094: Empowering Widows Financially with Dr. Kathleen Rehl
Almost every financial advisor faces a time in their career during which their clients’ spouses pass away, and many advisors struggle to know how to both provide support and guidance to their newly widowed clients’ surviving partners. In fact, as many as 70% of widows change financial advisors after the death of their spouse, and a lack of understanding is almost always the reason.
After Dr. Kathleen Rehl’s late husband passed, she set out on a journey to help empower widows, as well as the advisors who work with them. She is the author of Moving Forward On Your Own: A Financial Guidebook For Widows. Though many of the guests I’ve had on this podcast are authors, this is one of the few books that was fast, easy to read, and full of great insight.
Today, Kathleen joins the podcast to talk about how becoming a widow herself completely changed how she works with this demographic, how profound loss affects the decision-making process, and the common mistakes that get so many financial advisors fired after the death of a spouse. You’ll also hear stories about how Kathleen’s helped her own clients through this difficult time in their lives to pass their values, hopes, and dreams on to the next generation.
Please note: For the special giveaway of Job Optional*, we do not currently offer international shipping. Residents outside of the U.S. may obtain a copy of Job Optional* via eBook format upon request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Special Gift for Podcast Listeners!
In this podcast interview, you’ll learn:
- Why Kathleen set off on her mission to empower widows – and how writing her book and working with other widows helped to facilitate the healing process.
- How Kathleen used her book as a launchpad to help provide financial support to organizations for widows and their children.
- How the loss of a partner can turn you into a “loose wheel” – and why Kathleen had to find new activities and make new friends.
- What single women should be looking for as they try to find financial advisors – and Kathleen’s ABC formula for vetting them.
- “I had many couples say, ‘This isn’t financial planning. It’s marital counseling.’” – Dr. Kathleen Rehl
- Moving Forward on Your Own: A Financial Guidebook for Widows
- Moving Forward on Your Own Family Foundation
- Sudden Money Institute
Investment Advisory Services may be offered through Howard Bailey Securities, LLC, a registered investment advisor. Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements. The CLU® mark is the property of The American College, which reserves sole rights to its use, and is used by permission. Howard Bailey Financial is a registered trademark of Howard Bailey Financial. All rights reserved. Howard Bailey does not offer legal or tax advice. Please consult the appropriate professional regarding your individual circumstance. Not associated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other government agency.
Casey Weade: Kathleen, welcome to the podcast.
Kathleen Rehl: Hi, Casey.
Casey Weade: I’m so excited to have you here. This couldn’t be more timely. I’ve experienced working with so many widows myself, that it is a real struggle I think for financial advisors to figure out how to work through that environment, how to work through that difficult time. And we also just lost my father-in-law. So, my mother-in-law lost her husband here recently and lost my wife’s dad as well in that as well as the other sisters losing their dad. And that’s been a pretty difficult time for everyone in our family. And so, there’s a lot of questions that I have that I am really looking forward to asking you and we just recently had one of our clients worked with us for a long time just this past week passed away. And so, this isn’t something that never happens. This is something that always happens and I’m glad that you’re speaking to it.
Kathleen Rehl: You’re right. And with the aging baby boomer generation, that’s another reason why we’re one of the fastest-growing demographic groups in the country today.
Casey Weade: Well, we’ve got families that we have been working with since I was a kid and my dad was an advisor. We’ve got families that we’ve been working with since the late 90s. And so, they’re getting to that stage where we’re starting to see one or two of them pass away and it’s a difficult time and I’m just looking forward to hearing what your experience was like. And I think other people will be able to relate to that and help them understand, and also those that haven’t experienced yet that loss, how to prepare for that, how to best prepare for that moving forward. And that was what your book was called, Moving Forward On Your Own. And I really, you know, most of the books that I read as I have a new podcast guest join us are pretty darn thick and difficult reads. Sometimes it takes me a few days to get through them. This was not that.
I think I made it through this in about an hour and it was also one of those that I actually ended up with probably more notes after getting through this easy-to-read book than I have in some of the more difficult thickest books that I’ve read. So, I just want to know, and I want to hear it from you, usually, I would go back and tell your story on the front end and your background, but I’ve heard you talk and talk about it. I’ve heard you tell your story, and why you wrote the book. So, I want to open up the floor for you to just share your experience and what led you down this path to write this guidebook or manual if you will.
