MONEY STORIES: Why We Share Our Money Stories

By Georgia Lee Hussey

Every other month we invite a small group of thought leaders to gather and connect in a guided, confidential conversation about money through an event series we launched this summer: MODERNIST MONEY STORIES.

Meaningful, intimate conversations about money lie at the heart of our work with clients and we’ve always aimed to expand these conversations beyond our one-on-one meetings. MODERNIST MONEY STORIES takes these discussions into the larger community and supports our mission of fostering greater money awareness in our world.

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This month we gathered to discuss “Finding meaning in longevity: How could we envision our young-old age? Our old-old age?”

You may wonder, what does aging have to do with wealth management? In our opinion, quite a lot. Our job is to support clients in preparing for the big transitions in life. And retirement planning is about more than having enough money, it’s also about figuring out what will bring you fulfillment and satisfaction in this next phase.

In recent years, experts on aging have moved from a three-stage model of the typical human lifespan (youth, adulthood, and old age) to a four-stage model that splits old age in two (young-old age and old-old age.) Young-old age is roughly between 60 and 80 years old, characterized by an active lifestyle and opportunities for growth in the absence of professional responsibilities. Old-old age begins around 80, and is characterized by changes to one’s health and capabilities that can necessitate lifestyle adjustments.

In light of this context we asked our guests to share their thoughts on a series of questions:

  1. 10 words, phrases, or cliches that come to mind about aging.
  2. In young-old age,can you think of a real or fictional person who could be a role model for well-being and satisfaction? What is it about them that is inspiring?
  3. In old-old age,can you think of a real or fictional person who could be a role model for well-being and satisfaction? What is it about them that is inspiring?
  4. Imagine an ideal vision of a fulfilling day for yourself in young-old age. What does it feel like? Look like? Who would you see? What would you do? Where might you be?
  5. Will this vision need to be different in old-old age? If so, how?
  6. What is one small step you could take today to move closer to making this vision real?
  7. What did you most appreciate about this conversation?

This discussion led to some fascinating and some uncomfortable discoveries. Turns out, most of us didn’t know many people in old-old age and, consequently, had a hard time coming up with role models for this stage of life.

Many of us also harbored anxiety about the changes that will come with aging, though we all knew (and admired) somebody who had handled them with grace. Much of the discussion of ideal visions involved simple pleasures such as spending time with family, enjoying fresh air, and going on long walks. It also featured loftier goals like learning new languages, traveling to new places, and picking up new vocations. And, who can forget the inspiring story of Mighty Joe Rollino, a Coney Island strongman who died by minivan at 104.

It was cathartic to be able to share our aspirations and concerns about this inevitable transition in a group of inspiring, whip-smart Portlanders. We are looking forward to hosting many more of these thoughtful and nourishing discussions in the coming months around a variety of topics.

We hope you will consider the above questions and use them to start important conversations in your community. Let us know what you find!