Thursday, July 09, 2009
Gracious Living by Valerie Kent
Gracious Living is an easy-to-read decade-long journey that offers tips and suggestions on how senior citizens can stretch their dollar and get the most for their money. Eleven chapters cover every important aspect of living together, from the wedding preparations to where to live. Key considerations follow each chapter for quick reference: Considerations like where and when to buy clothing, choosing a place to live and juggling your finances. Artist Jeff Nitzberg adds his unique touch with original drawings introducing each chapter.
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We all aspire to the many extras which supposedly make our lives more enjoyable. For some, the list is headed up by second cars, designer clothing, even dining out regularly in expensive restaurants. Where cash is scarce, it demands real discipline to examine spending patterns and determine just what we truly need, then prioritize whatever we merely want. Because money is one of the central issues in any marriage, retiring on a fixed income is likely to increase rather than reduce unavoidable tension over it. Careful planning and thoughtful shopping can help. This can reduce costs (even if our economy worsens) and thereby free up funds for luxuries further down everybody’s wish list. The discipline to follow through with a mutually-agreed-on plan, once made, is tough, but rewarding.
All this requires an investment of time: time, our most available resource. It is hard to change old habits, and an exertion of will is sometimes required to pay attention to details you never bothered about before. Joint planning, joint responsibility and joint action are vital now that you will be spending much more time together. Having that “we” approach is more important than ever to insure graceful living.
Our working years could certainly have benefited from this prescription for a happy life together, but the pressures and urgencies of raising a family and establishing a career often leave couples living quite separate lives. Each partner has had his or her own areas of responsibility, and in practice true collaboration is often lacking. Being forced to strengthen the bond of “we” during a financial squeeze may significantly improve living together in retirement by forcing the reconsideration of older, sloppier patterns.
One of the most difficult tasks is settling on those more urgent, less avoidable priorities. Dealing with the money forces decisions as to whose preference will prevail and facilitates true compromise. Inevitably somebody’s preference gets bumped off the budget. Thos fulfilled golden years are impossible without new level of mutual respect and open communication.
ABOUT VALERIE KENT
At eighty-eight, Valerie Kent is the survivor of a long lifetime spent adjusting to dramatically evolving worlds. She moved from Britain to the United States in 1933. Valerie began at the age of forty-six the drawn-out process of education - seven universities - that would generate, initially, a career as a drug and alcohol counselor for troubled women, then a decade as a celebrated college teacher and - ultimately - a final, exultant marriage. This is her story.