Kathleen Rehl: Sure. Thanks. I can work with widowed clients in my practice and thought I did a pretty good job with it but after I became a widow myself and experienced that crushing grief and it indeed felt like a bag lady for just a little bit until I ran my numbers again and talk with my own advisor and realized that I was going to be okay at least financially, maybe not so much on the others but I realized, “Oh my gosh, if I was feeling this fear and I’ve got this background, I’m a reasonably smart woman, I got a Ph.D., I’m a certified financial planner, good with numbers. And if I was feeling this terror, what about my widowed sisters?” And I decided I really needed to help them to write a book. And there’s another backstory on how the book came into being. Because I know the background of probably many of the people who are listening to this, I think they would be uncomfortable with this.
My husband was a very spiritual man. He was a Lutheran pastor, and he was diagnosed with cancer in December of 2006. It was in two months later he died in my arms, two days right before Valentine’s Day in February of 2007. But during that two-month period, we had even more profound conversations than we had before and we were about a month into that. Two months, we knew we had a short time to live that the cancer was incurable. And he said, “It’s time for me to go. I accomplished everything that I was to do in this lifetime.” And he was just 72 years old, and he’s saying that to me, “I’ve accomplished everything I was supposed to do in this lifetime but you have not. And that, for you to achieve your lifetime purpose, I have to go.” And I would start falling. I said, “What the heck are you talking about? What do you mean my purpose? What’s that supposed to be?” And he said, “I don’t know what it’s supposed to be but you’ll figure it out.”
So, after he died, I continue to talk with Tom which I still have conversations with him periodically up here and I was on a swing outside overlooking this beautiful lake behind our house, and he came to me. And you’d have to know Tom, he was a very, very funny guy and he starts out he’s saying, “I got it. I got the job.” And I said, “Oh, okay. What do you mean you got the job?” He says, “I got the job. I’m your chief guardian angel.” And I said, “Oh, that’s wonderful but there’s more.” He said, “I’m the guardian angel. I’m on this team. This team was formed and came together the day that I was diagnosed in December,” and the chair of this team, and he knew that I was familiar working on teams and committees. And he said, “So, the chair of this committee, this team is God
and there are other teachers and guides and mentors on this team. Some of them you know already, some of them you don’t. But we’ve been given the responsibility. We’ve got one year to work with you from the time I was diagnosed until a year. So, it would be like December of 2007. And at the end of that year, you will have figured out what your purpose is to be.”
Okay. And that was it. And I kid you not. By the time December rolled around, I knew that I was to help empower widows financially and I was to write a book. I didn’t have a clue how I was going to write that book, how I was going to get published, how I was going to get up, anything but that’s – and I started working on that book. So, I started working on the book in 2007. It began coming together in 2008 and 2009 and then there were some things that lined up deciding how to publish it, self-publish it or independently publish it or find a publisher. That took some time. We could do a whole session just on that. And it was finally out in 2010. So, it was my late husband’s guidance. There would be times that I would sit down with the keyboard and write, and I’d say, “Okay, where are we going today?” And it would just be like, you know what, I used to be a runner and when I would run, I would get this rush, this flow, I would call it being in the flow, and it would just be like I was in the flow, and I would start writing.
Casey Weade: Yeah. I’d like to call that your flow state and that’s what you would get into and I wonder, as I was listening to you to talk about this, and then kind of revisiting one of the things you talked about in your book, you recommended that widows write their story down and talk about what they’ve been through, how they’re feeling. And I wonder, did that come out of this experience you had as you’re telling your own story? What was that therapy like for you? What did that help you accomplish?
Kathleen Rehl: And I would say that writing that book was one of and then beginning to work with widows, to speak to widows groups, that facilitated my own healing probably more than anything else. It’s helping others. And writing, that’s a second. There’s a term. Biblical therapy, I believe is the name of the term, but writing does help. And, for me, like a lot of the stuff I talked about the computer, I would actually start at my meditation chair in the morning, longhand writing, and there’s actually some research that the kinesthetic movements and that connection, the way it works with our brain is very, very positive. And that’s why people have said, “Oh, are you going to make this into an ebook?” No, because I want them to write in the book and there’s all kinds of places for them to physically get a pen out and write to tell their stories or to do activities and exercises.
Casey Weade: I can only imagine how healing that must be to go through that process. And you know, also, as I was reading this, I was thinking, this can’t just be for widows. I know, you yourself, you experienced this as a woman and you speak largely to women that most if not all of this applies to men who have also lost their wife, correct?
