Hi. I'm Mary. I have a Ph.D. in Organization Development and worked as a consultant on education in several countries. Now, I am a Senior and enjoy all the opportunities and challenges that this age brings. I love to travel, write, paint, and create.
Life is a gift of the Universe. Retirement is a time to wake up. Awaken to all the possibilities life brings. Finally, the challenges of raising a family and racing to the top of your career are behind you. Start anew.
How do we do this? Explore your area. Familiarize yourself with all the resources you can find around you. Take a more in-depth look now. Don’t just pass by. By the time you get home, your mind will be full of ideas about how to make your retirement fun.
FUN is the word. Forget all the obligations that tied you down all these years. This time is for you. We live in a time when it is best to grow old. Why am I saying this? We have all the resources to live as fully as we want. If you’re going somewhere, there’s active transport. Uber and Lyft are willing to bring you anywhere. There are discounts for Seniors for the activities you might think of doing, so what’s keeping you from enjoying your retirement?
Ah, many things do this to you. I know it so well because I have experienced them as well. There are countless worries about your health, finances, safety and many more. We can easily list a thousand and one reasons to keep ourselves from having fun.
Time to wake up, to be aware of the things around us. But what is more crucial is to be mindful of our environment and ourselves. With waking up, we are not just talking about fun. Make it fun, but the other result of waking up is a change in awareness.
When before, we were always busy about many things, now is the time to go deeper and inward into ourselves. Now, we have more time to listen to ourselves as there are not a hundred things to do on our list. Sometimes, there is nothing to do.
With the recent lockdown, you had so much time because of the limited social interaction. Many of you were upset that you couldn’t see your families, especially your grandchildren. You miss all of them. But now, it is the best time to go into yourself and become a better person so you can be a gift to your families. Imagine their wonder when they see you – your newly transformed self, the New You.
Waking Up is not a significant activity at all. It will not take too much time. All you need to start is allocate a few minutes every morning upon waking up. Spend a few minutes in silence, listening to your inner self. You will be surprised at what you’ll discover. Look at yourself closely and learn to appreciate it. Maybe you’ll find something you may not like at all. Look at it. Know it better and transform it. Right now, at your age, you already have the resources to deal with anything you’ll find. Your experience managing your life successfully for over 60 years is enough qualification. You are certified by experience to handle any of your discoveries. Embrace all – both the positive and the negative. These are just sides of the whole, opposite sides of our single self.
Seniors, what is that WOW you so desire? This is your chance at living it. Some of us may think this WOW is beyond our means. Maybe it is. But this is the challenge and having one at retirement makes life more exciting.
We are now retired for 20 years the joy of early retirement) and each year is an adventure. Some are fun and easy and smooth sailing. Others are more challenging but all these contribute to what retirement is all about.
Before we retired, we struggled about what we will do. We had options laid out. We were clear about what we did not want but for what we want to do, we had no clue at all.
I can clearly remember the many walks we had on Siesta Key beach in Florida talking endlessly of what we want to do, each of us often left with thoughts on what the implications of these possibilities are.
We were concerned. We were uncertain. We were afraid of what the future held for us. We were afraid of where our dreams would bring us or how the dream of one of us would affect our lives. We hesitated to think as we did not want so many changes to our already happy existence.
But we knew that we could not just sit and watch endless streams of movies on television. We had to explore opportunities out there. We were still too young not to be engaged.
Once we started, we just kept going. We used our experience to start our own consulting and we just did this for 20 years. We cannot even tell you how much we enjoyed it. Until now, we have friends and colleagues all over the world with whom we worked and shared life.
We would take contracts only scheduled for the winter months which we wanted to avoid in Canada. Summer months were reserved for family. Our families lived in different parts of the world so Summer became our special time with each other.
Enough of my own experience. Now, back to you.
What image comes to you when retirement looms in your horizon? The end of fun? A quiet life? A trip somewhere? A life with family? Live your dream?
Most of us think of that day when we can do what we really like. Often, we associate this with retirement. But I tell you honestly, many of us who are now retired sometimes feel that we still are not able to do this.
