Many of us are familiar with the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon and the recent gritty, yet super- sultry, STARZ Original Series by the same name where Claire (the Sassenach), a beautiful, goal-oriented and astute WWII English military nurse is mysteriously transported back in time to the mid-1700 Scottish Highlands.
Viewers observe during these mystical traverses through time that Claire quickly realizes she must live two separate lives, but still make goal-driven decisions, in each, to keep her family and friends safe from any unforeseen future harm.
As I have gone through life, much like Claire, but definitely not nearly as romantically….
I have experienced many opportunities to meet and get to know diverse types of people from many walks of life.
Granted none of them, to my knowledge, were traveling through the space and time continuum.
Some of these unique individuals have had seriously BIG, Mind-Boggling dreams and ” Jolly Green Giant Types” of goals. (I am talking HUGE STUFF here…)
And, then, there are those who have had GOOSE-EGG-ZERO personal goals for their life, very few dreams for their future, and a basically ho-hum attitude towards all of it.
This latter group has always left me scratching my head in confusion. And, as my daughter always tells me, “Mom, you are making your thinking face.”
How can so many people just drift through life, and allow for other people (family, bosses, friends) to dictate the direction they go????
I have always been highly intrigued by the first group who take control of their own lives, carve out defined plans, and then work those plans until the end-game goal is met. To be completely honest, this first group 9/10 times crushes their goals and goes far beyond the original plan.
I would like to share “The Story of 2 Separate Lifetimes” with you, and you can be the judge in analyzing (yes, comparing) the end results.
Comparing Lives: Story 1-Jordan
At 24, Jordan was a college graduate, married, and had 1 child. After college the big job was landed and a large home with a large mortgage was purchased. Two new cars (with bank loans) sat in the 3 car garage.
Every month, Jordan’s family had to pay on a large student loan, 5 close-to-maxed out credit cards along with all of the other bills. There was zero retirement planning, no additional life insurance, and they ordered take-out 2-3 times per week for the family. On the weekends, they generally went out with friends 1 of the 2 nights.
At 40, Jordan was still married and had 2 children. Several raises had come and the family had moved into a brand new housing development and built a large 5 bedroom home with a 4 car garage. With the purchase of the new home came lawn and cleaning service monthly payments, insect control sprays, and several other new payments.
With the oldest child driving now, a third car loan was added to the mix.
The family joined the local country club and had added a boat to their weekend activities (and monthly bills). Jordan also liked to take 2-3 family vacations a year and several extended weekend getaways with friends.
At 50, Jordan had begun saving for retirement but still had no additional life insurance beyond the
$10, 000 accidental policy through work.
They continued to pay on credit cards monthly and ate take-out 4-5 times a week. Jordan was experiencing mental stress and anxiety at work. Sleep became very difficult and pills became a regular part of the daily routine.
At 67, Jordan was still working as retirement is not possible with the continued bills from the kids’ weddings, college loans, and second mortgage. Jordan divorced because of the continuous money strain on the marriage for so many years. There was still no life insurance beyond the work policy.
At 78, Jordan was retired (officially at 74.) A very part-time job continues to be utilized as monthly bills are still in need of payment that retirement funds cannot cover.
At 80, Jordan was in need of nursing care and could no longer live independently. A Medicaid spend-down was initiated, so Jordan could make the monthly payments within government assistance.
At 82, Jordan died. Probate court managed the estate because there was no will or end-of-life planning. Jordan’s children split the funeral expenses and were forced to begin making payments to the nursing home for the remainder of the monthly bills.
Comparing Lives: Story 2-Bailey
At 24, Bailey was a college graduate, married, and had 1 child. After college the big job was landed and they met with a financial coach. They began a side-hustle maintenance service for the elderly which they worked on evenings and most weekends. Bailey’s spouse also became involved with a direct marketing company and earned a couple hundred dollars a month from it.
They purchased a moderately priced home and were able to put 30% down because they both had worked themselves through college and saved a lot. They drove 2 pre-owned factory warrantied cars with about 35, 000 miles on each of them. They only had a small loan on one of them.
They did have one student loan, but after talking with their financial coach prepared a written pay-off plan.
