Aging Single #1: Introducing a Series on Aging, Retiring, and Dying Solo

SOLO | Jessalyn Dean | Aging Single


One question that often comes up for the life-long single is, “But who will take care of you when you are old?” This episode begins a series on aging, retiring, and dying solo. Topics will include the future of aging, estate planning, longevity, navigating end of life, and making aging sexy. Episodes will be released on the first Thursday of the month. In this episode, which begins the series, Jessalyn Dean joins Peter McGraw in the Solo Studio to talk about the series, raise questions, brainstorm topics, and share perspectives. If you want to request topics or raise questions, you can do so as part of the Solo community: https://petermcgraw.org/solo

Listen to Episode #207 here


Aging Single #1: Introducing a Series on Aging, Retiring, and Dying Solo

We’re testing this again.

Testing round two.

We’re going to talk about dying

Body Farms.

I don’t even know what that means.

You’re in for a treat.

I’m happy to have a friend from a previous guest back in the show. You’ll recognize her from the Dating App episode, the longest solo episode and the Aromanticism episode.

It’s my personal favorite.

That gets a lot of play in chat rooms and message boards. People have come to the show because people were talking about being asexual or aromantic and then there’s like, “This was covered in SOLO. I’m happy.” We have a big tent and I think this might be the most important episode I’ve done in a long time and also a very popular one that gets forwarded a lot The Relationship Design episode.

I love that episode and it’s also relevant to our discussion in this episode in some ways, creativity and design of relationships as we age.

We do an episode that is long, but it’s super tight.  It’s highly prepared. This is not going to be one of those episodes.

It could be chaotic.

The plan is this is going to be the first episode of a series on Aging Retiring and Dying Solo. You as a young person have given this a lot of thought and me as a middle-aged person is starting to give it some thought. I wanted to record this before I formulated a plan for the series in order to talk about some of the topics, perspectives issues and help me start to formulate my thinking about and then I can find the right guests and so on.

We’re exploring a roadmap.

One of the things I want to specially do is find a novel approach to aging retiring and dying solo. That is To give people a new perspective. There are some books that have been written about it. There’s conversation. I want to either curate these ideas in a new way or even come together with a completely novel approach.

Largely, the approach that we’re is that aging retiring and dying is done as a couple. The worst thing in life could be dying alone. That’s a very sad outlook. Can we find a more upbeat outlook is something I’m interested in.

There’s a chance this turns into my next book, but I haven’t felt like I have the right road map. I haven’t locked it in yet. For example, if we’re going to play the the solo perspective on this, it’s looking for the opportunities of aging, dying and retiring. It’s looking at the novelty of it. There’s a different way to go about doing it and the existing set of rules may not work for you. That’s my hazy perspective. It’s certainly my goal.

It’s important that readers react to this episode particularly and give you feedback because we’re brainstorming, and you want to get more insights on how did you react to that? What do you think of it? It helps you like flesh out the road map a bit more?

Thanks for saying that.

People should take notes.

Please feel free if you’re not already member of the Solo Community to join at PeterMcGraw.org/Solo. We have a channel which is about episode discussions. I love those reactions. People point out blind spots. They say what they like. They often will share their own personal experience. Let’s be honest, we don’t have full information. We’re both alive. We don’t know that much about dying. We’re both actively working. We’re not living in retirement and yes, we’re aging, but we haven’t experienced the full range of the effects of aging.

We are population 2 of 2.

Discussing Aging

I want to hear from people. The way I envision this is each of these three things, I’ll bring up and then I think we can have a Jessalyn and Peter-style conversation around them. Let’s start with aging. That seems to make sense because you may or may not retire, but you’re certainly going to be aging.

I like to think about aging in terms of both the effects on my body. What I can and cannot do any longer, as well as my mental state. I think that the program that we’re given, the template that society largely sells to us, insurance companies, financial advisors and the government sells to us ps that once you reach a certain age, everything is downhill. That’s simply not true. You can change that narrative. It’s important to explore what are the alternatives to that narrative and then how can you change it for yourself? One thing that comes to my mind for example is when I see people that have gone back to university in their ‘60s or ‘70s and people will say, “Why bother? Why would you do that? What are you going to use that for?”

That narrative is that whole downhill. You stop being useful after a certain age. In reality, there’s no rule that says you have to stop having hopes and dreams. You can want to start a business at 70 or 80 years old. They’re certainly modifications. You have to make to a plan, but that fits in the mental capacity of hopes and dreams. I think the physical about aging is there is the practical reality that your body changes as you age. but I hear a lot of messaging from society that it is what it is and you need to get the best parts in early because later in life, you’re not going to want to do those things. If you take care of your body, treat it well and you think about your future body, it’s not always, “It’s too late to change.” There’s always today. I want to be hiking mountains when I’m 80 years old probably a little bit less than I do now. There’s the practical reality. Those are the two branches that I think of.

I want to reflect a few things back as I hear this. I’ve read this. It had a profound effect on me. This book is called Younger Next Year. It’s a book written for people in their 60s. It’s an author and his doctor. It’s a little bit of a conversation between the two of them. The thing that I took away from that book is that do not confuse aging and decay. To your point, there are some things that are inescapable. Our skin becomes less elastic. Our hair becomes gray. Men especially tend to lose it. Your teeth get more yellow.

SOLO | Jessalyn Dean | Aging Single
Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond

You will hit menopause at some point.

There are some things that are inescapable. You can get a hair transplant if you want. You can whiten your teeth and moisturize extra. For the most part, this is just a physiological change that is inescapable, but what people often think of as aging is decayed because they’ve stopped using their body and caring. They have become sedentary. Maybe they drank like they used to, but because they’re older, it’s a young person’s game. Drinking is not an old person’s game or having a little too much dessert. They’re not getting after it the way they want to.

The emerging research on this is crystal clear, which is ideally you are moving your body in a vigorous fashion on a regular basis. You’re walking a lot, but then you’re also perhaps sprinting or doing another dynamic exercise. That could be running around a tennis court or something like that. You’re also lifting some weights. You’re stressing your muscles. What’s shocking is that a person’s tendency to exercise is highly predictive of how good their older ears are. The nice thing is that you can pick that stuff up later and your body will still respond. It’s ideal if you start sooner.

It’s never too late. Today is better than yesterday.

There’s research on 80-year-olds who start weightlifting programs and how it reshapes their body and then puts them at much less risk of like a broken hip, for example. The data on this stuff is if you break your hip, it’s 30% mortality rate within three years.

This is an issue in my family. A line of women with bad hips, broken hips, multiple hip replacements. My mother and grandmother. There’s a huge long line of this. It concerns me. It’s funny when I’m standing around waiting for something, I just start squatting. I will lower my body to the ground sit there wiggle around for a little bit stand up because I want to keep my hip on top.

