My girl and I were talking the other day about getting old together. We don’t have or want to have children of our own, so it’ll just be us, and I asked her what she thought a Good Life would be.
We ended up in the same place, and here’s what that looks like:
We live in a small place together (1-3 bedrooms)
We watch “shows” together. She enjoys few things as much as sitting on the couch snuggled up with me and consuming a high quality show, like Game of Thrones, or House of Cards, or Downton Abby, and then talking about it as it progresses.
We eat good food together. From fast food to top-end French cuisine we simply enjoy eating in each other’s company. Especially her. So wherever we are, at whatever age, food will be a component.
We’ll travel. The other thing we enjoy is seeing new places and experiencing new things. We often like them for different reasons, but spending a week in Italy or northern England is a top-tier experience for us. Assuming there’s good food involved.
That’s pretty much it: Living together, watching shows, eating food, and some occasional travel.
At the top-end of planning I’m assuming one of two things, either 1) our financial planning is effective (which would give us great income), or 2) any one of my trillion good ideas manifests into something lucrative. The odds of neither happening are not good.
The elegance of this is in its simplicity and scalability. As I said, I plan on having a nice retirement, and she has one as well. Those retirement incomes combined should be fairly substantial.
And what will we do with them, assuming they are quite large?
Live somewhere small
Watch shows together
Eat food together
That’s it. No matter how much money we have, that’s what we’re doing. So let’s take each of them one at a time, starting with the top-tier.
So in an ideal scenario we live somewhere fairly exciting (San Francisco, New York, London, Munich, etc.), with the option to move quickly (we’ll have very few belongings). So we’d just pick up and move to Sydney for a couple of years, or Seattle, or Vancouver.
The key difference here is the location and the quality of the place. The only way we’d have a large place is if it was somewhere out in the country somewhere, which is also something we’ve tossed around as an option. But even then that’d just be a 2-5 year rotation. Mobility is key.
This one is arguably the most important, and it doesn’t change much. I’ll have an 80″ Apple TV (actually made by Apple), and my personal, artificial assistant named Sarah will show us any show or movie we want to see.
The important part is the anticipation of the show and sitting on the couch together “all tangled up”. That’s a level of bliss reached in very few states of the universe.
At this top-end, we have a personal chef and/or will eat all of our meals out. So this person either lives with us, or quite nearby, and does nothing but impress Susan at every meal. Keep in mind, we’re talking about eggs, waffle, and sausage here for the most part—with some top-end meals thrown in for accent.
Again, simple. Even at the high-end.
Travel is the part of the equation that is most income-dependant. We can live most anywhere and be happy (a small apartment in a nice complex, etc.), and it’s fairly easy to hire someone to cook your meals for very little money (and it’ll be even more true in 20 years). But the travel piece will remain expensive.
At the top-end of where I intend to be, we’ll be traveling around four times a year for 1-2 weeks at a time. These will be places like Hawaii, Bali, Costa Rica, Mexico, Italy, Scotland, Croatia, Japan, etc. We’ll be in a resort or a hotel (or with friends) in those places, and it’ll basically be a high-end vacation experience.
This tier assumes that something disrupts our current financial plans and doesn’t give us quite the amount of money we should get, but still gives us a good amount.
In our mid-tier option, we still live in a 1-3 room apartment, but in a suburb of one of the nicer places. Like the high-income option, we could also live in a big place in a suburb, but it’s not likely. 1-3 bedrooms is where we’re most happy.
The main thing we’d be losing here is the ability to live in downtown San Francisco or New York City or London.
This one is very much identical to the high-end, although I suppose at the high-end we could fly around and see plays, operas, and other types of art “shows” that would supplement our time at home.
But the key here is actually the sitting together on the couch, so the other types of input would really fall more into travel than anything.
At the middle tier we’ll still have a personal chef who will make all of our meals, or we’ll eat out. You’ll sense a theme there.
It’s what we do now, except we don’t have a personal chef.
Travel at the mid-tier is still four times a year, but it’s not for 1-2 weeks in the best places in the world. It’s more like a few days in those places, or 1-2 weeks in a slightly lower tier.
The experience would be largely similar (~90%), but that last 10% matters a lot.
This tier assumes something has gone horribly wrong. Susan bet our retirement on blackjack in Vegas (and lost), or the economy crashed, or we put all our money in diamonds under our mattress and a jewel thief takes them. Whatever.
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It assumes we only have a minimal income per month to live off of, temporarily, while I’m again scrambling to get back to mid-tier.
So what would life look like in that scenario?
In our low-tier option, we live in a 1 bedroom apartment in a decent suburb.
Doesn’t change much. The jewel thief didn’t steal my 80″ Apple TV. And again, the key here is actually the sitting together on the couch and being with each other.
This would suck a lot.
We’d have to make some stuff at home. I imagine there are guides on the Internet for how to do that. We’d research it. And our eating out would be limited.
But keep in mind that’s only until I handled some business to get us back to mid-tier.
Travel at the bottom tier would be like once or twice per year. But it’s not even worth talking about, since it wouldn’t last six months anyway.
I’ve purposely left out the most important component of our happy life together, as it doesn’t have a financial component. Wuddle. This is our code word for sleeping together, or “cuddling” (but not anywhere except when going to sleep).
This is our high point in life. Nothing compares to it. Well, let’s say “few things” compare to it.
The point is that this lives at all three tiers, regardless of anything going on around us, and it’s better than eating or traveling. It’s been our most cherished time together for 20 years, and trust me when I say that’s among a strong field of contenders.
Happily, we get to do all of them.
My purpose in putting this to paper is simply to diagram a happiness model for my girl and me. As part of that, I wanted to 1) assign variable levels of achieving it, and 2) simultaneously acknowledge that because wuddle and shows are the key components—it’s really hard to fail.
But documenting it in this way allows us to revisit it, update it, etc., based on continued conversation.
I cannot express how elated I am to spend another 60 years doing these things with her.
We’ll also probably get a dog. We’ve wanted a dog for many years already, but when we’re old we’ll definitely want one. The giving and receiving of simple love is full of pleasure, and it’s enjoyable to share that with your other.
I also don’t like the word “retirement”, really. In reality, I’ll just be working on different things.
Note that our personal goals are different than these. I have many things that I will continue to work on and accomplish, and they’re not listed here. But all those things happen within the framework of “us” shown above.