One of the perks of being old is that you are the master of your own bedtime. But in a cruel twist of irony, you find yourself not staying up later, but longing to go to bed earlier. When does this happen? For me, roughly seven years into four kids. Now I know why old people go to bed so early – they’re tired. Conversely, my kids are rarely tired at bedtime – particularly when there’s a game on – any game – of any sport. On one such night, we put them to bed at their appointed bedtime. And surprisingly, no backlash. (That should have tipped us off that something was awry.) They went to their rooms, closed the doors, and...quiet. We were able to watch the game with little interruption. I hardly heard a peep out of them for two hours.
You can teach an old dog new tricks, it’s just harder. But why? Why is it harder? Are older folks incapable of learning? Of course not. I be old, and I still getting smarter. So what else? Maybe age has a way of hard wiring your brain into certain patterns of thought? As Dr. Kathleen Taylor from St. Mary’s College in California states, “…continued brain development and a richer form of learning may require that you bump up against people and ideas that are different.” Okay. Let’s rub up against a few different ideas and people from the news this week. The different idea: Starbucks is anti-Christian because its cups are a different shade of red, and the tree print is no longer there. The different person: Donald Trump is the GOP’s leading candidate for the presidency OF THE UNITED STATES. Let’s see…uh…nope. No continued brain development here. In fact, I think I’m less developed now. While I could write plenty on each of those ridiculous statements, I’ll summarize both with one word: A sad state of affairs. But there’s hope for us all in a new segment I’m calling:
My Kids are Smarter than Me:
This week’s edition comes from Charles Henry, age 7, a Leo from Nashville, TN. (The fact that he’s a Leo has about as much relevance to this story – or to anything for that matter- as a red cup has to Christianity. But I digress.) Upon returning from the store, his mom asked him to help put up the groceries. Charles Henry was given eight rolls of toilet paper, with instructions to put two rolls in each bathroom. He paused momentarily, then asked, “Mom…can I have one for the woods?” Mom was stunned. Dad was beaming with pride! He’s making a plan. His experience with such matters made quite an impression on him, apparently, and drove him to action. As the old saying goes, “Soil me once, shame on food. Soil me twice, shame on me.” Okay, maybe no one says that. But here’s the point: He’s been caught once; he won’t be caught again. Quick learner. So why can’t adults be quick learners? As the aforementioned research would suggest, we’ve obviously been rubbing up against the wrong ideas and people.
So let’s try a different idea or two:
You don’t all of the sudden find yourself in large amounts of debt. Well, you might, but you shouldn’t. It doesn’t happen overnight. You’ve made the decision, lots of times, apparently, to pay later for something you want now. Debt is like aging. Left unchecked, it’s going to hurt.
It’s okay not to always have what you want. I know that hurts, but wouldn’t you rather go to bed wanting than owing? Don’t let income drive your spending. And don’t habitually spend more than you have. Create breathing room between what you earn and what you spend. It’s called margin. Life is better with it.
How about a different person:
You. Young or old, you can change. While you may have deeply rutted paths in your synapses – blah blah blah – behaviors can change. “You don’t get it,” you say. ”My situation’s different.” Nope. It’s not. All of us have limited amounts of time, talents and resources. And with those limits, comes the responsibility to manage them. And while you don’t have to go it alone, you do have to take the first step. Rub up against someone who’s qualified to help and just ask.
It starts with a question. Charles Henry knew his. What’s yours? Call us. We can help.
CapSouth Investment Update
It has certainly been an interesting couple months for the equity markets. At the market close on August 25th the S&P 500 Index had declined 12.4% from its high point earlier in 2015. Over the following month it experienced some small gains initially only to end up retesting the lows on September 28th. From that point to now there has been a fairly persistent move up so that the S&P 500 is once again within striking range of its high point. Given this recent action, I want to review several items I’ve mentioned previously and then touch on the investment changes we made early in October.
Time’s have sure changed. When I was a kid, boredom was a short-lived condition. No sooner did the words come out of my mouth, “Mom, I’m bor…” Bam! I was cleaning something. After a few bouts with my bathroom, boredom wasn’t much of an issue. I got creative. Today, it seems our solution for boredom is the smartphone or the video game controller. Hmm. Nothing bad can happen there – just non social-skilled zombies with carpel tunnel. Get off your phone. Go outside. Pick up a ball and play with it. And that goes for all you kids out there, too.
