I was recently speaking with a friend of mine who has a child with serious mental health needs. We were talking about the list of people that you have in your team that help you. By team, I don’t mean your spouse (though maybe he/she/they are very helpful), but I was actually thinking of the number of service providers that I pay to basically help me with my life. I do not have children so my needs are slightly different than hers as the list doesn’t include good medical practitioners. At the moment my board-members or teammates include my housecleaner that comes once a fortnight, my personal trainer that I see twice a week, and more recently, the stylist from Stitch Fix that will send me a box of clothes every three months. I guess I could also include my hairdresser, but I don’t care that much about my hair, so I don’t think of her as a teammate. My team used to include a therapist, especially when I was in graduate school and also when I started my career in the other country, but lately and as my career and relationship have matured, I think the personal trainer has replaced the therapist.
I grew up in a household that had none of these things. While both my parents worked full time, they almost out of principle, did everything themselves, including managing a large garden, all household chores, and car and home-repairs. If I talk to my mom about getting a housecleaner, she seems horrified by the idea, both from what I think is a class perspective (only rich people pay for such things) and also from a privacy perspective. My parents, like a lot of boomers I think, have enjoyed a very substantial increase in their standard of living over time. While their assets are relatively small, their consumptive spending has been apace with their generation. They have also barely saved for retirement, which again is typical of their generation and something that we worry about.
I have examples of extremes from all sides of my family: One of my grandmothers only worked from home and managed an enormous veg garden in their backyard. It provided most of their food during the summer and also a lot of it in the winter. She spent an enormous amount of labour growing, tending, canning, processing and storing food. They were also vegetarian, for religious reasons, and her garden was the soul of her life. My spouse on the other hand had cleaners and nannies and people around him growing up and then later on, after the U.S. financial crisis, his immediate family lost everything. His family now lives in a multi-generational household and his parents are exhausted by caring for their elderly parents (nearing age 100) and my nephew who they help manage with my brother-in-law.
How much help do you need? How will it change over your lifetime? Who is in your own personal boardroom at yourname .Inc? Do you think about your budget from this perspective? If so, why not? This is something that I am coming to terms with regarding our parents. At the moment, my budget is all about me and my immediate needs, but that will change. How do you invest to make sure you can support yourself with your team and manage the changes that come with elderly parents?