There’s a whole bunch of things that follow from this. What needs to happen is you need to start moving as soon as possible, as soon as it’s safe to do that. You need to start building up those muscles and all that stuff, but a lot of the healthcare system is not interested in you lifting weights. They want to put you in a wheelchair because it’s easier to deal with you and it’s you’re at less risk of anything else happening, but this moment you make someone sedentary.

Aging As A Solo Person

Another interesting maybe relevant lens to solo is the concept of aging both physical and mental change when you’re a solo person.

I Would like to think yes in one way potentially good and in another way potentially bad. Let me talk about the bad first and get it out of the way, which is as you get older it becomes increasingly easy as a solo to be isolated. You get into your habits. You can often become very comfortable with your alone time, not leaving the house, you got this stuff under control and then what happens is your friends start to die. The person who you had your weekly phone call or walk with, you played cards with or whatever it is now is not around anymore.

You have less reason to get up and leave.

When you have a partner, and the person may be annoying as hell, but at least you have someone who helps motivate you. There are things to do and they’re like, “Come on. Let’s take a vacation. Let’s go to the supermarket together and so on.” the advantage that the escalator Riders have over that person who gets isolated can be substantial. The flip side of course is the solo who’s engaged with life is continuing building new friendships, being involved in the community and doing all these things. By contrast, the couple can be isolated.

They’re not putting in the work to meet other people and then when one of them dies, they have nothing.

They’re in trouble. The solo who is comfortable with their solitude and self-reliant but yet still connected has this great advantage. They have a diverse group of friends. They’re involved in the community.

Cycling more people as some die off.

I’m proud that I have younger friends. I hope to continue to have younger friends.

It’s funny one of my hiking friends when I lived in Ireland is 30 years older than me and everyone always thought our friendship was odd, but I’m like, “We love hiking together. The age doesn’t matter.” You reach a certain point in your life where you just have friends of all ages. In your early 20s, you’re like, “It’s weird to have a friend who’s 60 years old,” but then when you get to your 30s, you’re like, “Nope, it’s totally normal.” To bounce off of what you offered there as well, it’s a downside. It’s a thing that has to be adapted.

That’s the right way to say. It’s a potential point of friction. It’s something to be aware of. None of this is a short thing.

To that point, I’m a solo from a romantic sexual perspective. I don’t want to live with a romantic or sexual partner. I’m solo from the perspective of children. I don’t have them and I don’t want them, which means when I reach a certain age my physical capabilities to do certain things around the house, climb stairs, open cabinets, lift things, you have the Amazon package of cat litter that was delivered hauled into the house are more difficult for me to do by myself. I don’t have children or grandchildren that I can call and be like, “Could you come over and do that thing, help me with that thing or get the box?”

It’s that support network of people that you can call on, but that’s not the end of the story that solos I think by our design just like what you described were intentionally out there making all these friendships that you might age living alone, but we might age living together. I have a number of solo friends that have signed up for my waitlist of the house that I’m going to have when I’m older and we’re going to live together.  We’re going to be friends that cohabitate together. We’re going to be roommates.

There’s that practical reality of, “If we pool enough of us into a house together, we can hire someone that comes by and helps us with things whether it be medical care, packages or cleaning.” We have this vision of solos being alone, but when we’ve had a solo perspective a good chunk of our lives and we’ve built up all these friendships and relationships around us, I don’t envision a world where I’m in my 80s or 90s all by myself.

I’m going to hang on as long as I can. I’m going to fiercely pursue my ability to live alone. At least that’s what I anticipate. Maybe I’ll change. I listen to this podcast by a cross CrossFit coach, but it’s a lot about wellness and fitness. He always talks about how you’re training to be able to pick up your grandkids. He’s a family man and so on, but you learn are training to pick up your cat litter. The idea is that you want to try to prepare for a future that has a long health span. I talk about this on occasion now and it’s becoming very important to me is yes, you want to live a long life. What you want to live is a good life. Merely staying alive is a pretty low bar nowadays.

Quality ever quantity.

How do you create a help a healthful life, a life in which you can climb stairs and a life in which you can get yourself off the toilet, a life in which you can bring the cat litter in and so on for as long as this reasonable given good or bad fortune and your genetics and pre-existing conditions and on right? Not everybody has the same likelihood, but I’m training for 80 now. I think about how my decisions now will affect my life 30 years from now.

Psychology Of The Future Self

I’m glad you segued into this point, a recommendation for your research your homework. You’re going to do part of your chapter. Is the psychology of the future self? Psychologists have researched this concept. You’ll be interested to read about it. I am a fan of the research will summarize what it is here for reader. The psychology of the future self is this idea that humans are psychology has a hard time imagining that there’s some other future version of ourselves.

This distant person.

They’re typically a stranger to us. This impacts our ability to make good financial choices and health choices. The financial ones lend more to the retirement conversation, but the health choices is about the aging conversation. The way it plays out is when I choose to eat the fruit over the chocolate, today’s version of me isn’t going to notice a difference. If I continually every day make bad food choices or bad exercise choices, it’s affecting a future version of me that doesn’t exist yet. In our mind, it’s like this stranger like if I have chocolate versus fruit in front of me and there’s someone on the street that’s a complete stranger. I know that my choice of one or the other is going to impact that person out there, the connection doesn’t make its way into my choice. I’m like, “They’re a total stranger.”

The psychology of the future self is looked at conceptually how do we make decisions, but then the more interesting question is, “How do you overcome that psychology? How do you create enough of a relationship with this future version of yourself so that you make Good healthy choices today that they’ll thank you for later?”

The way to think about this is like you go out drinking you’re making decisions that can affect yourself in the morning. You have to have some empathy and connection to that person in the morning to not have that extra drink. This gets even more important for that person 30 or 40 tears down the line. The research you’re referring to is done by two friends of mine, Dan Bartels and  Hal Hirschfeld. I’ve had both of them sit in on my seminar. I have a PhD seminar I’m teaching. They have this very fun and interesting way to do this where they take a photo of you and then they age it they show you a picture of yourself. It looks like you but 30 years older. Your hair is gray or you have more wrinkles whatever. They find that when people are exposed to that future version of themself, they’re able to connect to it.

It feels like a friend.

It feels like you. There’s this downstream consequence versus this very psychologically distant fellow or person that’s there.

There’s a woman that I’ve spoken to before who is a PhD in Financial Literacy topics He told me that a friend of hers from the savings perspective in this psychology issue. She has a savings account at the bank or an investment account. She’s named the future version of herself. If I’m Jessalyn, I might name my future version Jane. She’s a friend, and then on the savings account, it’s like, “Jane’s savings account.” She’s created more of a relationship of treating it like a friend because some people treat their friends better than they do themselves. It depends on the person. She gives them a name and puts their name on the savings account. It’s clever.