So in an effort to be part of the solution, I’ve put a list together of a few practical alternatives to boredom:
1) Check your retirement accounts to make sure the primary beneficiary listed is actually the person you want it to be. You’d be surprised how many times life changes, significantly for some, but their primary beneficiary paperwork does not. Pop Quiz: Who’s currently listed as your beneficiary and will receive what could be your single largest asset after you die? Don’t know? Go find out. Go ahead. It’s that important. I’ll wait…
2) Check your life insurance policies while you’re at it. Same story here. If the name on record is not the name it should be, you need to make it right. As in right now. The pain of you dying is likely hard enough, so let’s not introduce a mess for those you’ve left behind. As I’ve said before, you can’t change it when you’re dead. With life insurance policies and retirement accounts like IRAs and 401(k)s, the beneficiary designation is the last will and testament for the account - regardless of what your will says. Yes, I’ll wait…
3) Put your phone down. Give it a rest. Go outside and shudder at the sight and warmth of that great fireball in the sky! And while you’re out there, go for a walk, hold hands with your spouse and reintroduce yourself to your kids.
4) Find a place in your community where your family can serve together. As the holidays approach, opportunities will abound to help those who might well do anything to have a little boredom in their lives. Create a legacy of service for your family and fill your hearts with the joy of serving others. Studies have shown that you learn more when you listen, and you have more when you give. In a moment of transparency, I could do both. Could you?
5) Play the animal game. Every now and again, the six of us will sit in the den and take turns imitating an animal. (I can’t help but smile as I type these words.) It’s the real deal – guaranteed to make you laugh. Helpful advice: You’d better be able to guess what animal your ultra-competitive 7-year old is or there’ll be trouble. Also popular is the Family Dance Off. Since I’m the DJ for this event, I’m mercifully exempt from the dancing. I play a song from iTunes and the person who’s “up” has to dance to it. Sometimes they get to choose their own song, sometimes they don’t. But they have to dance…or it’s off to the bathroom you go with bucket and soap in hand. Some call that "forced participation". I call it - forced participation. And it’s money in the bank. Fun guaranteed.
6) Check your 401(k) / IRA allocations. Are you taking the appropriate amount of risk to support your family’s financial plan? Honestly, this isn’t typically a cure for boredom; it’s more of a source, really. Nevertheless, it’s a good thing to do on occasion. You don’t have to actually change your allocation – just know how you’re invested and why you’re invested that way. If you don’t know the answers to those types of questions, call me. That’s what we do.
As I said from the start, times have changed.
And they’re going to change again. Sunday morning, in fact.
This is the weekend most of the country sets our clocks back an hour. And for some, that means it will start getting dark…oh… just after lunch or so? But fear not, for boredom has his talons in you no longer! Instead, you now have the power to release the hidden animal within or to dance your way into the hearts of your family. Fire up the iTunes, Charles Henry, and put on your dancin’ shoes! Daddy’s coming home!
It may not be pretty but it beats anything you can do on a phone – other than talk to someone, but who does that anymore….uh…. boring.
So where, exactly, did this month go? Lately, it’s been football this night, soccer that night, swimming and guitar the other night…and even a few bouts with cotillion (which is rumored to have something to do with manners and chivalry. Given the son of mine that’s taking part in it, I’d say we paid too much.) The eldest was involved in a double-overtime football game with the cross-town rival. Beautiful weather, packed stadium. Police presence in full force. The winning team assured of home field advantage in the first round of the state playoffs. It’s the scenario you dream about as a player and as a dad. Sadly, Nick came up a point short. The youngest, Charles Henry, was tabbed to be the keeper in the overtime penalty kick phase in round one of the city’s Under 7 soccer playoffs. He, also, fared not so well. Nick is 17, Charles Henry is 7. Different ages, different maturity levels, and different life experiences. Same result. Heartache. But short lived. Nick just needed a reassuring hand on the back and space to digest the loss. Charles Henry, a few bear hugs and some candy. Boom. All good. I know life will become more complicated for these boys as they venture into manhood and the stakes for parental provision will surely be much higher.