The Busy Summer Months
We always think holiday time in November and December is so busy, but if you are a parent or grandparent, have you ever realized how busy summer is? Last days of school, finals, graduations, Memorial Day, Vacations, 4th of July… whew! It’s no wonder time flies as fast as it does. And just like that, I am going to my 40th high school class reunion this summer. How did that happen!?!
I don’t find it wise or healthy to think about regrets in life. Focus forward is all we can really do to stay positive and make a difference. But if you think back to what you know now, and wish you would have known back then, we all have some thoughts. If you could tell your younger self anything before your graduation (from high school or post-secondary school), what would it have been? And have you shared those thoughts and stories with your grandchildren?
5 Things I Wish I Would Have Known Sooner
I came up with five things I wish I had realized sooner, would have told my younger self, and started to share with my children/grandchildren. I think it’s important to pass these things on so hopefully they keep them in mind as they navigate some of life’s challenges. Maybe these mantras will help you think of some wishes or important information you want to share with your children or grandchildren.
- Stress is real! So invest in yourself via healthy lifestyle behaviors. I was all about the healthy, wellness way of life early on but I also thought stress was way over-rated. What’s the big issue? Deal with it and move on, right? It is important to understand the physiology of stress. If left unmanaged and repeated over a long time, it slowly kills you. Know anyone who died of a heart attack at a fairly young age, due to a high-stress job? Translation: exercise, intentionally find ways to relieve stress, and don’t stay in a job that dishes out chronic stress.
- If you can see it, you can achieve it! I wish I had learned at a younger age about how to create a vision board to set and see goals. I didn’t create my first vision board until I was an adult. Our young grandchildren often start out wanting to be an astronaut, pro football player, or a ballerina when they grow up. But then somewhere along the way, we all seem to lose the “I can be whatever I want to be” attitude. Intentionally thinking about how you want to live is important for all ages. What is important to you in life? What do you need to make those goals come alive? Why don’t we learn visualization, meditation, and goal setting early on in our education journey?
- The superpower of saying “No!” We women often have been encouraged to put others first and to focus on being a pleaser. Realizing that it’s good and healthy to be assertive enough to say “no” to something you don’t want is a skill to be practiced. Your heart or your body or your wallet may thank you later for mastering that word.
- Tell your money where to go, instead of wondering where your money went (one of my favorite lines from Dave Ramsey, the Financial Peace guru). In other words, spend less than you earn, and live within your means. Many couples are opposites when it comes to finances. One is a penny pincher and the other a more lavish spender (Dave Ramsey refers to those roles as a Nerd and a Free Spirit). As long as couples communicate respectfully, they can actually complement each other well with these different financial personalities. One woman shared with me the other day that if it weren’t for her husband, she would probably never spend the money they worked so hard to earn, save, and invest. Saving, saving, saving was ingrained in her since childhood. So much so that she has to force herself to learn to enjoy the spending side of life
- Pay yourself first. Waiting until we can “afford” to fund a Roth IRA, contribute the maximum match to the employer plan, or set up an automatic sweep to savings will waste the most important compounding years of youth. Making a decision once, to start an automatic investment, saves you from making emotional decisions later about should I or shouldn’t I or maybe I will wait until…and suddenly years have flown by!
A Call to Grandmothers
What graduation advice would you have given yourself? No regrets, just wishing you would have realized some things earlier on in life. Grandparents often have a special relationship with their grandchildren. They may listen to you and your stories more than mom and dad. Have you shared your thoughts as they approach the graduation times in their life?
I realize that graduation comes at all ages these days. This Spring, I received an adorable, professional photo of my 6-year-old granddaughter’s graduation from kindergarten, complete with cap and gown! I remember my children “graduating” from preschool and 8th grade. So it’s not just a high school or post-secondary school teachable moment opportunity. You can plant age-appropriate seeds at various ages.
A Little Nudge
To help families educate, nudge their children/grandchildren, and have more discussion around some of these topics, I’ve written some life event financial checklists. In this season of graduation, I invite you to check out the Before and After High School Graduation or Before and After Post-Secondary School Graduation money tips checklists. Each generation wants a better life for those that come after them. Sharing stories, lessons learned, and “coulda, shoulda, woulda” thoughts can help toward that desire which is a win-win for everyone!
This article was first published at 60 and Me – a community that helps women over 60 live happy, healthy and financially secure lives.