Whatever you can do to get Yourself invested in your future self whether that be making plans for the future that you have to be. You’re like, “At 75, I’m going to do this hike,” or whatever it is that you have that plan that keeps you, “I got to start working on it now.” I want to reach back to something that you mentioned earlier. There’s obviously the physiological stuff and some of it’s inescapable. Some of it is surprisingly not. I joke that the world’s never seen 50-year-olds like exist nowadays. There’s a photo you can find on the internet about the cast of Cheers. It has their pictures and their ages. The ages are shockingly low. It’s like a coach is like 55 or something like that. Coach looks like an old 70-year-old man in this thing.

If you think about old Hollywood actors and so on, once they get into their 50s, they look like old men. Why do they look like old men? They didn’t work out. They smoked, drank and ate bad food. You’re like, “If you don’t work out, smoke, drink and eat bad food, it’s going to turn you into an old person prematurely”, but if you are working out eating well getting the right amount of sun, sleeping well, not drinking and not smoking, you can keep it pretty tight for a long time and have a good amount of energy. All the stuff is like a flywheel.

If you have energy, then you can work out. If you work out, you have energy. If you have energy, you can take on new hobbies. If you take on new hobbies that opens your mind to new things. Once you get this flywheel spinning, it continues to spin. It’ll slow down some because you don’t have as much energy at 70. You are getting a funk and so on, but you can bounce back from those things a lot more. There’s also a cultural conversation which you mentioned that aging is bad. Young is good and old is bad again. That means that as you get older, your life is becoming less good. I think the list of ways that your life can become better as you get older is quite long.

We don’t hear about it.

We don’t talk about wisdom, financial security, confidence, understanding yourself, the skill development that you have, or the rich broad connections that you’ve developed over a lifetime. I feel like I’m peaking right now. Not any one part of me is not all the parts I say like. There’s a physical, intellectual, financial, social and spiritual. Those five things. Not all of them are at their peak. I’m not peak physically like I was many years ago, but when I look across all of those things, that five-dimensional space is the maximum it has ever been. It has the potential to keep going up if I continue to keep growing.

It could be a false peak. This fits in well with one of the frameworks I’ve built that my friends love hearing about. They helped me form it and so did the psychology of the future self. When I started reading these papers and listening to these podcasts, I started using words when I told stories with friends like the previous version of Jessalyn back in an earlier version of me and I think I’ve even used some language like this when we talked about Aromanticism and me today versus me and my twenties, that’s a previous version of and that we go through between potentially 5 and 10 versions of ours in our life. You typically don’t know that you’ve entered a new version until you’re in it you look back and go, “I’m in a new version.”

A friend of mine once said to me, “It’s interesting when you tell stories about these old versions of yourself because I didn’t know them. I know you now.” It’s quite jarring to think, “She used to think this other way. I just know this version,” and she asked me, “How many versions have you been through?” I said, “That’s great. Let’s inventory them.” I won’t walk through all of them, but I will say the quantity is that I’m in the fifth version of myself.

I easily have 5 or 10 more versions of myself. I say this is your comment about peak, I don’t love that language when people only think that they have one version of themselves, which psychology lends us to only think like, “This is it. This is the final version.” When you talk about the world in terms of a peak you think, “If this is as good as it gets, it’s all downhill from here,” when in reality, each version can have a peak. I’m in my fifth version and each version had a peek in it and then I entered a new version. I’m a different person. There’s a thread that ties them all together in some way.

Your spine is still the same.

I encourage the use of the word peak because I think it tells us something, but I just discourage thinking about the peak is only being one and that everything’s downhill from that back to my point that you’re never too old to have hopes and dreams. Go back to school. Start a new job start an entrepreneurial endeavor. Learn to play the violin even if you’re 80.

This perspective about growth, there’s going to be some decay, your hair is going to fall out, it’s going to become gray and so on but that doesn’t mean you can’t continue to grow. One of the things I’ve been honing in on and then we’ll wrap talking about aging more generally is I’ve started using this language. I’ve been doing a little gratitude journaling. It’s an intervention that does help people’s well-being. The typical thing is you write down three things that went well and why each day ideally, but I do a little half-hazard.

What works for you.

The idea behind it is 1) It tunes you into good things in life, even when you’re in a little bit of a funk, they’re still good things that are happening and the why tunes you into how to replicate that. For example, you could say, “I had the loveliest interaction with the cashier. It’s a supermarket. Why did that happen? It was because I made a joke. I smiled and made a joke.” That lit her up and we had this fun playful thing. You are like, “It wasn’t just random that I had a positive interaction. I hand in it. Now I can look to have a hand in it in other types of interactions.”

I’ve caught myself saying and even saying to other people, “I was alive today.” I’ll say a friend will tell me a story, I was like, “You were alive today, not living, not existing, not surviving, but you were alive like you experienced a full range of emotions, you had something special happen.” There’s this idea about how to create a remarkable older life is that notion of like, “How do I find those moments where I feel human? I feel alive. I’m hustling with life. It doesn’t always have to be good.” It doesn’t have to be joyous, but you’re like, “This was not just a run-of-the-mill day. “

Reflecting on that for myself, you can’t research that. You can’t just Google, “How can I feel alive?” You have to go out there, do things and then when you feel alive, you write it down.

“I was alive today.”

Don’t feel like this is like some homework assignment. You just have to experience it, write it down and then check back into it to say, “That thing made me feel alive. That thing,  not so much. How can I get more of that thing in my life in a quantity that I want?” My life is a bit chaotic. I almost feel too alive too much.

This a conversation just when I was having offline about you can have two problems. You don’t get enough relaxation or rest. Rarely does someone spend the day on the couch watching TV and then right in their journal, “I was alive today.” I did a trip to New York City and I brought together three friends from three different parts of my life, and we went to a Russian bath. All three of them have separately said to me that was special.

Optionality As An Aging Solo

We did a Schmitz. We sat around half naked, and talked about life, what we were up to, who we were and what we were doing. We went and did a cold plunge, and then we went into the infrared sauna then we didn’t the cold room. We moved through the space. It was like you felt alive. You jump into the cold plunge. You’re not just existing, you are alive. I talked about this on previous episodes how as solos, we have so much optionality that we tend to not recognize.

We don’t take advantage of it.

My joke is, “I could go to the airport tomorrow.” I could clear my weekend, go to the airport and buy a ticket at the airport and go anywhere. We don’t tend to do that very often because we’ve got our rituals. We have our habits and we often aren’t thinking big enough about this stuff. As you get older sometimes you have more opportunity to do that because if you’ve achieved some financial security, for example, you’re the means to do it. If you’ve been able to retire, you’re free from work, you have the time to do it. I’m not suggesting people go to the airport and do something like that, but I’m saying is to remind yourself that it’s just very easy culturally to rinse and repeat this very mundane life the works for you. There’s nothing about culture that’s trying to shake you out of it. No one wants an old people misbehaving and getting after it. The movie Cocoon, an old movie in the ‘80s about these old people who got reinvigorated.

