign your money with your life, write or call.

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