What Would Your 80-Year-Old Self Tell You Today?

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By Mike Gertsema, Senior Wealth Advisor

Recently, a book by Susan O’Malley titled Advice from My 80-Year-Old Self, Real Words of Wisdom from Ages 7 to 88 caught my attention.

I’ve heard of books asking you to give advice to your 21-year-old self, but not your 80-year-old self. In a sense, the book is asking you to have a conversation with your 80-year-old self at whatever age you are today. I think it’s an interesting concept, especially since we have the pleasure of working with people from all ages, but the bulk of our clients range from 50 to 95.

Giving (and Getting) Advice

We get the opportunity to give advice to clients with financial plans, tax planning, estate planning, investment management, risk management, and cash flow, but we also have a huge opportunity to receive advice from our clients regarding what they’ve learned and experienced over their lives.

Sometimes the wisdom we get is surprising and shocking. We get the privilege of knowing our client’s life experiences because it impacts their financial plan. Financial planning is all about you, not about us. Our mission is to empower you to make life decisions on your terms.

I think most of our clients could write a book regarding their life experiences with their childhood, family experiences, school experiences, work experiences, career roller coasters, heart breaks, major setbacks, and many success stories.

Each chapter would be filled with your life experiences, some chapters filled with great stories that I’m sure would bring laughter and others bringing us to tears. Wouldn’t it be great if we logged our life experiences and wrote a book for our families to treasure?

Quotes from the Book

What advice would your 80-year-old self give you? Here are a few quotes of advice straight from O’Malley’s book:

“Don’t ever lie” – Barbara, 82 years old

“Appreciate your body, especially when it’s working” – Larry, 88 years old

“Look to others for help and to help” – Josie, 72 years old

“Live each day as if it’s your last” – Adbul, 73 years old

“Try again and again and again” – Larry, 88 years old

“Be nicer to yourself” – Joan, 85 years old

“Do things that matter to your heart” – Caroline, 71 years old

“Be bad at something, perfection is overrated” – Margaret, 77 years old

“Life is good, enjoy every bit of it now” – Marcy, 82 years old

“You can never catch up on having fun” – Fari, 73 years old

“Love is everywhere, look for it” – Kit, 83 years old

There was one person that gave financial advice, and it was Ken, age 59: “Save your money, you’ll need it.”

I have one from one of my older clients. He once told me he doesn’t even buy green bananas at his age.  Therefore, he didn’t think financial planning was a good idea, but he did it and he is very glad he did.

Reflecting on Life vs. Money

When I reflect on the advice in the book, I realize it’s all about life not money. Money is nothing more than a tool that allows you to live – and hopefully enjoy – life. It’s a tool, not the only tool. Sometimes I get the pleasure of just talking with our elderly clients about life and take time to listen to their life stories and experiences. It helps mold me into a better person because they are giving me heartfelt advice. It’s a privilege that clients think enough of me that they will go out of their way to give advice and help guide me.

Our practice has had an advisory board for years, which many you already know. It consists of clients of all ages who are willing to listen to what we are doing with our business and where we’d like to go. The advice we’ve received from them is part of the success of our practice – we could not succeed without the help and support of our advisory board and our clients. We all know it’s all about our clients and we will never forget it.

It leads to what we’re all looking for: advice, not a sales pitch. If you have questions concerning retirement, Social Security benefits, taxes, risk management, investments, cashflow, estate planning, and anything regarding your financial future give us a call, text or email. If you’re looking for life advice, you can read O’Malley’s book or take time to talk to that 80-year-old and listen.

What Advice Do You Have for Me?

My big take away from this book is, “What advice would you give your 80-year-old self today?” knowing what you know now or what you wished your 80-year-old self could tell you today?

Better yet, are you 70, 80, or 90 years old and have advice for your family or better yet, for me? I’d be flattered and honored to get feedback on advice from you, it may lead to another blog, only this time I will be the author telling everyone what I learned from you! My email address is mike@gertsema.net.


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