One alternative to this alive thing because I loved what you described as this example for you, which was like this ice bath and in this moment, I had an experience that made me feel alive and it was playing a Dr. Mario video game. I have a friend who recently moved to Denmark. I went to visit her for the first time and spontaneously worked out to go to visit her home. I stayed with her for 4 or 5. She’s been dating somebody new. He was over for the evening and she was going to make dinner. She’s cooking in the kitchen and he says to me, “Have you ever played Dr. Mario video game?” I was like, “Like Nintendo?” “Yeah.” I said, “I was probably obsessed with it when I was a kid, but I haven’t played that game in 25 years. I don’t even remember how to play it.” He was like, “Do you want to play it?” I said, “Yeah.”

He boots up to the projector. Gets out the video game controllers me, her and him the three of us sit around in the living room having this High adrenaline video game experience. I immediately remembered the game and was spanking him. I was murdering him and he was in shock. He’s screaming. I’m like racing to kill him. It’s a mundane video game but something I hadn’t done in 25 years. It was this playful moment of 3 adults becoming 14 years old again.

It felt alive and then it was followed by me and my friend explaining to him the boyfriend how nourishing our friendship with each other is. The ability for us to tell him how much we admire each other and our friendship and how much value we get from each other made me feel alive. It was just words. It wasn’t an activity or dunking myself in cold water. Being alive can mean a lot of different things. In that moment, it was playful being fourteen years old again, eating popcorn out of a bag and telling my friends how much I loved them.

That’s wonderful. You’re the first person I’ve talked to about this idea. I’m not sure the language is right. I’m not sure that word is the right way to do it. I think it captures the essence, but there may be another way to do it. If you’re reading and you have language that you’re willing to share with me, please send it to PeterMcGraw.org/Solo. Join this whole Community. Let us know or drop me a message via the contact form because I think that there’s something there and I agree with you. I thought about it a lot in like childlike terms.

Think about what is we do to children. What does life do to children? Children are alive. They’re curious. They laugh. They cry They’re filled with wonder. They play and make mistakes. They have this just wondrous sense of curiosity and growth. What we do is we sit them in a seat and ask them to be still for 30 hours a week, then we over-schedule them and put them in these rigid structures about games, jobs, school and so on. We beat the Curiosity out of them.

The playfulness.

We beat the excitement out of them. I’m trying to bring this out in my class when I teach with my undergrads like, “How do I make the class fun and exciting?” versus, “Now we’re going to do this,” routine. My sense of this is that as you get older and you can release yourself from work in particular, there’s a chance to reboot that sense of wonder, excitement and tussling with the world because you have a little more freedom and because you can have a little bit of like FU.

You can look into this or dispute me, but I think from what I know is that there is evidence to suggest from the health of your body and your brain and habits are good, going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every night is good for your health. Your example of, “I could just go on to the airport and fly anywhere I want,” is disruptive to the habits that can lead to good body health. You can look for moments of playfulness while still maintaining the habits that are good for you.

You need a strong foundation. There’s no doubt about that. You can’t disrupt your life so much that you’re in a constant state of this disequilibrium.

That’s where I am physically. I’m flying around too much. I’m traveling too much. My daily habits are out of whack. I don’t always feel alive in some of the things I’m doing because I am exhausted from not having good day-to-day habits.

I had an idea. I have the opposite problem sometimes and that is I’m regimented. My life turns into Groundhog Day. It’s just rinse and repeat. What I need to do is I need to do get on a plane, go on a road trip or do something that disrupts that rhythm and shakes me out because I like my rhythm, but when I do it 40 straight days, I feel a little bit autonomously. I think about the movie Groundhog Day there might be like a fun little anecdote or story like if you think about the Bill Murray character in the movie Groundhog Day. If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s good. You should see it. It’s good where he gets stuck in the same day over and over again in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, this small town thing.

It’s a good movie, but I will warn you there are some parts of it that have not held up real good in society agree.

Going Into Retirement

It doesn’t it hasn’t fully aged. The premise is a fun premise and I don’t want to spoil it but you have a choice which is to have this malaise living this boring day over and over again or turn this day into something wondrous. It’s fun. There’s something in that idea. Let’s talk about retiring and aging are correlated. There’s no escaping in aging, at least some elements of it. Retiring can take on different forms. The ideal scenario is that you no longer need to work. You don’t need to work to support yourself anymore.

You do not rely on your physical labor to bring in income to pay for your living expenses.

Some places are better at supporting retirement, places that have generous social safety nets or have pensions other places you have opportunities because you can invest in your retirement and some places in the world, your best chance of retiring is through family. You have other people who are going to support you. I recognize that there are different limits to people’s ability to do that. Given your work, you think a lot about retirement.

I do, and especially as a solo person. When I thought about retirement in my twenties, I thought it was the template that all of society, AARP and insurance companies tell us that one day there’s this moment where you reach retirement and then everything goes downhill from there and you stop working. What retirement is financial independence? That’s how I like to define retirement. It’s that I could still be earning money, but I don’t have to. In reality, what I think of as retirement is not stopping working. That’s not part of my definition of retirement at all.

I like this idea and I haven’t articulated it well, but it’s, “Retirement is when you get to do what you want to do, how you want to do and when you want to do it?” That could mean continuing your job. You don’t have to do it, but you choose to do it.

It brings you value and you want to. Imagine, Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett, two people that could clearly have retired years ago. Charlie Munger is 99 years old and he’s still running Berkshire Hathaway with Warren Buffett. He was on a podcast the other day. I saw it come across my LinkedIn. By all accounts, he could have retired a long time ago. They are the richest men in America, but they don’t because they value working.

He’s a powerhouse.

They love working. It brings them value.

It’s part of the reason there’s still alive because they h

One of the things for your series is to look at what do people do in retirement and then how their view change? For example, one study that I’ve looked at in the UK looked at the number of people that returned to work after retirement, the quantity of people and I forget what the quantity is. What I was more interested in was the reasons that they returned to work.

It’s a non-trivial amount of people who retire and then go back.

A very large significant amount of them go back to work because it’s the value. They value contributing something. They like working, waking up, producing something or innovating something or even interacting with with colleagues and young people. It keeps them young and fresh because they get to go work with younger people. The funnier statistic is the percentage of people who retire and go back to work because they can’t stand being around their spouse all the time.

When I did my first book The Humor Code,  my co-author Joel Warner and I went to Japan to look at these cross-cultural differences in comedy. We had this meal with an American comedian, this blonde woman. I want to say her name is Spring Day or something like that. She speaks Japanese. She would do comedy in Japanese. She has a fascinating character. She’s lovely. She tells the story that there’s a phenomenon with the Housewives. There are Japanese housewives very traditional. The company man works very long hours. The housewives raise the kids, and takes care of the meals, the house, etc., One day the husband retires and their life is completely turned upside down. Suddenly, this man who she barely ever sees like sleep in the same bed, but he works all the time, is now sitting on the couch and watching TV because he has no other Hobbies or anything like that.

