A Closed Letter Turned Open Letter to My Boomer Parent
As my mom’s eldest child, the question that I hear the most from her, is “When can I retire?” My response always revolves around her savings, the mortgage that we share, and budgeting her expenses out for post-retirement life. She wants to retire earlier that what I think is currently feasible, and I try to emphasize that there may be no money left in my wallet, when she’s in her 80’s and her grandchildren de-camp for college at $422,000 a pop. She seems to believe that she only needs to plan until she’s 85 (and to be fair, the average life expectancy in the States for a Chinese American woman is 86.1 years).
There have been a couple of essays circulating lately written by Boomers taking care of their Greatest Generation parents, and even though I dislike the tone of these articles, I think about them pretty often. The writers’ parents thought they too would go quickly and cheaply, but this was not the case. My own grandmother spent nearly 2 years in hospice care at the price of $10,000+/month.
I see these essays and my grandmother’s case as cautionary tales for what happens when you live beyond of the number of years that you anticipate. Thus, I sent my mom the brief email below (I purposely put the Sandra Tsing Loh essay first, thinking my mom would identify with her more easily):
From: E Chan
Subject: Long term planning
Here are a couple of essays written by children of elderly parents who are around your age. I think you will find them interesting. You need to plan for 90.