You Can’t Take it With You

Posted on February 6, 2013 under Storytelling with one comment


We were rolling coins the other day as part of our pre-retirement planning.  In the spring we will plant another money tree in hope that, this time, it will take root.  And of course, when all else fails, we will go to the old standby – lottery tickets; which, apparently, is how one third of the population plans to fund their retirement.

We are heading into the time of the year when the financial world ramps up the rhetoric about retirement planning in an effort to shake money out of your pockets.  We will be besieged by companies who promise to make us rich.  It is crunch time for the baby boomers.  However, one thing that the financial industry fails to recognize amidst all the hype is that we have children.  And yes, though I realize that money isn’t everything, it sure keeps the kids in touch.

In the post war era large families were commonplace.  Actually it was the norm.  On our street alone, there were at least ten families that had at six kids or more.  Lest I lapse into a rant about the “good old days”, let me assure you that it was not a time of plenty.  All of these families had the necessities of life including food, shelter and Mass on Sunday.  Most of these families were single income and after feeding all the hungry mouths, there wasn’t a lot left over for luxuries.  In order to earn our allowance of 50 cents we had to do the dishes, make our beds and say the rosary without complaint.  Mind you, 50 cents bought a lot in those days.  You could go to the Saturday matinee at the theatre for 37 cents and with the remaining 13 cents get enough penny candy to keep the local dentists in business.

When we were old enough we were expected to be self-sufficient if we had any hopes of enjoying the fine things in life like a $3.00 CCM hockey stick.  So we pumped gas, delivered newspapers, mowed lawns, shovelled driveways after snow storms, trapped muskrats and babysat in order to bolster our savings.  And then, when we were still in our teens, we were sent into the world to fend for ourselves in university, trade school or via direct entry into the labour force.

Every generation is different and our children have grown up in a much different world. Today the objective is to keep them alive until they’re twenty five.  The whole notion of money has changed.  First of all, most of our kids haven’t seen, and don’t use cash… at least their own.  Everything is now done electronically and one suspects that before too long, we will have a small computer chip embedded in our hand .  We will merely hold up the hand to a touch screen to pay for goods and services. You can just wave your money goodbye.

We can’t hold our children responsible for our somewhat meagre retirement savings.  Just when you think they are all “off the payroll”, along come the grandchildren.  If you thought it was hard saying no to your children, wait until you look into your grandchild’s eyes.  Most of us have resigned ourselves to working forever.  That will fix those financial advisor types.  We’ll fool them.  We’ll die with our boots on.

As the old saying goes, “you can’t take it with you”.  Having offspring  has assured us of that.  It also means that we will be leaving something pretty wonderful behind.

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