SOLO | Jessalyn Dean | Aging Single
The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny

All of his friends are probably at work if he has any friends.

This disrupts her. He’s referred to it as this form of trash lying around the house. This is according to this comedian. I have no reason to not believe it. She start to put together a plan to do her husband in, not to kill him by poisoning him but rather always making sure his whiskey glasses filled making sure that he always has cigarettes available. When she makes the meal, he gets the fatty part of the stake and she gets the lean part of the steak. She basically wishes this guy was dead.

That might be relatable for people who all a sudden got trapped with their spouse at home at the beginning of COVID.  It’s like, “I can’t be around this person all the time.”

The idea behind this is that people work for the money, but they work for a whole lot of other things. They work because it’s part of their identity, making the world better and they have friends at work. The best predictor of retention at a job is, “Does your best friend work at the same job?” If you think about it, retirement is a cultural invention. Hunter-gatherers, no retirement, you still contributed to the tribe.

You may did in a different way given your maybe limitations, but when we worked on farms, and we worked in factories doing backbreaking work, at some point of time, especially if you ate bad and drank and smoked, your body just broke down. You are going to need to stop working. Now you might want to stop working because there are annoying things about your job or because you don’t want to work. 50 hours a week or whatever it is, but it may doesn’t mean that you don’t want to socialize with me. You don’t want to contribute to the world. It doesn’t mean that you don’t want to see your friends. Retirement ought to be about changing what you need to do and allowing you to do what you want.

Two reactions. One is short. One is a little bit longer story. The first one is there are also things that people might have wanted to do as a profession but that pay very little. They never pursued that profession because they’re like, “I need to pick the job that’s got the higher income.” When you reach retirement, now is your chance to go do that other job. Even if it’s in a volunteer position, I would still call that work saying, “I retired. Now I volunteered.”  “No, you work. You just don’t get paid for it and it brings you value.” You don’t need to diminish its value by saying, “It’s just volunteering.” No, it’s still work. Now you get to do the thing that you otherwise have chosen to do as a career if it had paid better.

The second thing and I give this as some homework to you to verify its truth, but it logically makes sense to me. I interviewed someone for a podcast a couple of years ago on this topic and that’s why I recall the story. In the United States, the concept of retirement was an early 1900s invention because you had workers on Factory lines. Let’s say it was like a Ford Motors or something where they’re doing labor jobs. As they got older, they still needed money coming in the door to pay the rent and food as you do And it was these companies that started creating the concept of a pension and paying people to stop working because as they got older, their productivity was reduced and they were not producing the level of output that they needed. They needed to bring young people.

They were basically paying off people to stop working so that they could hire in younger people and be like, “If we just give you some money to live on so that we can get rid of you and hire younger people, we can increase our productivity.” The concept of retirement was created for that reason, but over idealize the concept that everyone deserves to retire and it’s the total objective. If you don’t have some vision of retirement one day, then you live this horrible awful terrible life and why bother saving money if you’re never going to retire anyway. I think, “If like working, and most people do that fine.” I’m sure there’s someone out there there are certainly people out there that would rather not work and maybe they want to sit on a beach and drink a cocktail all day and do nothing. By and large, that’s not most people.

In the book I have this Foundation Flourish Model that I talk about. The elements of foundation we’ve talked about, one good health. We’re talking about another one right now about wealth and the other one is connection. These are like if you want to survive you need these three things. They’re essential to well-being. Once you’ve achieved some success within those, it becomes a leaping-off point for a remarkable rich life pursuing creative endeavors, for example, or living a life with purpose where you’re doing meaningful.

It doesn’t have to be meaningful work per se but meaningful things meaningful tasks or pursuing achievement, wanting to to run a marathon in your 60s or having a more pleasurable enjoyable life. Maybe it is sitting on the beach and enjoying a daiquiri and so on. The point about it is that there’s no one remarkable life, there’s all these remarkable lives. As Charlie Munger demonstrates, his is a life of engagement and achievement and that’s what fuels him.

Bringing value to other people.

People can say, “It’s creating wealth,” but people invest in that fund. Their ability to retire is connected to the stock price of Berkshire Hathaway. This is serious business. It requires attention, hard work and critical decisions. Just because he’s in his 90s doesn’t mean he can’t do that. Charlie Munger’s probably alive because he views his day-to-day as essential to the goodness of a bunch of people’s lives.

I think that there’s I mean I’m invigorated by this conversation. One of the things that is starting to stand out is that laying this information out and getting people to start planning for life and busting some of the myths and assumptions associated with these elements of your later years is important. It can be empowering for someone to go, “Maybe I don’t have to retire. Maybe I could choose a second career in my 60s or 70s. It would be okay for me to work for no money because it’s good for the world.”

That’s the vision that I see. I plan to retire five years from now. That will be somewhere in my 40s when that happens. I plan to become financially independent rather than retire because I will keep working but I will get to choose what I work on and not be driven by a need to make money from it, but because I want to do it. That allows me to advise startups that can’t afford to pay me and be like, “That’s okay. You don’t have to pay me. I want to see you succeed. I like your product. I think you’re good people.” Now I get to help you do that. That’s what a lot of Angel Investors are they’re people that became financially independent. They’ve got extra money laying around and they can donate it to people who are solving important problems, not donate it, but invest it and people who are solving a lot of problems.

A lot of times, it’s the donation. They might offer some practical advice. There’s this desert island phenomenon like when you’re in the thick of it, when you’re in just the mock and you’re tired. For me, it’s the middle of the semester and you’re just grinding it out. You can have these fantasies about live a simple life on a desert island, the Jimmy Buffett’s you know songs and all this thing. I know myself. If I was in like Margaritaville after two weeks, I’d be opening my own bar.

I was going to say two hours.

I’d be opening my own bar to compete. I’d be like, “This place is not right. I could do this better.” The next thing I know, I’d be in the mock and back in it because that’s the way I’m wired and that’s what I like to do.

Solve important problems.

I enjoy solving problems I am excited about getting to a point in life where I can tell people to F off.

I can turn down work because I say, “I’m not interested in doing that. I’m not doing interested in doing it for you.”

“On this timeline. I don’t want to write that. I want to write this.”

You have a choice. That’s all it does.

I think that’s a very exciting thing. Before we turn to the last topic, there’s this tale of two seniors. There are the seniors who were honing in on right the person who’s been taking care of business. They’re taking care of their health and saving for retirement, keeping their burn rate low and they’re reaching financial independence at a time when they’re still youthful even if they’re not technically young. They get to leverage that into a very exciting 4th, 5th, 7th, 10th, 25th or whatever chapter in life. There’s the other senior and this is the one that I’m hoping. It’s the one that I want to write the book for in the following ways to keep to get people going at your age at my age.

It’s never too late.