Yes, we find that our days are spent in countless little errands that by the time the day is over, there is no more time to do what we really like other than stretch out and have that glass of wine. Does this count? Most of our friends will definitely say yes.
Of course, it depends on your own goal.
Many retirees enjoy doing little errands and taking care of grandchildren. Full-time grandmas fill up their time and this is their life.
I know many of my friends do this and they enjoy it. They go with their grandchildren to their swimming practise, piano lessons or bring them to school. it depends on what you enjoy doing.
My husband is not the only one. We just worked with someone who is 73 years old and had already 3 heart attacks. He loves to collect rare ceramics in blue and he works to be able to buy the more expensive ones which may overstretch his retirement pension.
Younger people now work harder and smarter to reach a much younger age to retire and be able to live the lifestyle they want. Others, just declare early retirement and live it NOW.
The style you choose to live your retirement depends on you. Many people now retire early. Once they have achieved their commitment and goals, they’re gone. But many, continue to get engaged. My husband retired when he was 53.
He was one of those lucky ones to have that freedom at such a younger age but he continued working until he passed on at 75. This time, he was doing what he really likes. He was no longer responsible for an organization so the stress was less and he enjoyed what he was doing.
How will you live your retirement?
The quality of your retirement will largely depend on the plan you have laid out not when you’re about to retire but early in your life.
There are retirement concerns you can plan for but there are others you will only discover when you are retired. But planning for the ones you know will help you deal with those concerns that you only find out as you live your retirement.
The good news is you have more wisdom to deal with these challenges so look forward to these as opportunities to expand your life. Having these challenges may still be the best thing that will ever happen to you.
The voyage to retirement is often much better than the reality of arriving and sitting on your duff waiting to turn off the switch!
While the Senior years can be a dream world which most of us eagerly anticipate, their arrival can be a bit of a let-down. I’ll bet you have friends with too much time on their hands, bored, restless, and ultimately less content than they were when dreaming of the vintage years’ sunny beaches.
Hobbies, whether they’re low-key or reach-for-the-stars, are one of the best and most time-honoured ways to “de-retire” or at least ward off the “it’s all over blues”.
In fact, many retirees credit their hobbies with keeping them young…or at least keeping them alive! Look next to you. If your Grumpy is sliding up to retirement with no real activities in the planning bag, act now. An active Grumpy is a joy compared with a gnarled couch spud parked in a broken lawn chair!
One of our friends clearly said that she can listen to her husband talk about his collections for up to 30 minutes but beyond that, she just can’t do it so she wants her husband to volunteer in a museum. There, he can share about his knowledge and people will appreciate it.
We laughed when our friend shared this but we are in the same boat. I used to teasingly ask my husband when we walk in our city streets who would be his next victim. Once he engages the person to a conversation, the person is doomed. Unless, the person is able to extricate himself, it could take a good amount of time.
How to Choose a Hobby
No hobby? No problem – choosing one is exciting, and couldn’t be simpler. Remember back in high school, when a counsellor asked you what you would do for a living if you didn’t have to worry about money? Now’s the time to indulge that passion!
If you find yourself stuck, there are several things you can try. Asking your buddies is a great way to go and watching their activities for ideas. What draws your interest.? What really gets you excited? They may provide answers that surprise you!
Sitting down and letting your mind drift is another great way to choose a hobby. Don’t let Grumpy do this one…he’ll simply doze off! What do you daydream about? Where does your mind go, during the course of a normal day, when you’re not focused on an activity? These can be excellent indicators of the territory where you’ll find a hobby you’ll truly love.
If all else fails, you can try researching hobbies online. You’re not the only one ‘stuck’ trying to find engagement. You’ll find many a wild range of ideas stuck together by desperate oldies that refuse to rust out, including lists of things to try in order to discover a pastime.
These ‘mini’ hobby lists often ask you to try one activity for just a few hours. In most cases, you’ll know right away if a particular activity is something you’ll enjoy. From chess to car repair, knitting to gardening all the way to bird watching (the feathered kind…keep Grumpy glued!)
