Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Saving for the future

The WSJ had a special section today about people saving for retirement, profiling various couples and individuals. Although the article was intended to be a snapshot of how different kinds of financial investments were right for different situations, I found it particularly interesting that of the three featured families with children, all the mothers were either full-time stay-at-home moms or else were currently taking time off from their jobs to be at home. Investing in the future, indeed.

WaiterRant recently had up a post on the topic of the right kind of investing

The old man glares at his son but says nothing. I feel bad for both of these guys. It’s tough when parents and children reverse roles. When I worked in geriatric psych I saw it all the time. Old age, with its frailties and vulnerabilities, makes many elderly people fearful and nervous. One of the most common manifestations of this anxiety is worrying about money. Sure, people on fixed incomes need to be careful, but I’m talking about unnecessary worry. I once knew an old man who lived in a dilapidated old house, never turned on the heat, and, despite being sick, avoided going to the doctor because he was afraid of the bills. After his bloated corpse was found two weeks postmortem, detectives discovered he had close to a million dollars in his savings account.

Everyday I see television advertisements from financial firms pitching “wealth management” to aging Boomers worried about retirement. Maybe they should talk about growing human capital as well. Having a robust financial plan isn’t going to mean shit if no one’s around to love you. That was the tragedy of the old hermit. His million dollars might have well been Monopoly money.

Several years ago we moved in with Darwin's 93-year-old grandmother, who was determined to finish out her days in her own house and not in a nursing home with "those damn old people". Grandma was a tough old bird. You can take the girl out of Iowa, but you can't take Iowa out of the girl: she had an abrasive streak a mile wide and never met a topic she didn't have a strong opinion on. Depression was a favorite topic of hers. She had lived through the historical Depression in the 30s (Darwin's dad used to joke that Grandma had grown up during the Depression, and so had he), and in her later years she suffered from the medical condition. (Of a cousin's daughter, Grandma once confided to me in admiring tones that "She had the very worst kind of depression -- the kind you can't cure!)

But Grandma had made the right kind of investment in the future, and she died in her own home, having been able to cuddle her great-granddaughter daily and attended at the last by her beloved grandson. Everyone should be so fortunate.

1 comment:

David Curp said...

Hey friends, check out this classic essay from First Things, winsomely titled "I want to be a burden to my loved ones." The title says a lot but enjoy the whole thing.