Say, “What can you start to do now that’s going to get you closer to being that other style of senior?” I think it’s sad if someone you know manages to stay alive. Ricky Gervais has this skit with this old woman and they are interviewing this old woman. She’s basically like, “I just want to die like.” It’s the bit. They’re asking her about being 100 years old and she’s like, “It’s terrible. I hate it.”

“I’m over it.”

That’s why I mean existing surviving is not the goal. I’d rather burn out and die a little younger than live a long boring life.

The quality over quantity.

I feel very comfortable saying that. I may change my mind, and that’s easy perhaps to say.

Yes, when you’re not right up to the finish line.

I’m like, “If you give me the choice of this robust life, this healthy, happy, vigorous and remarkable or this other life that’s ten years longer, but it’s pretty mundane, I’m going to choose the first one.

Practical Number Game

One more thing maybe before we move on is circling back to being solo, there’s the practical number game that to combined amounts of money is easier than just one because there are fixed costs that exist whether you’re o1 or 2 rent. That’s a big number. You can add a second person for a nominal additional amount. The couple and the children’s situation is a privilege. They’re going to get tax and other Financial benefits from being couples or having children.

There are over 1,000 legal benefits in the United States for married people.

When you die your partner can take on your your social security benefit. As a single person, I can’t donate my stream to you if I die. It just disappears. I think about the financial side as I’m trying to make it that I could survive on my own because I like that backup, but the practical reality is I’m going to combine forces with friends. love that we live in a world today increasingly. I wouldn’t say it’s totally common but increasingly single mothers are moving in with each other and raising their children together because it takes a village.

I love that we’re in a society where this is more and more acceptable, common and celebrated. It’s not just accepted but celebrated. We have spent the last decades more and more moving towards individualism. You’re not a fully formed adult unless you have moved out of your parents house, you have 1 car, 1 washing machine, 1 refrigerator, 1 lawn mower or 1 chainsaw, maybe not the chainsaw. I love moving back towards community sharing.

It doesn’t need to be some creepy weirdo commune. Finding a neighborhood where you can knock on your neighbor’s door and borrow the thing and get help with watching the cats, dog or kids and maybe even moving in together and sharing expenses, that to me is a solo life. I know you like the perpetual bachelorhood and you would like to continue living by yourself. There’s a future version of you that might want a little couple of roommates around. I live solo right now, but I’m also open to seeing a future where I live with people that I’m compatible to live with.

My version of this is and I’ve talked about this with friends is that we all get apartments in the same building. I also can appreciate that there’s a home gold girl style.

Golden Girls is exactly what I call it. I have a waiting list.

I know people who are planning this and doing it. The good old days weren’t that good, but one element of the good old days that I think was good was this multi-generational extended family setups, corporate families setups that had lots of different people across generational living together supporting each other, the loss of any one person wasn’t destructive to the household in the sense.

I had lunch with an old boss of mine and I was like, “How are things doing?” I haven’t seen her in a long time and her teenagers are now in University and they’ve got boyfriends and girlfriends and might be on the marriage track, but none of her kids have their own kids yet. There are no grandchildren yet. She started telling me, “Me and my husband didn’t sell the big house. We thought about it, but we decided to keep it.” Three of their children adult, you know almost graduating from university or going on to their PhD programs are moving back in with us with their boyfriends or girlfriends and we’re going to have a house of ten people.

That’s old-school.

All adults. No grandchildren. She said, “I want them to live here not because A) We like the company, but B) It’s expensive to live in the Denver metro now. They’re in their PhD programs. They’re not earning income yet, even when they start earning income, they’re going to have low wages at first. I want them to move in with me and the money that they’re going to save, I want them investing it, putting in their IRA’s and their brokerage accounts. I said to her, “I freaking love this.”

I have a buddy of mine back from Rutgers. Italian guy from an Italian family. The Italians have a cultural thing about they don’t kick the kids out of the house. He got into his twelve. He got one of these medical sales jobs. They tend to pay well, like obscenely. He lived in the basement for a bunch of years. We were maybe 30. We were back on college campus and we were walking down the street and he’s like, “I own this home right here. I own this place over here.” He had bought these houses that he rents out the students.

I said, “Let me get this straight. Ten years ago, you were falling down drunk in the gutter in front of that house. Now you own it.” He’s like, “Yeah,” the reason he was able to do that was he did not jump into the consumeristic world that we tend to with the American Dream forced upon people. One of the disadvantages of solos is you can’t share costs, you don’t have the hedge and so on but one of the things that you’re demonstrating as a solo is you can forego this very consumeristic approach to living that often goes hand in hand with the escalator.  It’s that each of you have a car. There’s a big house. You pay for a lot of space in that house that you almost never use. You’re trying to keep up with the Joneses.

You move far away from your support system, which is your parents.

One of the things that solos can do especially if they’re living the rich remarkable life is that they’re not relying on spending money to make them happy. Many of those things don’t make you happy. You can keep your burn rate down. I suspect you’re part of this FIRE. What’s the acronym?

It stands for Financial Independence Retire Early. I adopt the FI part but not the RE part because to me financial independence just gives me the choice. I don’t like the word retirement because it tells people that I stop working and I won’t

Understanding Death

That won’t be the case. I don’t ever imagine. I’ll be fully. I’m not a rocking chair guy. I imagine I’ll continue to I don’t know what it’ll be, if I had to guess it would be I would still be doing a podcast. I still write some books. I would give talks. I might teach or do something like that, but I would do it on more on my own terms and especially more on my own pace. Let’s wrap talking about the last part, the inescapable part of this, which is dying. This obviously is a very scary thing for a lot of people.

They envision it being like painful perhaps, maybe even being very lonely and being uncertain not knowing when that’s going to happen. There’s just not very much conversation happening culturally around this thing. We tend to hide it away. We tend to protect young people from it, yet it’s one of the short things in life. A lot of people don’t have much of a plan for it. I think that this book is or project or podcast series whatever it ends up being is going to have to address a bit of this.

Do you listen to or read any of Alan Watts’s work?

Only in passing here or there like some quotes and so on.

I have not listened to or read a lot of Alan Watts. The one thing that I did listen to has stuck deep inside me and it was his views on death. For some context, all Alan Watts did in the 60s and 70s and he is deceased now, that’s Evergreen. He took a lot of Buddhist principles and Westernized them. He made them into relatable real-world concepts.

The modern-day version is Ryan Holiday who took a bunch of stoic principles and made them accessible.

I love Alan Watts’s work around death because he talks about it as we celebrate the birth and we should be celebrating death, as well how can you think about that. He has a lot of humor involved as well but exactly how you described it is one of the things he he talks about is that we know it’s all going to happen, but we talk about it very hush. It’s all this very tragic tragic thing. I spend a lot of time and repeatedly listening to the same thing and reminding myself. Part of the benefit of that, it’s not so much planning my own death, it’s making sure that if tomorrow. I got hit by a bus and was dying in a hospital room, you asked me, “Did you do it all, and was it good?” I would say, “Yes, It was a great run.”