Revitalizing a Current Hobby
Perhaps you already have a hobby, but your enthusiasm has flagged over the years. If you still feel a basic interest in this particular activity, there are plenty of ways to revitalize that yesteryear hobby and make it feel brand-new! (Ahhh..if only we could do that with our Grumpies!)
Gardening is, perhaps, one of the most popular hobbies for people of all ages. In fact, it’s even becoming trendy! As a result, there are resources out there which you may never have considered. Your area may have a community garden, a place where locals volunteer their time.
A friend of ours who also happens to be our doctore decided to fold up her practice and do gardening. She has never been happier. Everyday, she dances in her fields as she looks forward to the produce she can enjoy. What agreat way to destress your life.
The resulting bounty is usually either enjoyed during communal meals or donated to a local food bank. How about a herb patch on a balcony or a few butterfly magnet flowers close to your door.
If you’d rather garden closer to home, why not try something completely new? Try your hand at heirlooms – these unbelievably delicious and brightly-coloured varieties haven’t changed a bit for (often) over one hundred years! It’s better to grow heirlooms than become one.
Perhaps you’ve always enjoyed fishing on weekends and holidays. Now’s the perfect time to upgrade your equipment, try out an undiscovered fishing spot, or even take a fishing vacation! Experienced guides are available all over the world, whether you’re after walleye or sharks! Listen to an audiobook while dangling your line.
I used to love painting but did not have much time to hone in my skills. Now, I have time and I enjoy learning how to use the different media from watercolours to oils and acrylics. It helps in dealing with boredom and loneliness as well as gives direction to one’s days.
Some of my Senior friends learn new skills like sewing and enjoy creating clothes for themselves. It is only when you try several possibilities that you discover what really makes you feel alive and happy. So, keep trying out new hobbies until you settle on one that really makes your days worth looking forward to.
Some Seniors even earn from their hobbies. I met two Seniors when I visited Quebec City. One is a painter and he has a stall right in the tourist area of Quebec City and he uses his talent to paint people. My friend and I had ourselves painted and we enjoyed the experience so much. I think we also put smiles in the faces of people passing and looking at us.
The other one loves to sing and she sings in a park close to the famous Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City. She even has records of her songs that she sells to those who love listening to her. Not only does she earn, she also makes so many people happy as they stop, sit in one of the benches and sing along with her. Some tourists even dance as they listen to her. What a wonderful way to live one’s Senior years.
Regardless of your current hobby, the same principles can be applied. Do a bit of research and build on an activity you already enjoy. This will give your hobby a new life, and lend some real excitement to your retirement! Grumpy loves birds and spends time whistling in the garden in full communication. Bird feeders…baths…..birdhouses…a whirling inferno of feathered tweeters. Having a hobby is everything!
Thirty-five years of working for “the man” and the feet are going up.
I am outta here! Life plan? No kidding, it’s retirement.
The money is just about enough…the debts are nil…..I’ve done fairly well….. give me my parachute!
Getting to the magic age when we can say goodbye to our 9-5 job and enjoy our freedom is a big golden dream that carries many folks through employment thick and thin. Lawyer, manager, caretaker or caregiver…the vision carries us on.
As we work our hours and pay our retirement and pension plans, we look forward to this like a desert hiker looks forward to a glass of water. Schemes and dreams as we build the means and endless panting blather to whoever will listen.
The plan is solid…..we think, without realizing that we are just focusing on the financial part of retirement and forgetting what we really need is a life plan.
How is retirement like?
Having fun yet?
Are you enjoying your retirement?
The dream is thinning like a New England fog. A massive billboard comes up on the Life Highway with an Uncle Sam like finger-pointing at our forehead saying “YOU ARE BORED”.
OK…something part-time so I don’t have to stare at the dog 24/7. Not so easy.
We can hardly find jobs even at the burger-flipping level because there are so many young ones in line ahead.
Even volunteer jobs are tough to find as students compete to complete their community involvement points required by most schools.