At 30, Bailey and spouse wrote wills (2 children) and purchased term life insurance which would incrementally be converted over to whole as they aged to cover expenses, if either were to die at an early age.
Bailey maxed out the 401K match and started a ROTH IRA with the help of having the Elder Community Care Service business.
They did purchase 2 small life insurance policies for their children which built cash value as they each aged, as well. A college savings account (529 Plan) was set up for each child and had small monthly direct deposits directed for each.
Instead of large birthday and Christmas gifts, the family gifted moneys to the kids through either the 529 Plans or the UGMA (Custodial Retirement Plan) accounts the kids had set up in their names. They ate out about once a week and went out with their friends 1-2 times a month.
At 40, Bailey was still married and made 20% more because of raises. The Side-Hustles did continue, but were downsized a bit because of all of the after school activities the kids were in.
The mortgage was still being paid down, but they continued to pay into the retirement and kids’ college funds, with small monthly deposits.
The student loan was paid of 5 years ago. They had 3 used cars and each was paid for because of their older model age at the time of purchase.
They continued to go on one family vacation a year and ate out about 5 times a month. They continued tracking every dollar spent using an online app and it helped them stay focused on their savings goals.
At 67, Bailey was still married, paid college tuition for the 2 kids (made them work through school to pay for room and board), paid for one wedding, bought the retirement home they had always planned for at the age of 50 and rented it out monthly until full-time retirement.
Bailey made sure to contact the local funeral home and pre-planned their funerals, so the kids would not have to worry about it.
They also contacted an estate attorney to help them set up a trust to protect their assets from the federal government, if either of them ever had to go into nursing care.
Their accountant continued to help them with strategic tax planning.
Their retirement plans were prepared for disbursement and they began traveling 2-3 times per year.
At 78, Bailey was still married and enjoyed time with the family. They mainly lived off their dividend paying stocks and annuities.
They still traveled, as they were able.
At 82, Bailey died in a nursing home after a very short 3 month stay. (Bailey’s spouse had died 6 months earlier.)
All of the final expenses were paid in full, the charity of choice was given a sum of money and all of the remaining moneys were left to the designated family members.
Why comparing your life to others is a good thing
I know I am going completely against the Google Grain here. Many psychologists would probably want you to leave the site, right now…
It is said, again and again, “Do not compare your life to anyone else’s.”
Yes, this is a good rule of thumb on most levels.
However, sometimes comparing 2 different lives can bring clarification to decisions you may face in the future.
Wisdom is also gleaned from the analysis of others’ experiences.
Jordan and Bailey lived two distinctively different lives, even though their initial education and income was very much the same.
Each life had its own unique ups and downs- Just like in the Outlander adventure series.
The one difference you may have noticed was the definitive goal-driven planning Bailey and spouse put into each and every move of their life’s journey.
They visited the financial coach early on in their marriage. They stayed on a savings track for: kids’ college, retirement, and life insurance. Bailey paid cash for most everything. (Yes, there were some exceptions.) Bailey died happy and without debt to anyone.
Jordan, on the other hand, lived a life of MORE. They seemed to keep adding to their monthly bill payments rather than planning and paying the earlier obligations off. It had a stacking effect.
Jordan also experienced more physical and mental pain in later life. The stress of finances seemed to takes it toll on health and relationships because there was resulting illness and a divorce.
Questions to ask yourself…
- What conclusions can you come to in comparing these 2 lifetimes?
- Was there any goal-oriented decisions made by either couple? What were they?
- How did having a plan (or not having a plan) play into the end result of these lifetimes?
- Why did their physical and mental health become affected by financial decisions?
- Where do you think the breakdowns occurred in either lifetime?
I certainly do not write any of this to pass judgment on the lives of others. That’s NOT my job.
I do write this with the intention of learning from the past experiences of others. This is where wisdom comes from. And, I don’t know about you~BUT, I could sure use more of that right-about-now!
I would love to hear your thoughts on the idea of life planning and living a life of intention and design.
Just like Claire, from Outlander, many of our decisions are made strictly with others’ futures in mind.
Please send me your comments or questions. I think these discussions are necessary for all of us to have.
*Each “Lifetime” from above is fictional. They are, however, each based in facts from many different real-life individuals I have encountered.