Kathleen Rehl: Yes. A difference might be the way like the interior design, there’s a lot of color, there’s a lot of original art that was specifically to appeal to women, although I’ve had guys who’ve looked at it and said, “Fine.” There is one picture in there, forgot what page it’s on, but it’s talking about not being a purse for others and, of course, we have to change that to be, “Don’t be a sugar daddy,” something like that. But I’ve had guys who have used the book, who said, “It’s great.” Believe it or not, I had women who have been through a divorce and they talk about feeling pain, the loss of a spouse. It’s a different kind of a loss of a spouse.
Casey Weade: Yeah. Well, that’s another question I was going to ask. Does this apply to divorcees as well, and the loss that they experience? And it would seem so.
Kathleen Rehl: I think there are similarities in the stages that they go through. I’ve been asked to write a book specifically for divorce. And I said, that’s somebody else’s book. This is my book and I’ve also been asked, “Well, when are you going to update the book?” The book was written as an evergreen book so the topics that were appropriate years ago, they’re still appropriate.
Casey Weade: Yeah. We’re not talking about tax law or Medicare or things like that.
Kathleen Rehl: When I wrote the book, actually, we were in the throes of this great recession and I talked about the falling stock market. Well, then a couple of years later, I did kind of updated but I said, “The fluctuating stock market,” because since then we’ve had time to…
Casey Weade: Sure. It was no longer falling.
Kathleen Rehl: No.
Casey Weade: I wonder as well, it’s been quite a while since you’ve lost Tom, but do you ever find yourself going back and revisiting anything in the guidebook yourself? Is there anything that you spent a lot of time on or that you found to be most impactful in your life?
Kathleen Rehl: Each of those things still apply, the peace and gratitude. That’s very important to me to continue to express gratitude. Somebody asked, I don’t know, Casey, if you remember about pennies from heaven, about finding pennies. And the fact that the first 500 copies of the book I actually…
Casey Weade: Not everybody’s maybe heard the story though. So, go ahead.
Kathleen Rehl: Okay. All right. Tom and I used to walk every morning and it was a pretty similar route and once in a while we find a coin along the way, but it was pretty rare. But after his death, I just started finding coins all the time. One day I found 13 coins, but it was shortly after his death I went walking and it was through a parking lot. It was early in the morning there’s a parking lot behind an apartment complex. That’s what it was, the parking lot. And I saw something blowing down the street and I turned and looked at it and it was blowing towards me. And I leaned down I picked it up, and it was a $100 bill. And I could hear Tom’s voice saying, “Nuts with these pennies. We’re going big time.” And I turned it over and there were the words, “In God We Trust,” and it just felt such a personal message. I took that hundred dollar bill to the bank and had them verify it really was $100 bill, but I will never spend that $100 bill and I kid you not, right shortly before the book came out, I found another $100 bill. So, I have both of those $100 bills in my safe and never ever spent.
But for a while, I mean, all these pennies and coins that I was collecting so the first 500 copies of the book, I actually pasted a real penny down in there but then I said decided, “Oh, I can’t do that with all books.” But somebody asked me, “Are you still finding those pennies, Kathleen?” And as I’ve moved further past that point, it’s now more than 12 years since Tom died. I don’t find pennies as often as I used to. It was just like, “Whoa, something’s wrong if I don’t find a few pennies every day.” I find them less often. And my conversations used to be every day with Tom and now they’re small. And in fact, with the conversations, it was about a year after his death, and he came to me and said that he was not going to be around as much now because he had other work that he needed to do. If I ever really needed him, I could call out for him, but he wouldn’t be stopping by every day and the conversations were less now. Some people might listen to this and say, “Oh, that’s a lot of woo-woo.” But it happened.
Casey Weade: It took time. Right? It took time. It didn’t happen immediately. And that’s just part of grief.
Kathleen Rehl: Part of the grieving process and grief is different for everyone. My journey is not going to be the same as my next-door neighbor’s journey. It’s all unique, and I never would say to another widow, “Oh, I know exactly how you’re feeling. I know exactly where you are on your path. I know exactly what’s going to…” because I don’t.