Try to get an extra street to canvass in the annual Stroke and Heart door to door and the granny mafia will attack with umbrellas.
Some have gone online, opened a blog and are doing very well. (Thank goodness for WordPress and its ilk). Others build trains, fly miniature planes, paint and sculpt or just become pests as an unwanted neighbourhood watch peeking out their windows.
Each of us has a different experience. I have friends who are very happy working in their garden, doing crafts, becoming full-time grandparents and washing their cars.
Some have gone online, opened a blog and are doing very well. Others build trains, fly miniature planes, paint and sculpt or just become pests as an unwanted neighbourhood watch peeking out their windows.
Did you have a life plan for retirement? Below are some of the varied answers we get:
Yes, I planned very well my life after retiring from my job
No, I just wanted out, I did not even bother to think about it
I had dreams of things I wanted to do but did not really plan for it
I had ideas but that’s all
Bismarck, the master planner of 65 as the key retirement age didn’t talk much about life planning as he assumed we would all be dead at 67. (He was right in the late 19th century). A lifetime of bad food, dangerous jobs and quixotic health care usually didn’t result in a long leisurely retirement.
The world then was a bad Dickens novel with brutish and short as key descriptors of life. This does not seem to be true now when people are still healthy when they retire and hang on for 2 decades or more before eternity.
The first day…..the first month….maybe the first six months……”man…this is livin'” After a year in retirement, when we have read books till we Kindle Callused and played golf/tennis/tai chi till the image palled.
When you have visited all the places on your bucket list and listened to Bach until your eyes were crossed…. so many retirees, yourself included, realize that the books look blurred, the games are slow motion and the travel budget is competing with the insurance bills. Hmmmmmm.
Ageing with anger is a speciality of Irish poets, American novelists and aahhhhh maybe, Indian pilots. For the rest of us, ageing can be an absolute joy.
If we’re very lucky, a sense of grace falls over us and although enigmatic smiles sometimes betray indigestion or even secret flatulence, they can also suggest that we’ve come to terms with our lives, that we can live with our own histories, that we’re not competitive in our legacies and that the world is not only the place to be but by far the best.
Money could be a part of this but looking at poor villagers in any Asian country, the smile of peace is there, the sense of being a part of a family’s history and its endless future has brought watchful contentment.
Here are a few key reasons that ageing can be a blessing:
1. We enjoy life
Laughing at our own and others foibles leads to curious glances from others but it can really make an average day a good one.
My friend recently told me that sometimes while doing something very ordinary as cleaning her house, she stops and enjoys the fact that she feels really happy. We seldom felt this before if we ever did. We were so busy with living that we did not have time to pause and just feel our joy.
But now, we do have the time to savour whatever we feel and better still, whatever it is we are feeling, they no longer threaten us. Lfe has taught us that nothing really stays. The next moment, it’s going to be different. Everything turns for the good.
2. We celebrate what we have
We have climbed the mountains, we poked around in a few of the depths. and we can now relax and stop wrestling with missed promises.
We have nothing to prove. We’ve gone beyond that. If you still are trying to outdo your friends. you have not grown. By this time, your friends know you very well and accept you as you are, so, relax and accept yourself and enjoy life by just being you.
Some in our circle of Seniors have not yet reached this moment of self acceptance. They still try to prove they are somebody so they get stressed at little things which do not support their image of themselves. They do everything to prove that they are better than anyone else and pressure their kids to enhance their image. But because we really can’t control circumstances and people like our kids, we get frustrated and eventually depressed.
With depression comes poor health and sickness. It’s our way of manipulating people and events. Our Senior years must not be like this. It must be enjoyed and lived joyfully. Let the cares and concerns of our earlier lives go and embrace what is, enjoy it and cherish whatever you have.
Nothing like the breath of life felt every morning could compare to all these concerns. Enjoy every day. Remember, we have limited supply of these so enjoy every moment.
3. We accept our shortcomings
In our 40s and 50s, mirrors are a tragedy. As we age, and gently become self caricatures not just physically but emotionally, our weaknesses fit in nicely to the thing we’ve become.