I lost my parents pretty young. My dad was my age when he died. No one in my family lives long. I always had this idea of like, “I guess that’s going to happen to me too because of genetics.” I’m less convinced that’s necessarily the case. I do feel a bit of urgency to get it all in. I have a very similar feeling like, “I don’t want to die today, but if I did, all right. “ It was a good go. Do I want 20, 30 or 40 more years to see what else I can fit in? Absolutely. There’s this motivational element of our finitude that is inescapable.

I had a book club called 4000 Weeks of Time Management Book that made the case which is whatever we decide to do, we’re paying with our lives. You’re paying with your life at this time, meaning that you’re spending your life doing this rather than spending it doing something else. We should keep that in mind as a way to prioritize the important things in our lives there. I think that death becomes a lot less scary when you feel like you’ve been taking care of business and that you’re not going to sit there, “I wasted it.” Not that I made mistakes.

I think that that’s totally fine, but it’s like, “I could have done it a little better and a little differently. I couldn’t take the vacation. I could have like I could have taken a chance on that thing, but I was too scared to do it.” I don’t think anyone like to look back. I had this idea during a mushroom trip. Speaking of young people, I have a text message thread with two undergrads. These two guys are doing an independent study with me.

Opportunity Costs Of Couches

It’s such a treat like I think they like me. It’s fun to see them. They’re just sucking the marrow out of life. These guys are just getting after it. They’re what you want your undergraduate students to be like.  They’re curious and intellectually vibrant. They’re experimenting with life. I’m seeing them learn in a way that doesn’t happen to most people especially as they get olde. I was thinking about one of them, “I had this idea during a mushroom trip about the opportunity costs of couches.”

Tell me more.

If you think about like old couches, they were not comfortable. You sat in a couch in a living room while you were having a conversation drinking tea, had guests over or whatever, but couches weren’t about lounging. You didn’t sink into the couch.

They were about presentation. They were very functional and utilitarian. They weren’t hedonic like they are now.

People have couches. You sit on the couch, and it’s difficult to get out of the couch.

It’s more comfortable than your own bed.

Sometimes, yes. In front of it, you stick this 75-inch television and surround sound speakers and then you put basically candy on it. It’s delicious and incredibly entertaining. It’s just such a lore. I get the value of rest and recovery and there are days you’re just in a funk and you’re under the weather. You just want to binge-watch something that’s super entertaining. I get that. I was like, “How much more robust with our lives be if you just removed the couch from your house?”

I was looking at moving to a different apartment. I’m in a furnished apartment now and this new one I’d have to furnish it. It’s ticking through the list of things I’d have to buy to put in the apartment adding up the costs benefits. I was like, “I’d have to get a couch, get it delivered, get it upstairs and assemble it, and then it’s a big bulky thing. I’m unlikely to be able to resell it. If I need to move. I’d have to get it away for free.”

I looked at my list and I said, “This is the list that society told me to put in my house. I don’t need a couch.” I rarely sit on a couch. I would like somewhere to just relax and veg momentarily that’s not my bed. In case I on occasion want to watch a movie sure or TV show that happens only when I’m feeling sick maybe once a month. I’s that, “If I buy that couch I have more of a reason to sit there and veg out and I’d rather be out hiking. I don’t need that couch. That’s a waste of money.”

There’s a reason you and I can’t stop talking once we start talking. For the reader who’s not familiar with the term opportunity cost, people are very good at recognizing costs. There’s the cost of a couch. It’s going to cost you $1,000 or something like that. We’re very tuned into costs. We’re not very tuned into opportunity costs, which is the $1,000 that you spend on the couch is a $1,000 you can’t spend or invest in your retirement, for example, but there are also opportunity costs of time. The time you spent doing something we’re often aware of but we often don’t think about how you could have used that time for other important things.

The idea behind this and this may have been obvious as soon as I pointed out is that the time spent on a couch could be used for other things. Because couches are good, they’re good at being couches. It lures us into spending more time on them than we ought to. This undergrad sent me this text and goes, “I can’t stop thinking about the opportunity cost of couches.” He’s obsessed with this idea now in a sense. I needed to be doing a psychedelic journey in order to have that realization because what society says is a house is made up of you need a bed, couch and kitchen.

You need a dining table you.

Potential Topics

I don’t have dining tables. That’s an outdated concept. There are some other topics that are going to need to get covered around dying. I want to do an episode on hospice, end-of-life care and what that’s going to be like navigating that. I want to do an episode on euthanasia or I should say assistant medically assisted suicide or some variant of that. This is a hunch. I don’t have data on this. I think that the true solos among us of which you and I are don’t find the idea of medical assisted suicide aversive. If anything finds it a healing as a way to maintain autonomy and control in your life even in many ways to have dignity in a time that can be undignified.

I would suggest maybe we find you a guest for that who’s either working in or has at some point worked in the Netherlands where assisted suicide is legal.

I mentioned this man many times. I have a pact with a friend. She’s going to take me to Switzerland which I believe it’s legal and then bring me back and earn if needed. It’s not the plan or not the desire. Some of this is very easy to do because the survival instinct isn’t kicked in. It’s very abstract in a sense. There’s a book called Being Mortal that’s written by a physician and there’s a missing chapter from that book. There’s not a chapter about assisted suicide. I think it’s because as a doctor and from a Hippocratic standpoint, it it may not gel. It’s a very useful book but it omits this important topic which should be a very reasonable conversation to have if your quality of life, level of suffering and even being able to choose when’s the right time for you.

SOLO | Jessalyn Dean | Aging Single
Being Mortal Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End

You can imagine this if you have Alzheimer’s and deciding that if you get to a certain point you don’t want to go on and you don’t want to burden people. That’s not the life that you envision. There’s probably some interesting stuff to be done looking cross-culturally at this. This idea of celebration. I like the idea of people having an end-of-life celebration while thery are still alive. It’s very fun and interesting. I would much rather go to pre-funerals and funerals because the most important person isn’t there a funeral.

I think another episode is around finances and debt. Let me explain that a bit more. It’s not just what we think of as pure financial as what is it? What’s this cost? What happens here and there?” It’s like, “I need a state in a will and a trust and all this like jargony and boring stuff.” I think about that we live in a fully digital society. As a solo when I go, how does anyone know where to find my stuff?

I think there’s a whole host of these things around your digital death and digital inheritance.

I have a whole set up and I think I’ve shared it with you before, but it’s one person’s setup for, “How would my treasure map,” the breadcrumb trail I’ve lived in six different countries if I died tomorrow my sisters and the people that would inherit my things would have no idea where I bank, where my mortgage is? Do I rent? Did I buy my house? How to go get my extract my cats from the house and get them fed? Where’s my cell phone bill? All those auto-the-bill payments that are going to bleed my bank accounts dry. How do they shut those off? They have no idea where that stuff is.

