We’ve just returned from our family summer holiday, and as my eldest child, Sean, is almost 15, the concept of “18 Summers” is firmly on my mind.
The idea is that from the moment they’re born until they become adults, we have only 18 summers to create magical memories, instil values, and nurture a strong foundation of love and support with our kids. Eventually, as they grow up, children will embark on their own unique journeys, venturing into the world and forging their own paths.
In this finite time, we have the chance to make an indelible impact on their lives and create cherished moments that will last a lifetime. It’s been calculated that, by the time they leave school, you will have already spent 93% of the ‘in-person’ time you’ll ever have with your kids. Don’t waste it.
“To a child, love is spelled T-I-M-E.”Zig Ziglar
Not only children
We spent part of our vacation visiting my family in Scotland. My Dad is 82, and although he’s still going strong, it’s a harsh truth that we’ll only have so many summers left to get together to spend time and create new experiences and memories.
He tells me that he intends to live to be 100, and I wouldn’t put it past him. But even if he is lucky enough to receive his telegram from the King, it means that we’ve only got 18 summers left.
It doesn’t feel like a lot, and the clock is ticking loudly. Tick tock.
The Value of Experiences
In a world that often glorifies material possessions, it’s easy to get caught up in the cycle of consumerism, believing that “things” will bring us happiness – a new car, phone, or laptop.
However, research consistently shows that experiences hold the key to genuine and lasting joy. Investing in shared experiences rather than accumulating material goods fosters stronger connections between family members and cultivates a sense of togetherness that transcends materialism.
The interesting thing about my summer travels is that the most enjoyable experiences we had were quite simple and didn’t cost much;
- Swimming in the sea
- Watching a movie together
- Playing tennis with the kids
- A great conversation over coffee with my Dad in his back garden
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realise they were the big things.”Robert Brault
What’s the Money For?
All well and good, but what has this got to do with financial planning and investing?
A key part of our role as financial planners is to understand what makes our clients tick. What inspires, motivates, and excites you? What is your definition of ‘a life well lived’?
George Kinder is often referred to as the ‘Father of Financial Planning’, and he offers a series of questions to ponder when reflecting on that question;
- Imagine that you are financially secure and that you have all the money you need for the rest of your life. How would you live your life? Would you change anything? What would you do? Let yourself go. Don’t hold back your dreams. Will you change your life, and how will you do it?
- Now, imagine that you visit your doctor, who tells you that you have five to ten years left to live. The good part is that you won’t ever feel sick. The bad news is that you will have no notice of the moment of your death. What will you do with the time you have remaining? Will you change your life, and how will you do it?
- This time, your doctor shocks you with the news that you have only one day left to live. Notice what feelings arise as you confront your very real mortality. Reflecting on your life, on all your accomplishments, as well as on all the things that will remain undone, ask yourself: What did I miss? Who did I not get to be? What did I not get to do?
Take a moment to think about these questions. How would you answer them?
Once you know your unique answers, plans can be created to maximise your chances of achieving everything important to you, and minimising future regrets.
After all, money is simply a tool, an enabler. But it can provide you with the most valuable commodity of all – time to enjoy experiences, and memories spent with people you care about.
Making Memories Last
As time ticks away, we need to make the conscious choice to prioritise experiences and make memories that will outlast any material object. Travelling to new places, engaging in family hobbies, volunteering together, or simply having regular family game nights can create a rich tapestry of shared experiences that strengthen important bonds.
The concept of “18 summers” serves as a poignant reminder of the fleeting nature of our closest relationships and the limited time we have to make a lasting impact on our children’s lives. Or perhaps our grandchildren, parents, or close friends.
By choosing experiences over things, we can create a legacy of joy, togetherness, and love that will be cherished for years to come.
So, embrace the magic moments and life experiences and make every summer count, regardless of the weather!
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