No longer do we have shortcomings. We realize that shortcomings are part of life and will always be there. We know this from experience so we are now able to laugh when we look at them. We can’t deny the aching body, the stooping posture, the wrinkled face, the constant reminder of arthritis, the blurred vision. We do something about them but we don’t let these stop us from enjoying our lives.
Yes, what we have become is what we celebrate in our Senior years. When we look at ourselves, each one of us, there are so many things we can celebrate in our last 60, 70, 80 or 90 years of life. Just the fact that we have reached this age alive, we should be happy. This, alone, is reason to celebrate.
4. We have clearer priorities mainly because we don’t have so many of them.
We have time and space to focus on what is really important whether that’s learning or family or sports nostalgia or the craziness of politics. we can pick our spots. Besides, age has made us realize that only few things really matter. The many things we pursued when we were younger no longer have the same intensity in our Senior years.
5. We accept our grumpiness and go and hide when we feel it coming on.
The random savaging of children, grandchildren and trim adherents are at last controlled.
Age has taught us that most things can be managed. Also, we have less stress so very few things worry us. We have reached an age when we know we can no longer do much so we let go.
6. We embrace everything that we are
More searching for who we really are? We’ve stopped that. We have accepted who we are, knowing it or not.
I remember the angst of younger years when we were driven by getting to know what careers fit us, what will I do with my life, how can I make myself better, what job will really be fun for me and many more. Now, I laugh at the fact that at my age, I still don’t really know myself and will never fully know as it reveals more each time I think I have a handle to what I really am.
7. Most importantly, we can sit back and reflect on our lives and the age we’ve lived through.
Even if our own story is not filled with drama, the headlines and achievements and tragedies of the world that have been our companion can consume hours of review and end with some tentative conclusions or insights that if we’re really careful, we can sell to the young as wisdom.
So, ageing is not the only thing we have ahead of us. It may also be the best time of life.
Eat clean. We hear this all the time. We all know we should eat right, and today, that often means choosing organic foods instead of commercially grown, pesticide-laden options.
However, for those living on a fixed income, the high costs of organic foods can become an obstacle. Only though if you let high cost stop you. There are other ways you can enjoy organic food without making a dent in your budget. Try these:
1. Seasonal Shopping 2. The “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” 3. Frozen Options 4. Understanding Eggs 5. Wild-Caught and Grass-Fed 6. Understanding GMOs 7. Organic Vegetable Garden
The best way, of course, is to plant your own vegetables. Even urban dwellers are now trying their best to do this.
There are balconies and rooftops for those who have no outside plots. Start small and build it. Window sills will do. When we stayed in serviced apartments working in Asia, I often filled our sills with pots laden with herbs which I can easily snip and add to smoothies and dishes.
Now, in our condo here in downtown Toronto, I still plant herbs and greens I can snip to add to smoothies or salads. If it is important, we do find ways of making it happen. 1. Seasonal Shopping Shopping according to the seasons is a great way to not only obtain organically grown produce at lower prices but to add a greater variety of produce to your diet.
Certain produce is locally available only at specific times during the year. However, thanks to commercial farming and preservation methods like canning and freezing, we have access to virtually any vegetable or fruit throughout the year. This is great for convenience, and there’s nothing wrong with quality canned or frozen produce.
Shopping according to the seasons, however, allows you to obtain the highest nutrient value for the least amount of money.
Often, this has to do with how far they are transported and how thin their skins are. Clean 15, on the other hand, is a list of foods which, although organic is always best, can usually be regarded as ‘safe’ in terms of pesticide levels.
Fresh produce is nearly always higher in vitamins, minerals and bio-nutrients than canned or frozen varieties. By purchasing these items – either from a farmers’ market or the organic section of your supermarket – you’ll be getting more nutritional bang for your buck. 2. The “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” These easy-to-remember guidelines refer to specific foods. The Dirty Dozen consists of foods which, for a variety of reasons, are usually loaded with pesticides.
