The past year was defined by incomprehensible loss—and for many, the losses were personal. In May, my father-in-law Bernie passed away on his 94th birthday. In the end, he said he was ready to go, but we are mourning the loss of an attentive and engaged family man who was like a second father to me.
In the midst of our grieving, I was thankful that we had done some planning ahead of time for this moment. With this recent experience in mind, here are some steps you can take to prepare in advance for inevitable end-of-life transitions.
If you’re working with a financial planner, chances are you’re the kind of person who has also prepared for the possibility of an earthquake, hurricane, or wildfires. But have you prepared for potential civil unrest around the election? “What? No, that could never happen here!” you might be thinking. Well, it’s not something I’d ever worried about before either, but hear me out.
Most of us have experienced important disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of publication, more than 128,000 Americans have died from the illness, leaving entire communities in mourning. Shut-downs and quarantine orders have devastated the economies of entire cities. Nearly everyone—even the most privileged—have had to make major changes to their daily lives.
With the pandemic still in full force, a national response to the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Americans who lost their lives to institutionalized racial violence has swept across the nation and even the world. The tumultuous events of spring have created one disruption after another. Although disruption can be painful, endings create space for change.
Sufficient savings, diligent budgeting, and smart financial planning are of course crucial for a comfortable retirement. Adequate income and assets are essential for the basics— food, shelter, and healthcare—and to maintain one’s lifestyle. However, money is by no means the only important consideration in retirement.
During a recent conversation with a retired couple we serve, they shared how their community organizes an abundance of volunteer activities that offer opportunities to facilitate community engagement and encourage cooperative solutions to shared social barriers. Their enthusiasm illuminates the qualitative concerns that are central to resilient investing and highly desirable for what we might call “resilient retirement”: engaged communities, adaptability, and prioritization of the common good.
Before she started working with me Hope had spent many years trying to build her wealth like a butterfly. She was flitting from one money guru to the next. Reading their books, following them online, and changing course as she found the next lovely “blossom” (investment approach, idea, stock) that caught her eye. Trying to build wealth on our own can often lead to this butterfly approach, fueled by fear that we’re doing the wrong thing (especially when the market takes a deep dive), and ever seeking new ways to make the most of this money are investing.
Hope is a smart businesswoman. She wanted to be smart about building her wealth, too. We are now working together using a honeybee approach to building her wealth—and getting her to her ultimate goal, financial freedom.
Watch a butterfly. It flutters from blossom to blossom in what seems lovely but a bit random. The butterfly is primarily there to drink the liquid nectar; the pollination they do is by accident. While butterflies are eye-catching with their beauty—and important pollinators—their focus and their purpose are very different from the behavior of the honeybee.
Now watch a honeybee.