Nine years ago, my husband and I began planning for our retirement. Some of our plans were a bit far-fetched – those were the fun ones! – and others were more practical. However, the one common theme that seemed to be present in all our discussions was our goal to reduce or erase financial concerns in our golden years. We also knew that we didn’t want to pass on any financial burdens to our kids when we passed. In addition to dealing with our finances while we’re still here, we thought about making our final arrangements so the kids didn’t have to.
I remember the day vividly. We were at a family gathering for one of our grandchildren; Toby had just turned 2. Our daughter and her husband were discussing the rising cost of childcare, which quickly turned into an argument about who was spending more on what. The mood of the event went from playful to solemn in what seemed like an instant.
On the ride home, we talked about how the biggest events in our lives cause such a financial strain when we aren’t prepared for them – a surprise pregnancy, losing a job unexpectedly, emergency home repairs. We decided then and there that we didn’t want to spend our later years worrying about the financial aspects of our lives. We wanted to be able to spend time with our children and grandchildren, without wondering how or whether the bills would get paid on time. So, as a part of our retirement planning, we started thinking about our known expenses and which ones we could prepare for. We were honestly a little surprised when the conversation turned to our end-of-life services.
We started doing some research: the different types of services offered; how much everything cost; local service providers; that sort of thing. We found some helpful information about pre-planning for a funeral or cremation. That led to a conversation about what we wanted when we go. Nick is more traditional; he wants to be buried. Me? I want cremation.
After all that research and conversation, we realized that planning ahead meant that we could rest easier knowing that our wishes were known and would be carried out the way we wanted them to be. We also understood that it would make things considerably easier on our children when the time came, since they wouldn’t have to guess what we wanted on top of dealing with us being gone. Then, it circled back to the money again. By choosing our services ahead of time, and pre-paying over the years, we planned to have our services paid for by the time we retired. Not only would our children not have to wonder about our wishes, but they wouldn’t have to worry about how to pay for them, either. And neither will we. We can get on with all the great things we have planned for our golden years.
We chose a flexible payment plan, which we were easily able to pay off over time. In fact, we just made our final payment last month! Nick and I are planning to retire at the beginning of next year. We plan to do some traveling, some gardening, and some babysitting for our 5 grandchildren. Toby turned 11 this year, and we’re taking him and his younger sister, Mira, to Disney World. When we think back to the day of his second birthday party, we realize we might not be taking this trip if we hadn’t made the right decision back then. Retirement – here we come.
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