With a list in hand, you can make more informed decisions at the supermarket. Spend a bit more on the Dirty Dozen by purchasing organically while choosing traditional Clean 15 options.
3. Frozen Options As freezing methods improve, more produce options are available in the freezer case.
These options are superior to canned produce in terms of nutrient density, and many organic varieties are available.
Look for flash-frozen whenever possible; this method preserves the highest levels of nutrients.
4. Understanding Eggs Eggs are an excellent source of protein, but the type of eggs you buy is important.
Commercially raised eggs are typically loaded with antibiotics, due to the filthy, cramped living conditions of chickens. As a result, these eggs may contain things you don’t’ want in your own body.
The term ‘free-range’ is a step up, but, thanks to loopholes in the guidelines which regulate farming, these chickens are also living in dirty, cramped areas – the only difference is they have a small outdoor pen.
To obtain the most responsible, healthiest eggs, choose ‘pastured.’ This term indicates that the chickens which produced the eggs are allowed to roam freely and feed on a wide – and natural – variety of insects and grains. As a result, they require fewer (or no) antibiotics, and their eggs are believed to be higher in nutrients.
5. Wild-Caught and Grass-Fed You may have seen these labels on fish and meat selections. Although labelling regulations aren’t as strict as they might be, these are generally good indications that the product was caught or raised responsibly.
In general, wild-caught and grass-fed options are considered to be safer, due to their lower (or nonexistent) antibiotic levels. They are also typically higher in nutrients.
Remember to always look for labels which specifically state “USDA Organic,” “Antibiotic Free” and “Pesticide Free.” You may see all three on the same product, although “USDA Organic” indicates that no antibiotics or pesticides were used in production. This includes the grass and feed livestock are raised on, and even the soil in which that grass and feed were grown.
While these options typically cost more, switching to a diet with more vegetables and less protein can help to offset the costs.
6. Understanding GMOs You may have seen GMO-Free on food labels recently – this is due to a consumer backlash regarding the use of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). These hybrid plants are believed by many to present risks to humans, simply because they are not natural and may encourage a host of unhealthy side effects such as tumour growth and excess estrogen production.
Purchasing GMO-Free options, whenever possible, is a great way to safeguard against the largely unknown potential effects of consuming GMOs.
7. An Organic Vegetable Garden Nothing can beat your own organic vegetable garden. This will supply you the best produce to eat. The produce will also be very fresh so not only will they be delicious but also much more healthy.
Gardening will also make you more active contributing to your overall health. The joy you derive from watching your plants grow and giving you fruits make it all worthwhile. Start now.
617 million are 65 or older. This data was first published in 2015 so the numbers have gone up. This is projected to increase to 1.6 billion by 2050, about 17% of the world’s population (An Ageing World, National Institute on Aging).
Because there are so many Seniors now, interest in what engages them and what interesting topics catch their attention have gone up. We Seniors should be happy and get engage with these interesting discussions.
This significant development on Seniors bring with it joys, wisdom, opportunities and plenty of challenges as the body starts its decline and the mind wanders off to memory lane.
There are many opportunities as well. I don’t think I can think of any other periods in history most comfortable for Seniors to be in. To go out, we have our own driver, Uber or Lyft. Any good we want to buy can be delivered straight to our doors. We have all kinds of researches on Seniors being done and medical professionals and caregivers to take care of our health.
This is the most significant area this site will highlight so Seniors can be on top of these recent development and understand its implications and applications to their own lives.
Not many of us lived healthier lives as we got into the challenges of our times so we now experience the results of that. We can’t hide them. The lines and contours show them well. Thus, this site.
Seniors Futures is a site conceived to dig deeper into the developments Seniors grapple with. From Finance, to Travel, to Grandparenting, to Health, to Style, Seniors face many new developments that can overwhelm them.
This site helps to make sense of all these developments and discuss some of these more thoroughly in more understandable ways.
I am Mary Norton and I have a Ph.D. in Organizational Development. I have seen in my work how many Seniors are now leaving the workplace. Lost after the structured life in the workplace, many walk around listlessly hoping someone would engage them.
