The following are the lessons of someone who lived through the crash of 1929 and the Great Depression and not merely endured but prevailed, not merely survived but thrived.
Prepare Today for Tomorrow
A husband and wife wake up one day to that their children are grown and gone from them in order to make a home of their own. To overcome this emptiness (or empty nest) and eliminate some sorrow, heartaches, and confusion as suggested by counselors, psychologists, lawyers, and ministers, and since they are alive, well, and healthy, it’s time for them to develop individual interests. Couples need to face the fact that someone will die and the relationship will end. If the relationship is a tight, live-for-each-other type of relationship the loss will be devastating [N.B. and even with preparation it was for James Arthur West, my grandfather, as when his wife suddenly died, he developed painful shingles for the first time in his life after 50+ years of marriage]. So adjustment to changed circumstances is better when there is no emergency and dependence is not so great. ‘Be Prepared’— the Boy Scout motto is a good one for us all.
Couples should level with each other and both know the whole situation of their responsibilities and what they might be faced with individually and how to finalize a situation at hand. The basics are funeral arrangements, where the important papers and documents are kept, tax records, social security numbers, insurance, policies, wills and other deeds and papers involved in estate settlements and benefit claims. The husband needs to know how to take over the household duties and the wife should know the total financial situation and how to handle it. At the end of a long marriage it is important that the one left keep a positive attitude and look to the future, not dwell on or in the past.
After retirement you still have each other and one of the hardest and most important adjustments is learning how to live on less money and how to allot your time. You should never complete everything to be done, rather leave something for tomorrow. The spending pattern will need adjusting and it helps to make comparisons before purchasing things. Banking institutions say that retirees can live on half to two thirds of the income they had during their working years and a single person needs about 60% of a couple’s cost.
Financial counselors warn that a retired couple may have sufficient income to meet their needs but may have never prepared to lower their standards of living to match reduced income. The result is chaos, depleted savings, and often bitter arguments and strife. Retirees should buy little or nothing on credit! To use credit to preserve your saving account is short sighted. It is assumed the couple owns their own house. The cost of running a house is the biggest expense. The next is food, and the third is cars. The auto should be paid for and used only when necessary. The only way to figure out where the money goes is to keep complete records. Find out what is out of line in your spending and then adjust to stay within your budget. Cut back on some categories. The first and most important thing is to know what your income is and then live within your means. Make the budget fit the income. Some retirees think that making a budget is a waste of time, but allotting one’s resources wisely can make one happier and more secure. Most of all, a written budget makes you consider what is really important. There are six rules for a budget:
- Make it simple and make sure it covers everything.
- Write it down monthly in a book with dates
- Constantly update the book
- Allow for incidentals, miscellaneous, personal.
- Have an emergency fund for the unexpected., saving a certain amount is a must.
- Make it realistic, keep accurate records.
In budgeting the first thing is to pay yourself or set aside certain amount for savings, and refrain from dipping into it. Savings are to cover emergencies. Start budgeting when everything and everyone is normal. All of this will give you a good feeling and will expel worry, and giving you a positive attitude which is a key to good health. There are many ways and places you can save and still enjoy your retirement. Frequent stores that have sales and cut prices but you must know when you are getting a good deal. By budgeting you will be amazed how much you spend on odds and ends. Ben Franklin once said beware of small expenses because small leaks can sink ships. Sometimes you may even have to cut back on your contributions or charitable giving, even to the church, to make the budget. Living beyond your means is taking undue advantage of those who trust in your integrity. When you lose your integrity all your so called friends drop you like a hot potato. Remember the parable about the talents, with them distributed variously to various persons. Remember how all those receiving the talents multiplied them— except one, and that one had it taken away and given to others. The moral is— Be Prepared.