It can get corny fast--those ads about what's "priceless." But that's partly the point financial adviser-writer Carl Richards is making in a column that has special meaning for those of us who have grown children who are willing and able to, well, do things with us.
Of course, there's always a price tag attached. Paterfamilias had lunch with a friend who was bemoaning the $100,000 he spent on a two week travel vacation with his six grands, two grown kids and their spouses. Two weeks was too long and exhausting, he said. And whoa! That was a lot of money for a two-week vacation. But his wife--the mother and grandmother of the brood--planned it and was exhilerated by it. She's planning another full-family trip this coming year.
That's one variation on the vacation-with-kids spectrum. But it got PF and me to thinking about trips we've done with our kids. Much shorter and less expensive ones to be sure--like a long weekend in London with Alpha daughter and her family when she was living in Berlin for a year. Here's what we reminisce about: The joy on our granddaughter's face when we took her to see Wicked. Her delight in our luxury hotel abode--a converted railroad terminus at Kings Crossing.
When Uber son and family were in London on a three-month business trip, we met the five of them in Brussels for a few adventurous days--gobbling down Belgian waffles from street vendors, taking a train to Brugge to site-see the Medieval city. One of my vivid memories: When we walked about the main square, eyeing the plethora of chocolate shops lining the streets, our 6-year-old granddaughter was captivated by a chunk of chocolate shaped like a an electric drill, set amidst chocolate hammers and nails. We had to buy it. What happy times. How lucky we were to share them with our children and their children.
The Carl Richards column addressed the value of those experiences and how whatever we spent for them was as important a return on our capital than if we had squirreled that money away in an investment account. There are many points to factor along the spend vs. save continuum. Lots of financial advisers hammer home the priority of saving for retirement. If we're having trouble meeting mortgage payments or have nothing in the till for our retirement years, we would do well to opt for the saving side. But if we have the money and the choice is spend or relentlessly save, we should ease back and invest in experiences that provide memories of time spent with the people we love.
Without experiences to relive in our retirement, we may not have invested our available money wisely. As Richards puts (and punctuates) it,
"Life experiences give you an incalculable return on investment. Every. Single. Time.
Do you have something you want to do with someone you love, and the money to pay for it, and the only reason you’re not doing it is that you have this nagging feeling that you should be saving the money for some vague goal beyond the basic ones you have already articulated for yourself? Spend the money! Then, do it again. And again. And the next time? Spend the money!
Did I mention spend the money?"
Here's a link to carl richards column