Take Advantage of Grandkids
It seems that many freely use their grandparent card when planning retirement. Applications range from eliminating the embarrassment of downsizing all the way to forcing one’s spouse into maintaining an opulent lifestyle. No one’s motives are ever challenged since we can’t really know another’s inner feelings.
What kind of grandparent are you?
Most of us have had grandparents. Some have less, but some have more than the four normally allotted to us. Remember your favorites and your not so favorites. Depending upon your status, grandchildren can be instrumental in forming retirement plans.
As in the old Sustacal television commercials, we decided to be Sustacal (fit and active) not Ensure (old and sedentary) grandparents. There are many stereotypes. Here’s a few. Do you see people you know?
Doting – These guys seem to love the grands more than they ever did the kids. It makes them so darn happy that we would never think of asking why.
Stern – It seems that these are going to prevent the mistakes they made in the past from happening again.
Fun only with babies – Unable to hold a conversation with growing children, their relationships soon grow distant.
Fun with bigger kids – maturing grandkids develop bonds with these
Stranger with money – Sometimes a very friendly stranger with gifts and no understanding of the grandkid.
City grandparent – This is the grandma that takes her homesteading, home schooled granddaughter to the spa for a makeover and manicure.
Country grandparents – Here’s the grandpa that thinks everything about a city upbringing is devious and wrong.
Favorite grandparents – We all hope to be the favorite, but sometimes “those people” have more influence, or the grandkids just don’t prefer you. If this is a problem and you can’t wait for time to tell, just write their parents out of your will.
Perfect grandparents – Wise and always living an exemplary life, it is more important for these to inspire the grandchildren to become contented, happy adults rather than playthings and topics of conversation.
Some grandparents are in their thirties and some are as old as dirt. These differences can greatly affect a grandchild’s perception of a grandparent.
Playing the Grandparent Card (to define retirement)
Besides the thrill of leaving the workforce, retirement can seem like a menacing journey into a dark dystopian future. Dreading the loss of all purpose and stability in their lives, many desperately grasp at the familiar for relief instead of embracing the unknown. When reflecting on their lives, most people agree that raising children was the most meaningful endeavor of their lives. Replacing an empty nest and an empty life with the involvement of grandchildren is often the easy and logical solution to a frightening dilemma. Before committing to this path, one should be certain, yet also have an exit plan ready.
Some will sabotage a wonderful retirement plan on the selfish excuse of “providing for the grandkids”. These people may be afraid of changing anything in their lives, so this works pretty well until the kids grow up and they need a new plan.
Worse than the provide fors, are the “babysit so mom can work” people. Who said, I want to retire and watch other people’s kids? No one, that’s who. Enjoy retirement and your grandchildren. Let your children enjoy being parents.
My favorite is the “move to be close to the grandkids” strategy. First, offer the out of town kids the temptation of free, unlimited babysitting. Next, you can downsize to your kid’s town. There’s no reason to be embarrassed since your friends will never suspect that the move was to save money. Caution, there is potential for disaster here. Would you like your parents or in laws to move close to you? I’d rather watch my own kids.
“RV grandparents” are on the move. These homeless retirees can visit as much as they like and escape when their welcome is worn out. They can even take the grandchildren on some pretty memorable outings. Warning, some kids may be repulsed at the thought of parents in town for what may be months at a time.
What’s the best plan?
A rebel retiree will always try to find the path with a heart. How much grandchildren affect your plans, should be based on reality and not on panic or wishful thinking. Remember that grandchildren grow and you’ll most likely get older too. Relationships change constantly and too narrow a vision will lead to disappointment. You can’t go wrong if you plan for your own life and accept the added bonus of grandparenting as it comes.