The Realities of Care
I've been waiting for the financial shoe to drop on supporting my parents, and while that time has not come yet, the realities of what it might look like has started to crystallize. My mom visited for 11 days, and spent nearly $3k in that time.
She also shared an interesting fact: having turned 67, she finally qualifies for Social Security and is excited to collect $400/month. When she shared that with me, my financial heart sank with the realization that she would likely require a supplemental $1.5 - $2k/month to make ends meet, and that once my father is no longer able to work her source of 'supplemental' would be me.
My mom will live on $400/month from Social Security.
Fortunately, my parents are in good health and I still have some time to financially prepare for the day when my father is no longer able to work, though as he becomes older the odds of that happening increase.
Putting on my own oxygen mask
Personally, I know that the best case scenario would be for me to take care of myself --- i.e. achieve financial independence (or at minimum CoastFI) before committing to long-term help.
With the realities of my parents' situation setting in (as well as their good health!), I want to plan for the possibility that even at a standard retirement age of 65, my parents could still be alive and well requiring financial support. With that in mind, I'm shifting my financial goalposts to a $6M figure (which generates $240k/year with safe withdrawal rates).
I'm shifting my financial goalposts to $6M
Only after both my parents pass will I consider this extra financial coverage no longer needed. If I maintain similar spending and income levels as the past few years, this means I'd be targeting an early retirement at the age of 55. Still more than a decade earlier than standard retirement age, but nothing extreme from the "FI" community perspective.
Cultivating Memorable Experiences
I love my parents and would like them both to live a long, healthy and happy life. Both my parents sacrificed so much to help me have a better life, and my mom in particular has had a deeply sad and traumatic journey that has left her mentally and emotionally impaired to a degree that makes it very difficult for her to integrate into general society. Originally a city girl in her home country but for decades housebound in the Midwestern suburbs without a drivers license, friends, or full command of English, she craves experiences that speak to her senses and transport her from the doldrums of her limited daily life.
I'll continue to invite my mom to stay with me, wherever I am, a couple times a year for extended periods to give her the opportunity to be independent and see new sights.
In time if my financial outlook looks better than expected, I'd like to also treat my parents to an international trip while they still have their health and mobility.
While financial independence continues to be a goal of mine, I'm adjusting to the notion that lives are (hopefully!) long and that health, vitality, and experiences are what make a rich life -- and that I need to plan for my long-term physical/mental health with the same diligence as my financial health.
Working gives me structure, social vibrancy, and a sense of purpose and impact in the world. There are many, many other ways outside of a full-time job to cultivate these same principles, and I look forward to the day when that balance shifts for me. I just know that right now, I'm not there yet.
Prioritizing a lifestyle and commitments to myself to invest in my health while working is an ongoing battle, but one that I hope to make progress on by year-end.