Two years ago when my mom was on the verge of retiring early, my dad and I got to talking about his journey of employment, and why he didn’t think he was quite ready to throw in the towel just yet.
I don’t recall the full conversation, but there was one line he said that I’ve yet to forget:
“It’s strange going from saving money your whole life to spending it!”
Woahhh….”Yes!! That sounds horrible!!” I blurted back. “All that hard work and then bam – time to start unloading it!” My dad nervously laughed back, and ever since I stopped jabbing him as much :)
Logically, of course, I know the point of all this saving and investing we’re doing is to be able to use it later for a better future, but something about that convo was so real and raw that I never really stopped to think-think about it until right there in the moment.
How DO you get okay with spending money after decades of saving and skimping by? How do you break a habit that’s 20, 30 or in my father’s case – almost 50 years old in the making?
It sounds like the opposite of everything we’ve been trained to do, right?
I still haven’t come to terms with it if I’m being honest, but two years later I’m proud to report that my father has finally overcome it and officially had his last day of work just last week :) At 60-something years old he has stopped hustling for that almighty dollar, and is now on a mission to soak up what he hopes is an even almightier life of leisure.
I haven’t had another heart-to-money-to-heart talk with him yet, but I can safely say that he seems to have gotten over it when I asked why the reception was so bad on our last call, and the answer was “because we’re on the boat.”
It was 2pm on a Thursday afternoon :)
And good for them. 80+ years of combined working and raising three mighty fine (if you ask me) grown up children, why shouldn’t they be living up the good life now? Money be damned!
Although, I must say, in the past two years leading up to this point I’ve learned a LOT more about my parents’ finances, making me realize just how conservative they actually are. It’s no wonder why their financial advisor asked why they weren’t retired years ago – check out these income streams!
- A full military pension after 20+ years served
- A civilian pension after another handful of years served (what is a pension anyways??)
- Another full pension from my mom’s last working career
- A rental home that brings in income
- A handful of additional retirement accounts
- And lastly, another brokerage account on top of it all! Which I may or may not have “accidentally” seen one day years ago and almost spit out my diet caffeine-free substitute coke (really guys, you can afford the “good” stuff now!!)
I basically learned that my parents were the millionaires next door, and really had nothing at all to worry about. But what do I know – I don’t even know what a pension is ;)
It’s funny looking back over the years though, because I could have sworn my parents were poor at times. I mean, what mother doesn’t let her kids rock the new Air Jordans every single year? (Or, *any* year for that matter?? They should have bought stock in Payless!!). And why couldn’t we have the SUPER Nintendo instead of the lame regular Nintendo mom? Jeez, gosh….
Following “I love you” and “goodnight,” the next popular phrases in our house were “we can’t afford that,” and “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” And then of course, “be thankful for what you have – there are kids in Africa with nothing!”
It didn’t stop us from wanting more, unfortunately, but as a reformed money lover I can now certainly applaud the attempts. And I’m sure I’ll pay for it dearly when my own kids start tormenting me in a few short years!
But my parents DID love me and make sure we were always provided for no matter what, and for that I am eternally grateful. I’m not sure what would have happened if we knew just how well they were doing towards those later years, but I’m glad we were forced to make our own idiotic paths despite them trying to keep us on track. Have I ever told you the story of how I was so proud of contributing to my 401(k) for an entire year, only to realize I actually hadn’t and my balance was still at $0.00??
Sometimes we just gotta figure stuff out on our own :)
So well done, parents! You have reached the pinnacle of financial success, and now it’s all good times and leisure for you. I may not have appreciated any of your tips growing up, but I sure see the light now and I thank you for being two of the best role models a mohawked kid can have.
I love you guys from the bottom of my heart, and I’m so excited for your new journey together!! Go enjoy that boat and motorcycle and travel camper, and don’t forget to take my kids!!
To see my parents’ theory on money and life, check out this interview I did with my mother right before she pulled the plug: Interview w/ My Mom Who Just Found Out She Can Retire Anytime She Wants :)
[Pic up top is three generations of us men. Pic below is the retirement present my dad earned ;)]