While visiting my grandparents one summer, I had the painful realization that two generations were separating me from death. It was 1980. I was six, and time felt long.
Recently that thought resurrected itself, but this time, I realized that once the Boomers die off, Gen X is up.
Time feels shorter.
I’ve been feeling extra morbid because, in the last months, there has been a streak of death. Friends and colleagues are losing their parents and partners. There are devastating health diagnoses and GoFundMe me pages.
If you follow me, you know my passion is Financial Independence, mindfulness, and travel. In October 2022, we were living a cushy life in Dubai. My role was made redundant, and based on my projections and calculations, we had hit our FI number. We decided to move to Mexico.
Honestly, I thought I had it all figured out, but unfortunately, I grossly underestimated the realities of inflation and Canadian currency devaluation.
Inflation is making life worst
About a month ago, I sent an email to the kind folks at International Living letting them know that their post about living in Playa del Carmen for USD 2,500 was complete nonsense. I offered to update their article since I’d been carefully tracking our spending and realized that it costs about USD 4K a month to live here now.
They never replied.
My American neighbors say prices have increased by 30% over the last 18 months.
In the building next door, the retired twin sisters claim PDC is as expensive as the UK.
By fluke, I ended up landing a role working for a great company which has been a saving grace. Even still, the Canadian dollar is weak as a kitten, and we are limping along.
Luckily, I know we just need to get through this rough patch. Inflation, the dreadful exchange rates, and declining markets — all of it is temporary. By not touching our nest egg, we should be back on track to hit our new FI number in 18–24 months. Once our condo is delivered and the final payment is issued, we can eliminate rent, which is our largest expense.
Things could be worse, and I feel very fortunate.
Knowing that we are so close to the finish line is liberating in and of itself. There is no greater feeling than knowing you have options.
What if everything goes to shit? There’s always that lingering doubt, isn’t there?
Even if it does, I’m here to offer you a morbid scrap of financial salvation.
See the Boomers, our parents, have a lot of money. And in the next decade, they are going to die, and Gen X and the Millennials will inherit their wealth.
In all honesty, for the Boomers who are still young enough or healthy enough, I hope they get out there and enjoy their money.
The older ones were stuck during the peak of their retirement in lockdowns. Now they have inflation eroding their wealth. Not to mention a shorter lifespan and deteriorating health whittling away their most valuable asset, time.
Take my mom as an example.
She worked until she was 70, officially retiring in 2018. Five years into her retirement, she’s spent 30% of her time under Covid restrictions.
Though she still managed three trips to the UAE, that’s still a significant amount of time trapped inside her house.
Arguably the borders are open again, but travel has been an effing nightmare. My mom and I have been planning a trip to Europe for several years, but now she’s hesitant.
I keep reminding her that she’s not getting any younger, and I’ve finally convinced her to go in 2024. Each passing year represents an increasingly larger slice of her remaining time.
If she makes it to 85, each year is 10% of her remaining life.
For me, at 48, if I get to 85, each year is 2.7%.
Waiting to retire at 65 makes no sense
This is why I love Bill Perkins’ book, Die with Zero. The guy masterfully explains why you should not wait until you’re 65 to live your life.
At 65, you’re already 30 years past your prime.
Think about it. At what age were you your most agile, flexible, and limber self? My husband plays tennis like a champ, and his game has improved over time. But at 50, he has injuries and can’t run as fast.
The sad reality is that we rarely have enough money when we’re younger to tick off all our dream experiences.
If you’ve got money and you’re planning to leave it to your family, Bill argues, you should do it now while they can enjoy it.
What’s better? Getting $100K at 35 or 65?
At 65, you’ve likely already saved enough. Maybe you’ve scrimped and saved and worn those golden handcuffs until the bitter end. A $100K inheritance is a nice bonus, but what exactly will you do with it? You’ll likely have a few health issues which might dampen your eagerness to skydive or trek or whatever you dreamed of doing when you were younger but didn’t.
At 35, maybe you are raising a family or would like to buy a house. When would you rather have an uptick in life quality, or a yard, or a family vacation? Now or in 30 years?
When the Boomers die off, $68 trillion will be passed down. They are calling it the Great Wealth Transfer.
I know a lot of younger people are pissed at Boomers. They are raging because the Boomers ruined everything.
I get it.
Many had defined benefit pensions and cheap houses. They had great careers and were able to move up and make more money.
I love the Boomers. I understand them and the circumstances that made them who they are.
On the other hand, I don’t understand why they refuse to spend their damn money.
- Did they set out planning to leave so much money to their kids? Or was it accidental and compound interest meant they ended up with an unexpected surplus?
- Why didn’t they spend it? Is it because the oldest were war babies, and they are hardcoded for frugality?
- What’s the whole deal with leaving it to your kids after you’re already dead?
- And how come there’s so much stigma and silence around money and inheritances in the first place?
My friend, a financial planner, was telling me about his millionaire clients, many of whom are in their 80s, who refuse to spend even $15 on breakfast for fear of wasting or running out of money.
I plan to die having enjoyed every last nickel. For me, that means filling my life with travel and meaningful experiences. Mind you I have already traveled a lot which means I am comfortable loosening the purse strings.
Thankfully for humanity, and like many of my cynical Gen X counterparts, I opted out of pro-creation. I figure there’s enough intergenerational trauma going around so best to let that (and our money) die with us.
An inheritance (might be) like winning the lottery.
Though I say with certainty that I’ll die with zero, the truth is that it’s impossible to predict. But seeing Boomer money patterns means I’ll hopefully recognize them and substitute another way before it’s too late to change:
- Continued asset accumulation at the expense of enjoying life
- Delaying dream experiences or waiting until it’s too late
- Working in a job you hate
- Obsessive frugality when you have millions
- Denying those near you who need support when you have the means
- Leaving money to people who you’ll never see enjoy what you left them
Most of us are unconscious of our money mindsets. Through awareness, we can free ourselves and use money as a tool for good or generosity, or freedom.
WHAT’S THE FUTURE LIKE
In the next decade, a lot of money will change hands. And that is because the Boomers are dying with trillions they could have spent but didn’t.
There is a profound sadness to that, isn’t there?
When we think of winning the lottery, we imagine the ease of spending the money. We have all dreamt of it, but the Boomers are a living testament that spending is not that simple.
I find it ironic that so many lottery winners blow all their money, while those with lottery-sized savings hoard it.
If you think you’ll be inheriting money in the coming years, take some time to think about what you’ll do with the money. Read books and talk to experts or trusted friends. Challenge your thinking about the kind of life and experiences you’d like to create. If there’s still time, consider enjoying more time with your parents.
The last few years have been a powerful teacher. A continued reminder is that when we’re future-focused, we sometimes miss out on what’s in front of us.
How many times have you had these thoughts:
- When the pandemic ends, I’ll….
- When prices drop, I’ll…
- Once inflation stabilizes, I’ll…
- When I save X amount of money, I’ll…
In other words:
Don’t let the future steal your present.