I am a member of the Blogger Kitchen Cabinet for AARP’s Decide.Create.Share. – an initiative on long-term planning. I am compensated for my insights and writings. All opinions are my own. 

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My gorgeous sister (while expecting baby Henry), my grandmother, me and Alice

When I think about the future, I envision Charlie, Eve and Alice in their college graduation gowns. I imagine a family picture with my beloved children standing taller than me. I see us on airplanes together as a family with suitcases they packed themselves. I picture driving a U-Haul as I help them move into their apartments or graduate housing. I pray that they stay on the straight and narrow to live healthy, fruitful lives.

But my prayers, hopes and financial plans for the future always involve my children. Beyond quarterly viewings of our steadily-growing retirement funds’ statements and making payments on our various insurance plans, I do not regularly or thoroughly think about how Chris and I will care for each other for the long haul. And I consciously avoid thinking about the specific steps I would take to provide for myself alone if Chris, our family premium bread-winner and someone who will most likely always out-earn me, were not always by my side. But I have seen too many people I love pass away before old age to know that banking on the continuation of my fairy tale is not a good financial strategy.

As a mom of three young children, one still in diapers, it is tough for me to think beyond funding three college educations. But if I’m lucky, I will be a mere 59 years old when our youngest finishes her undergraduate degree. I still have a living grandparent, the beautiful woman pictured above. My husband and I both have seen the elderly in our families make it well into their nineties.  Long range planning for our own retirements and end of life care NOW is essential.

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I was honored to be asked to serve as a member of AARP’s Blogger Kitchen Cabinet, a group of women bloggers who are learning about the steps we should take now for our own long-range planning, and assisting AARP in communicating with other women online.

A resource that I have found immensely helpful is AARP’s Decide Create Share toolbox. Although I am not yet a member of AARP, the nonprofit organization that helps people 50 and older improve the quality of their lives, the non-threatening planning tools are essential for my financial health. Planning for how I will care for myself and my husband after our earning power and health have diminished is a heck of a lot easier now while we are at the top of our games.

Decide. Create. Share. is an AARP initiative dedicated to increasing awareness among women about the depth and breadth of long-term care and the benefits of planning.

It encompasses three primary steps:

  • DECIDE where you see yourself in the future.
  • CREATE a comprehensive plan that includes your home, health, finances and wishes.
  • SHARE your decisions with others so they know your preferences. You may also want to share this planning process with friends and family, so they, too, can plan their futures.

The initiative’s resources engage women as leaders within their families, informal networks, and communities to learn about long-term care, actively plan for a secure future and share what they learn with others. — AARP

We can visit https://decidecreateshare.org, which clearly walks us through the steps we need to take for long-range planning. It is simple, not overwhelming and does not involve a lot of paperwork. All information entered is completely secure and will only be seen by you. There is also a Long Range Care Calculator, which I found very eye-opening.

If you too find these resources empowering and helpful, you can join me and thousands of other women nationwide in taking a #40DayPledge to design the second halves of our lives. By taking this pledge, downloading some planning documents and estimating long-term needs I feel immensely more in control.

Now I can see my future beyond the graduation gowns, and I am getting more comfortable with the view.