Before, the engagement was there with the job, they had somewhere to go and something to do. Now, some find meaningful ways to respond to the new reality. Others, get lost and are unable to make sense of this new context.
As I am a Senior now, I get more interested in what my friends and colleagues share about ageing and growing old. Moreover, I go through these developments myself and like many of my Senior friends, we laugh at it many times as we share many of our Senior moments. At the same time, we worry about what the future holds. We get upset at things we don’t understand or find hard to understand.
In addition to the new reality, new technologies come and leave us unable to use many of its features. Just read the news on how predators on the Net prey on older people. It is upsetting.
The younger ones find these developments fun and make their lives easy but for us, Seniors, just finding our way to using many of these new technologies take several sessions with grandchildren.
So, to respond to this worry, we discuss these matters, read on these and seek confirmation in our own experience. This is what we want to share with you in this site.
This is not a scholarly site nor does it contain expert medical advice. No, the posts here are just the sharing of Seniors of what they go through. We hope that you will get involved more actively by making comments or sharing your own experience in the matters discussed in some of the posts.
It is our hope that we can build a community of Seniors willing to share and contribute to the discussion. You are invited to share and be part of our community. Your experience will be valuable to building a knowledge bank for Seniors.
Retired or not yet, this is one thing you and I need to think about. It becomes even more concerning when we advance in years. Often, people pass on and nobody in the family knows anything about their assets. Think now and start doing something. It is time.
I still remember being a Grade 4 student and helping my sickly father think through investment strategies.
My job and wow, was I ever proud, was to do the math as he sorted out the cost implications of assorted investment options. I am not tall even as an adult, but I was at least 2 meters tall there as my sisters sat by while Papa and I were working.
Maybe that’s why this particular incident has stayed so clearly etched in my mind. I never imagined then that I would end up earning money through investment myself and that it could be fun rather than struggling with bad health and searching for family rescue.
But a few years ago when I discovered the Market, I pulled back quickly what my father had asked me to find solutions for, what costs to check out, how he compared the various investments such as real estate, investing in small companies, expanding our business, loaning money out and other choices.
Years later, a close friend of mine whose family really amassed wealth shared with me how on weekends, her father would put the whole family in the car and just keep driving through the small towns and villages.
When he saw land that he liked, he tracked down the owner and gave him an offer. The family had a great time with picnics and swimming around the Province and their parents had a ball looking for real estate they wanted to invest in.
Although they pursued various careers, their mother always insisted they take real estate investing courses. And even though I was not a member of their family, my friend’s sharing opened my eyes wide enough that when my husband and I had some extra money, off we went scouring the villages well outside of the cities that could become cottage sites for wealthy boomers when they cashed in.
Although we had day trips in some far-out areas, we were led back closer to home. You’ll never know what you’ll find when you search. This is the fun of the search and until now, we still have this riverfront property which we share with the bears who forage the wild berries and the beaver who savage the small trees but build great dams.
We bring the grandchildren here (they scare off the bears) and we hope they get a sense of how actively we pursue investing. They ask questions and they start getting into conversations about land and cost, appreciation and markets.
Last year, one University grandson brought a friend to stay with us and they, in desperation to start a conversation that didn’t include questions from us on beer consumption or ahhhhhh University life, started asking questions about things we had done to support the life we are currently revelling in.
We tried our best to tell the story with its peaks and valleys and tiny bits of real knowledge. A month later, while sitting outside watching Seadoos, sailboats and floating docks trying to share the same space simultaneously, the grandson, as an opener so his search for beer would be less blatant, came to inform me that the same friend had just bought BP shares. YES BP, the one company with more disasters and thus, more to prove than a 20-year-old male.
I was happy that somehow he had learned to start investing early and to think about potential and risk and the impact of ego on the market. They will have successes and failures, gains and profits, but they have learned early to create wealth.