Casey Weade: Yeah. Well, I appreciate that and I want to revisit that here later but you said something that I want to make sure we touch on because I think it’s important and that was gratitude. You said you continually go back and revisit that section of the book on gratitude and how important that’s continued to be in your life. So, what are some of your maybe you heard we had John Israel on the podcast not too long ago, Mr. Thank you, Mr. Gratitude, and he talked a lot about it. And there’s these gratitude practices that every morning I have my gratitude practice. What is your gratitude practice?
Kathleen Rehl: In addition to saying thank you to people, saying I appreciate to people and I put that in writing a lot, it’s not just in an email, it might be in a little card, but in activities. So, I’m involved with several organizations where I’m doing volunteer work. Just say I appreciate your mission and I believe in what you’re doing and so I’m going to help you there. I also do it with my checkbook. I am a generous donor. I set up a foundation. It’s really within a community foundation being that’s where it sits. It’s the Moving Forward On Your Own Family Foundation. I put proceeds from the sale of my book and my speaking in that and there’s now we’ve made over I think it’s about 50 grants so far. We give it to organizations that support widows and widows’ children. They have to be a 501(c)(3), so it’s not just money that some widow comes and says, “Oh, I need some money.” No, it has to be to another 501(c)(3) nonprofit. And I funded that with I think right now there’s still $120,000 in it. So, I got a lot more money to give. There’s a new research project that’s coming up but I want to help to sponsor. So, I give with my money but I think like for me, gratitude is so important. It’s like, the more you give, the more that you get back. It just works that way.
Casey Weade: And that’s been just part of your gratitude practices, continuing to give. I think that can be so powerful, just giving but also being able to see the impact that you’re making along the way. And maybe that helped to kind of find your identity after you lost a piece of it after Tom passed away, and maybe I phrased that incorrectly and feel free to correct me if you want. I just remember getting into your book and you were talking about this loss of identity. And I thought about it as people step into retirement, they step away from a career they’ve had for 40 years. There’s this loss of identity and I guess I didn’t – I don’t know that I ever really applied that to the loss of a spouse too.
Kathleen Rehl: It’s like who am I? Tom was a very strong, outgoing vibrant guy. And I had my own career and I was successful in that but also, for example, when we would go to church, we go to church and hi hello and everything. After Tom was gone, I continue to go to that church for a while but people came up and said, “Oh, I missed Tom’s baritone voice. It was so strong,” or, “Oh, I look over in the pew where you guys used to sit,” and he’s not there. “Oh, Tom was so wonderful and building the grounds committee,” and it was just like, “What about me? What about me?” And I needed to step back from that church for a while because I was just reminded of who I was not. I was not Mrs. Tom Rehl.
Casey Weade: And so, stepping back from some of those activities and finding something new was actually helpful. It seems like the advice we usually get is, “Well, go out, keep doing the things that you’re always doing, live life like it always was.” And it doesn’t sound like that’s what you did.
Kathleen Rehl: And we did a lot of things with couples. There were couples dinners together, couples going to the movie or couples playing a card game and I wasn’t invited to those couple activities anymore. I was like a loose wheel.
Casey Weade: Yeah. How did you get out and start doing things? I mean, my mom’s had the struggle after being divorced. You know, she told me just not that long ago she’s saying, “I want to go out to the mall or I want to go out to eat. I want to go to a movie but I look around and I see other people that are with their significant other or with their husband or their boyfriend and I don’t have anybody,” and she doesn’t like the way that makes her feel.
Kathleen Rehl: I did with a cocoon in the house. My house was a beautiful home. It had a gorgeous glass back to overlook the lake and my business was in my home. People liked coming to my house. It was peaceful and they got cookies and lemonade. And so, I was in the house a lot but in the evening, I couldn’t go out. We used to go to outdoor concerts and I just couldn’t go out. So, it was a big thing for me when after about six or seven months, I went out to a concert in the park. And I think, boy, I was going to say it was Sousa music but I’m not sure if that was another company. Maybe that was another concert. But I did it all by myself and it was really good. Then I wanted to get with people. And so, are you familiar with the organization, Meetup?
Casey Weade: Yes. Yeah. My mom uses that. Yes.
