Life’s True Purpose

Some months ago, Rhonda and I attended a two day retirement planning seminar. It really pissed me off. Why? Because one of the things we learned at this event was life’s true purpose, at least as it’s defined by financial planners. It’s breathtakingly simple, but quite unsettling. What is this incredible truth?

Your true purpose in life is to work as hard as you can for as long as you can, denying yourself as much as you can in order to save all that you can so that in the final year of your life, you can afford to pay tens of thousands of dollars a month to an institutional care facility to feed you gruel, wipe your drool, and regularly change your diapers.

Yep, that’s what they said. Not in so many words, of course, but for two days we were fed a continual stream of information about how hideously expensive assisted living and end-of-life care are, how much more expensive they are projected to become in the future, and that no matter how much money you think you’ll have or need, it won’t be anywhere close to enough.

For two days I sat there waiting for the punch line, but it apparently wasn’t a joke. And the kicker was that even if you buy into this notion of how your life should be spent, most of the people who live like ascetics and save every penny they can will probably die from a stroke or a heart attack or a too-close encounter with a bus long before they ever get the opportunity to enrich our assisted living industry. Great for the kids and grandkids possibly, for you not so much.

It took a lot of bourbon and Jimmy Buffett to get my head right and make the bad taste go away. In the end, I decided I have no desire to live my life that way. As I said in my previous post I Am Serious. And Don’t Call Me Shirley, our greatest joy is in being together experiencing photo-worthy moments.  So I think we’ll just go cruising, and let tomorrow tend to itself. If the goal is to try to die rich, I’ll be happy being rich in memories.

So how do you want to spend your life?


3 thoughts on “Life’s True Purpose

  1. fdthird


    Dreams are wonderful and I love yours and your attitude and I’m happy to tell you that my wife Sue and I share your philosophy. I found your blog yesterday while sitting on the porch of our beach house in Ocean City, NJ and googling hoists that might help us get items up to our deck. After I read about your engine hoist, I bookmarked your blog on my iPad because as a writer myself, I like to follow other people and their adventures. This morning I started to read it in earnest, and two things jumped out at me. # 1 was the line from a post that said, “if your dreams don’t scare you, there probably not big enough”. As someone on the edge of retirement, looking to live our dreams (ours is our beach house and traveling around the U.S.) I really needed to hear that. #2 your discussion in this post about what your purpose is in life as determined by the “financial experts” that chart our lives. You are right on the nose with their philosophy, which unfortunately, so many others seem to live under. Yes, we’d have more money if I kept working, but life is too short and living your dream is way more important than dying with a big bank account.

    As Mr. Buffett says, “I’d rather die while I’m living, than live while I’m dead!” Looking forward to reading about your dreams and living ours starting in early 2016!

    Fins Up


    1. Robert Post author


      Thanks for the comment, I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. Taking the road less traveled can be a bit frightening, and I certainly remember the comfort I found in reading the accounts of others who had gone down a similar path with no regrets. I can honestly say that now that I’ve pulled the trigger and retired and we’re living on our boat preparing to head for the islands, all my anxiety over whether this was the right choice has faded away. I think you’ll feel the same way once you go ahead with your plans. Good luck to you both!

      BTW, I hadn’t looked at some of those old posts in a while, and so I didn’t realize the Youtube link in my “Don’t Call Me Shirley” post was broken. I found another version to link to and updated the post.




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