Our grandson now has a job and has invested in Boeing. It is his choice and we encourage it. The earlier they learn how to choose stocks on their own, the better it is. They have more than enough information online to make a go of it. And if they fail, it is a lesson well learned.
Don’t Force It
We only talk about investing when they ask, although they hear us chatting with each other. And they see us hunker in our computer bunker to track our stocks’ performance or see us scour the papers on our Kindles for news we can use. Tsunami in Japan? Hmmmmm. What does that mean for insurance stock? Will they rebuild with wood and if so, from where? Will the Atomic Reactor problems affect future plans for more reactors and so the demand for uranium? A great detective game and really engaging.
Sometimes, kids browse through books you leave around in your living area. When you stick it to them, chances are they’ll set these aside but just have a few lying around. A page or two once in a while will make them think a bit.
Ways of Involving your Family in Investment Decisions
Depending on you and your family relationships, there are many ways of involving your family in investment decisions:
1. Do your investing as a family team. They look and watch and even if they seem disinterested, believe me, they are if you can make it fun.
2. Bring them to your bank or your real estate transactions. They will learn some points even if they don’t talk about it and they’ll learn about good manners in discussions and respect and even a bit about negotiating.
3. Ask them relevant questions. Engage them on discussion on what their friends are buying and what young people go for these days and invest in one of these companies and track this with them.
Gain or loss, the important thing is the lesson, but choose well as gains are always great incentives. Toys for the youngest (Mattel, Disney, Hasbro) and maybe fashion or electronics as they grow up a bit.
Ask them to help you do some investment tasks like research and find out how a new product is doing in the market. They have a keener insight into choices made by their peers than you have (New soft drinks, franchise restaurants with new lines, Playbooks and Android). Recognize their help. This will boost their confidence or make them learn a lesson they can use when they invest their own money.
4. When they show readiness, give them the knowledge necessary as well as the opportunities to build their skills. There are many transactions kids have to learn to manage their own money but often parents are so protective that they deprive them of learning what will help them eventually live their own lives.
Money is an instrument. When they need money, they will learn how to go about certain financial transactions. We have to trust their judgment without crushing them. Maybe a debit card to start. We need to give them space as they learn how to think through money.
5. Show them how to manage money. To do this, some of our grandchildren are given their monthly allowance by their parents, placed in their bank account and they have their debit card to use whenever they need the money. They don’t have to come and ask, but they can’t spend more than is in the account. They know they have this amount for the month. With phones top-up cards only. Their spending habits immediately become more considered and a bit of quick math with a squinted left eye goes on before each purchase, and phone calls get seriously short.
When it first started, the eldest blew his allowance immediately on an expensive t-shirt with mysterious iconography understood only by sophomores. A rough penurious month followed, but the lesson was learned (sort of) and careful management (sort of) is now the norm. At least, no monthly bankruptcies.
The second grandson (we call him Silas) keeps his money and holds on to it right to the end of the month to meet targets such as upgrading his drums or buying some Alice Cooper endorsed nail polish.
6. Gift them stocks on special occasions. They can choose what stocks to buy. You can discuss with them what guidelines to follow or ask them to use what they’ve learned if you followed earlier points and taught them a bit.
They can research on their own online as there is a truckload of information on every investment instrument out there. Once they own the stock, you can track its performance with them and explain market fluctuations and how to manage that. Greed and Fear!
7. Encourage discipline. They will learn in the process. The eldest always ask not to give him too much money. He knows himself. So, your intervention would be to give enough, but maybe match savings at the end of the month. It is good to know their spending habits early so you can nudge a bit or intervene and manage the process. Maybe residence the first year at College so at least they get food if all else fails!
You need to be disciplined yourself so you don’t give in to the same feckless requests you used 40 or 50 years ago.
There are many ways you can involve the family in your investment decisions. Celebrate when you gain so there is a strong incentive for them to be part of the process. Laugh and show what happened when you blow it. It will make you seem more human!
But above all, know that each child or grandchild is unique and thus, will have different interests. Encourage those who are interested but don’t force those who are not. They follow a different drummer. Not everyone has to be a savvy investor.