Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Living the dream...

Hello again! I’m writing this post from Bali, at a beautiful villa, where I’m currently lying in the sun beside the pool with a cold beer. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the other birds are smiling… it’s fantastic. Are you suitably jealous yet?!

One thing is for sure – I need to do this more often. And sitting here reminds me of an article I read in the Guardian the other day - (I don’t read the Guardian regularly, but I do from time to time just to get an idea of what’s going on inside the heads of sanctimonious lefties while they sip their Arabica coffee and nibble on a croissant) – about a palliative nurse who had recorded the most common regrets of the dying.

Slightly morbid? Possibly. But also fascinating, in my opinion, and extremely thought provoking. As the article says, there was no mention of more sex or bungee jumps. The top five, apparently in this order, are:

<!--[if !supportLists]-->1.       <!--[endif]-->I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
<!--[if !supportLists]-->2.       <!--[endif]-->I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
<!--[if !supportLists]-->3.       <!--[endif]-->I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
<!--[if !supportLists]-->4.       <!--[endif]-->I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
<!--[if !supportLists]-->5.       <!--[endif]-->I wish that I had let myself be happier

When you bear in mind that these were extremely common responses from people who had led extremely different lives, it starts to put some things into perspective.

I think it’s very interesting that two of the top three involve regrets about self-honesty – I think it’s very apparent that we live in a world where image, reputation, and status occupy the thoughts of most people for a disproportionately large amount of time. But where does it get you? Ultimately, not very far, apparently.

So does all this have anything to do with finance? Not really. But at the risk of being tenuous, number two on the list above is certainly resonating as I take another sip of ice cold beer. How terrible would it be to spend your life working hard, and not be rewarded with a lifestyle like this – on a consistent basis?

I for one would hate to be forced to keep working, because I couldn’t afford to stop. And I’d hate to be living a life that was anything less than wonderful, after all that hard work. Wouldn’t you agree?

So what’s the solution? Well, working harder wouldn’t really help, according to those about to depart life as we know it. You need to enjoy life as you go, as best you can. But for those fortunate enough to be earning more than they need to give them the lifestyle they enjoy now, there’s a relatively straightforward solution. Just save money…

It sounds simple, but the reality is that most people, particularly expatriates, simply don’t save enough money. Think of it this way – what percentage of your adult life do you want to spend working? When you’ve got that figure, what percentage of your current earnings do you think you need to save for future use? The answer is likely to be more than you’re currently saving.

If that figure looks high, now consider that due to inflation, things will be a lot more expensive in 10/20/30/40/50 years’ time than they are now. It’s absolutely crucial that in addition to simply saving it, you get good advice to make sure it’s both protected and growing.

Please send me an email to arrange an appointment to go through your personal situation and plans in more detail, and if you’ve got a couple of minutes now, have a look at the full article referred to above here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to slide into the sun-drenched pool…

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