There’s a whole bunch of practical stuff. There’s the associated stuff about like healthcare and having people be your point of contact and decision-makers. All this stuff is seamless when you have a spouse, but it’s very difficult when you don’t.

I would challenge that to say there are still a lot of couples out there with a spouse that don’t know. There’s one person that does all the finances and the other one would be completely helpless. They might have a wallet with all the passwords in it, but they would be completely lost because their partner does it all.

I thought you were going to add that as a solo you have unique opportunities with regard to giving at end of life. My desire would be to die with zero. There’d be some money that people could get or whatever.

“I have enough I don’t need more.”

The idea essentially is there’s a possibility that depending on how my savings go and when I die, there might be a rather large pool of money there that I never touch, that would burn me because I work hard for it and get it. I’ve cut many corners and delayed gratification that there’s a whole bunch of money in a bank account. I’m like, “I got to spent.” I adore my sister. We’re cut from the same cloth. She lives of frugal life. She’s good at saving. She’s not banking on me to give her money. She’s going to get it all because that’s just the default. What are the unique possibilities that you have to give back or to give broadly I have this pet idea of, and there’s never a good time to do it, to have a very fun will where you have a friend who maybe not as well off as you and you could give him or her a big chunk of money that they can have or you have your cheap friend.

If you look around, you can’t see who your cheap friend, it is probably you. You’re like, “Everybody to spendthrift in my life,” where you could like your cheap friend who won’t spend any money on himself, you give him like $20,000 for something special. In the world of like a tale of two seniors one where you’ve taken care of business that there are fun and generous things that you can do with your assets that the typical relationship escalator type who’s going to give it to a spouse and kids and grandkids and so on. We don’t have that luxury.

I don’t have any statistics to support this just like what I read and listen to that most people end up at death with a lot more than they thought they would. The same thing in retirement, the whole at least in the US, the contribution to a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA, this whole battle of you make the decision based on if you think in retirement, you’ll be a higher income or a lower income. It’s common for people to think in retirement. They’ll have less money and it’s typical to be the opposite. It gambles in the wrong direction, I personally subscribe to the die with zero concept. Obviously, it would be a little more than zero. But this is because of a personal value that I have which is that I just need enough If in my life I’ve oversaved, it’s either because I didn’t spend enough on myself, which I can say is not the case. I like I spend like inappropriate amount on myself. I don’t feel that I’m lacking in anything.

Once you get to a certain level of spending, you’re happy enough.

The alternative is that you’ve hoarded things that could have been better given to society or distributed in some more socially equitable way. I think there’s an alternative view which is well if I could make a lot of money and save a lot of money than I can like donate that money and and do good things. I don’t personally subscribe to that because who am I to decide what’s the right way to spend money? The government and and nonprofits are much better suited to know what social needs and how to allocate money.

Readers, I want to remind everyone that Jessalyn lives in Europe.

I do not recommend this for anybody. I am putting that huge caveat on the front. I don’t have a will and it’s because I move countries every two years. Do you understand the administrative chaos that comes with that? You’ve got to rewrite your will every time you move and like, “This country doesn’t recognize it that country doesn’t recognize it.” I’ve got stuff all over the place. The Practical reality of that will being useful is low because my perspective is,  “I’ll just let the law decide and I’m okay with its outcome,” which is just a split it amongst my siblings.

I wouldn’t do that. What I would do if I were in your situation was I would designate a beneficiary of someone who I would trust with my life and then give them in constructions. That’s how I would do it. You have to trust but I have those people in my life that I have no reason to believe that they would.

I might reach a point where I have this friend that I feel strongly I want them to receive some of that and at that point, that’s when I would draft the legal documents to make that happen got it because otherwise, the law would not default to that in any country.

One other topic that I’m going to definitely explore because I’m thinking about it is retiring in another country. If we talk about retirement is financial freedom. It’s just a coded word. One way that you can get financial freedom is to lower your costs. One way to lower your cost at least if you live in the United States or some other places is to spend all our part of your time. In another place that has a lower cost of living.

We call that geographical Arbitrage in the fire community.

That presents a set of challenges, there are cultural and laguage challenge or whatever they maybe, but I also think that there’s some element of growth that comes with living in another country, especially living in the country as an older person. That’s something that I’m going to add to the list. It would fit under the R part of this.

I have one last plug.

I think we should wrap up after one last thing.

I don’t think it deserves its own episode, but maybe it does. It ties into what you just said, which is as a solo you have a unique retirement opportunity. You can go and spend your time wherever you like. You’re not tied to like where my spouse and you can band life it. I don’t think it deserves its own episode. What do you do with your body after death? I think this is the stereotypical approach when there’s like family involved as people think like, “I’m going to be buried next to my husband or next to my children and there’s a like strong sometimes to typically driven by cultural or familial drivers.” If you’re disconnected from those or have never had them to begin with, there’s a lot of freedom and what happens to your body when you die. That’s something solos have an increasing opportunity to think about I personally plan to donate my body to a body farm.

Thank you for bringing this full circle.

You didn’t know what a body farm was when I mentioned it. The first one was created in Tennessee, but now if there are a couple more that have cropped up in the US and some European countries. It’s literally an open field where your body is dumped on animals and weather can wreak havoc on your body and

and scientists study the effects of wildlife and weather patterns on the decay of your body.

That research helps them solve crimes. It helps the FBI investigate crimes and have better equipped information to when they’ve found a body that’s been in a forest for 30 years, they can determine the time of death easier based on the degradation, animal feeding or whether patterns etc. Other people typically think of body donation as like, “Studying my brain when I had Alzheimer’s,” which is also a great one or if I had a very rare disease donating my body for them to study that thing but an alternative is crime-fighting solving.

I’m surprised that there’s something called body farms. I’m not surprised that you want to partake.

I’d love an episode where you find out what are the different ways you can donate your body and how do you do it. That maybe is its own episode.

I totally see it. I wrote a paper that talks a bit about like the funeral industry and there are a lot of like charlatans and bad behavior and unethical stuff around that business, providing people Alternatives rather than defaulting into the typical I think would be useful.

I can leave a financial or research leagcy.

Thank you for your service.

You’re welcome.

This is fine. I appreciate it. The whole kickoff some series at some point of time I think it’s going to be useful.

This was a great time.


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About Jessalyn Dean

SOLO | Jessalyn Dean | Aging SingleJessalyn Dean is a financial literacy and tax consultant currently based in Milan Italy with her two cats though is frequently on the move as a self-proclaimed “serial migrant”. She spent her teenage years and 20’s searching for “the one” only to realise once she found him that it wasn’t what she was meant for.

Jessalyn got off the relationship escalator in 2017 and now designs her relationships using autonomy as a compass and removing hierarchy from all of her relationships. She is currently working towards early retirement and traveling full-time as a solo nomad. In her free time, she coaches friends on doing the same.