With apologies to the movie by the same name, turning 50 is an expensive proposition. I mean, it sure beats the alternative (you know, being dead and all) and most days I still think of myself as about 38 (give or take a year) although the body often screams quite loudly that I’m not. By screams, I mean that it creaks, groans, cracks and cramps, and that’s just getting out of bed! But enough about me. What I really mean when I say turning 50 is expensive is this: At fifty plus, chances are you’re attending at least four weddings and a funeral every year because we’re at that age when our kids and our friends’ kids and our kids’ friends (did you follow that?) are all getting engaged and married. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, our aging family members and those of our friends are passing away. I’m not being morbid here folks – that’s life and I get it but when you’re also still putting kids through university, turning 50 is an expensive proposition!
I’m writing this a little bit tongue in cheek today but in a few days or weeks, it might all be just a little bit too close to home for me. Having had to recently spend time talking about what a Celebration of Life might look like, one of the things that stood out was just how darn expensive it is to die. Even those of us who are exploring “simpler” options are finding that something made out of MDF with rope handles (to be used for cremation purposes) will cost about the same as the first used car I bought when I was 17 years old! I’m thinking I might head down to my local Home Depot, pick up a couple of sheets of MDF and have a crack at making my own “box” saving my family a few bucks along the way! If it’s all going up in flames anyway why burn through your budget?
On a happier note, the “four weddings” part is what really puts a dent in your wallet. First, you’ve got the engagement gift and/or party. With the merging of so many cultures and customs these days (which is pretty awesome) it means there’s a pretty steep learning curve as you try to navigate your way around what’s considered appropriate within each cultural tradition. We’re attending an Indian engagement event soon and the texts are flying fast and furious about what to wear, whether to buy a gift or give cash and if cash – how much? One friend even wanted to co-ordinate the amount given so that none of us looked cheap by comparison – yikes! It’s not just about the wedding either. You’ll probably have bridal showers and Stag and Doe events, on top of the wedding itself. Four events per wedding, times an average of four weddings per year and suddenly you’ve spent about the same amount of money you might otherwise have allocated towards that Caribbean cruise you’ve always dreamed of! Looks like you’ll still be dreaming for a while. Perhaps, if you’re really lucky, one of these many weddings you’re invited to attend will take place out of town and you’ll at least have an excuse to book a Holiday Inn overnight. It’s about all you’ll be able to afford anyway!
The bottom line I guess is that living is expensive. Living past 50 is even more so. However, given that the alternative is none too pleasant, I’ll happily pay the price! It’s a privilege to watch your children grow up, get married and start families of their own. If you are lucky enough to also witness these life events occur amongst the children of your close friends and family, it’s an added blessing. More often than not, the remarks I overhear at weddings have nothing to do with money and everything to do with “my goodness I can’t believe they’re old enough to get married, I remember when they took their first steps….” and other similar memories. Which brings me to the best part of all – memories. If you’re 50+, chances are you have plenty of memories and plenty of opportunities to make more memories. And memories my friends…… memories are priceless.