The Window of Opportunity

The Window of Opportunity

My old mum passed away last year aged 96. Of all the millions of lessons she taught me, one of the most profound was to make the best use of the window that is the last 20-30 years of life.

We baby boomers are a lucky generation. We have had many amazing opportunities that our antecedents and even our children may not experience. We have lived in a time of relative world stabililty, we have been able to work fulfilling jobs, could afford to buy a house and were educated courtesy of the taxpayer. We are also able to embrace new technology that makes our lives easier and able to connect with others all over the world.

We can expect to live a long life. Our generation is part of the aging population where our life expectancy has risen over time, so is now 83.2 for women in New Zealand and 79.5 for men. It is really important to think about what to do with that time because it doesn’t last forever and some of it will be compromised by ill health.

When we hit our 50s, many of us find ourselves the most free we have ever been. Typically:

  • we are earning a good salary having created a strong career
  • we have a home that is either mortgage free – or nearly
  • our kids have grown up and are self sufficient
  • our own parents are getting older, so may need more support but are possibly still pretty independent.

It is also a time when people start taking stock of their lives. Realising that we (probably) only live once it suddenly seems important to reassess what is important to us.

My mum lived a very busy life between 65 and 95.  During this time she was widowed, but met a new partner 10 years her junior on a cruise. He was Australian, so she spent the next 24 years living in Christchurch during the summer and  Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast in winter. She also learnt to play Bridge, became a marriage celebrant, became involved in Toastmasters and travelled all over the world.  By the time she was in her 90s she was blind, deaf and wobbly on her pins – but she still had her memories and absolutely no regrets.

In his book Twenty Good Summers – Work Less, Live More and Make the Most of Your Money New Zealand author, financial advisor and wealth coach Martin Hawes explores this special time in our lives. He also gives sound advice about managing financially. It’s never too early to be planning ahead – do you want to continue to work? Downsize your work? Start a business based on a passion? Be more involved with grandchildren? Use your skills to volunteer? Go campervanning around the country? Travel the world?

Whatever you do – think about it and talk it through with your loved ones. What will it say on your headstone? ‘He worked himself to death’ or She lived a full life – created great memories and had no regrets’?


Heather Knewstubb
Time Genie Personal Concierge Services
Kapiti Coast
Ph: 022 394 8493