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It's not easy being Gran

Updated on July 8, 2016

Reaching the age of seventy feels like a milestone. You survived adolescence, the drive of the early adulthood years, the disappointments of middle age. The tendency is to continue as you have in the sixty-years decade, but reality is starting to sink in. You have lost some friends and a lot of family. The family concentration is on grandchildren and/or great-grandchildren. Your children are entrenched in raising their own families. Friends developed and kept over the years are dispersed all across the country. Life expectancy is a crap shoot – you could drop at any moment, or you could make it another twenty years. And after 80, those years could very well be mired in dementia. This is a great time to make a serious shift in your lifestyle.

There are some really good advantages of old age, as long as you don’t feel old. Term life insurance is a bet – that you’ll die before the term is up. Well, at this point, with term life being normally 20 years, you have the odds in your favor. No need for expensive whole life, since you don’t have enough time for it to grow to a viable size.

You can finally stop collecting recipes. Let’s face it, you already saved 400 of them that you never even tried. For that matter, you can finally stop collecting everything. Time to go through those stamps, coins and bills, organize them, then either cash them in or pass them on to another generation. You have so few visitors by this time, there is no more need to display a bunch of collections no one else has interest in – they are often just dust collectors. It’s a good time to contact those you want to leave things to and ask them what they would like to inherit. You will be surprised at how little they want, and what odd things have sentimental value to them. Save a great deal of family wars by sending what you can to the inheritors now; this only relates to small things which wouldn’t come under the ‘gifts’ act anyway.

You can now take a good look at your memorabilia. Among the photo albums I inherited from my mother were albums of greeting cards she received and saved. After a single look through to relive some memories, it’s apparent that these cards have no value to younger generations – or even to me. Time to discard them. There’s a lot of stuff that is of value only to you – homemade gifts from the kids and so on. A great time to pack up the memorabilia for each child and send it to them, so they can enjoy the memories while they are not burdened with your death to handle.

What about your car? If it is in good condition, will it last 20 years? Knowing you are now living on a fixed income, if you are going to take on a car loan, do it now. If you don’t want to take on that burden, keep the car care up; what seem like expenses for maintenance and prevention will save you a headache in the future. Instead of dumping money on insurance, keep it at a minimum; tuck the money you would have spent on extended coverage into an emergency fund; at least that way you will be getting interest on the money until you need it.

Speaking of emergency funds, do you have a nest egg? This is a good time to keep $10,000 in the Emergency Fund; split the rest up and bestow it on the people you want to inherit it. If your children are comfortable and not in need, consider setting up college funds for your grandchildren instead – these college funds are usually tax-free both in donations and withdrawals. And no matter how diligent your children have been to save for your grandchildren’s education, there will never be enough. Grandparental accounts are not included in the finance reports a prospective college student has to make, and even if it’s a very modest amount, anything will help.

Gotta face the fact – you will no longer consider starting a new career. You have no interest in getting trained or educated in anything new. But you can start a new life. Earnestly write up a bucket list. Start with crazy stuff and end with little things. Don’t be afraid to add to it as time goes on.

Now that you have a wish list, don’t let it collect dust. Look at the things you spend your time doing, and find ways to end some of the chores or change them. You no longer have little children running around; vacuum only once a week. Unless you have company coming over, don’t make the bed; instead, pull the covers down to the foot and let the bed air out; this discourages bed mites. If you don’t have a garage, hose down the car to get rid of dust and pollen; in the winter, hose down the undercarriage if you live where they salt the roads. Any way you can find to loosen up some time, do it.

Then work on the bucket list. If you dream of travel, but can’t afford a cruise to Bahama, start with car trips to friends and relatives you like. Take advantage of the sights along the way; don’t be afraid to pull over and see the largest rubber band ball in the world, or explore caverns. Don’t lock yourself into a timeline – tell whomever you are visiting approximately when you expect to get there, then pull out that fancy smart phone when you are about five hours away and alert them of your arrival.

It doesn’t really matter what is on the bucket list, or whether you can afford to do it up brown; it only matters that you at least get a taste.

America isn’t noted for venerating the elderly for wisdom, but that shouldn’t hold you back. At no other time in your life have you been able to voice your opinion without worrying about the consequences.

After a lifetime of doing what you had to, what was expected of you, and what was best for all concerned, you can now respond to “I don’t feel like doing that” by not doing it! You can get up in the morning and say “What do I feel like doing?” – and do just that. As soon as it gets boring, leave it undone and do something else you feel like doing. Sprinkle in a few chores you were always planning to do but never got around to. Eventually everything gets done. And at the end of each day you feel you’ve been productive. Throw away the schedule – it really doesn’t matter if you do laundry on Monday or slip it in between jigsaw puzzles.

Remember that you have no idea of how long you will have your health or sanity, so now is the time. Enjoy it!!

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