Kathleen Rehl: Yes. This is when it was just really getting started way back one dozen years ago. And I like outdoor activities. I joined a women’s hiking group. There was a woman’s book group. There were women’s groups that I wanted to join. I didn’t feel comfortable in a couples kind of relationship. So, I made some new friends that way. There were some of my tried and true, oh, goodness, how can I forget, lady friends from my church. There was a group that I helped start years before called Grace Girlfriends, and they just put their arms around me and took good care. I had one lady friend who had experienced, let’s see, who had experienced widowhood. So, yes, she was with me, then she would come over to the house in the evening and bring her knitting and she just knit and I would work on cards or some other thing and just having her in the house for a couple of hours was wonderful. So, my lady friends were really, really significant in helping me.
In fact, this lady who would come over and sit with me and several years later she remarried, after widowhood, she became widowed again and that’s not uncommon. A widow does remarry and she had married a man who was quite a bit older. She experienced widowhood a second time. In fact, she said to me, “I don’t know if I can do this,” and I said, “I know you can,” so I reciprocated for her.
Casey Weade: Well, I think there’s a common theme that I see there and that is you got uncomfortable sometimes and it was uncomfort that got you to get more comfortable and it kind of help you move through this period of time doing things that you didn’t necessarily weren’t comfortable doing. Maybe you didn’t really want to do it but you got out there and you did it. Would that be a correct assessment?
Kathleen Rehl: Yes. I had to do it and I was not going to – I didn’t have family that lived in the immediate area. My stepson was wonderful. He would call every morning just to check in with me while he was driving to work. “How are you doing, Kathleen?” That was great that I really have family to get together with.
Casey Weade: Yeah. Well, I’ve seen that helping my mother-in-law, Kris, a lot. She’s been trying new things, getting out there doing things that maybe she isn’t totally comfortable doing. She’s doing a woodworking workshop at the local high school. She just joined a bee club so she’s learning how to raise bees and just trying new things and experiencing new things, getting around people. Getting out of the house has been really powerful for her but I do want to revisit something that I saw happen after her husband, Dan, passed away. And that was that it seemed like there was a lot of pressure that she received from family and friends, a lot of contradictory advice. Everybody wanted to put in their two cents and especially from I’d say some of the closest families said, “Well, you need to sell the car,” or, “Don’t sell the car,” and, “If you’re going to sell the car, sell it over here.” “Do it this way,” or, “Take it to auction.” “Do that.” And she was just overwhelmed by all this, you know, everybody throwing advice at her and pressure on top of her. I think that’s not uncommon. And so, what kind of advice would you give during that period of time?
Kathleen Rehl: That early stage of widowhood, that deep grief when your brain actually isn’t functioning, there’s parts of our brain that keep going like our digestion or our feet, our blood flow, that all keeps going, but the upper cognitive higher thinking processes is just right out the window. And so, memory, short attention span, waking, decision making just downright difficult, if not impossible. So, some things she may not really understand the ramifications. If she makes decisions that are too early, they may not be right, especially if they’re irrevocable decisions like moving to get out of the house because the house is just so empty. I walk in the living room and I know that he’s never going to be there watching TV anymore and I just want to leave. It might not be the right decision. I used to teach my widowed clients to stand in front of a mirror and practicing this. After somebody gave them an idea, like, “Oh, you should sell your house,” or, “Oh, you should sell the car.” “Oh, you should buy this investment.”
Casey Weade: Yeah.
Kathleen Rehl: “Thank you for your concern but it’s way too early for me to decide what’s going to be right for me. I’m just starting to work with my financial advisor,” or whoever their, “my professional advisor is right now and we’re starting to figure out what’s going to be best for me. But I appreciate you thinking about me and I’ll certainly take that into consideration.” And I would have them even write it on a piece of paper and set it down by the phone because I said, “Your brother-in-law is going to call.”
Casey Weade: Right. It was one call after another.
Kathleen Rehl: And then they would come back and they say, “How did you know if that was going to happen?” Just because it does and my colleague, Susan Bradley, who is with the Sudden Money Institute, talks about this as a decision-free zone. It doesn’t mean no decisions. There are some things you have to make up your own decisions and you’re applying for benefits, but like if you get the insurance money, you don’t invest it right away. You sit in a highest possible money market, safe money market until you really make the decisions, until you really know what direction you’re going to go.
Casey Weade: Sure. Well, let’s go there. As you’re going through these different stages, you talked about this first stage because then we can sit there and say, “Well, we’re not going to make any decisions,” and then someone’s going to say, “Well, how long until you make a decision?” Especially, it seems like that comes from the people that are closest to you, your children? Well, we need to get on this. You can’t leave that money in the money market forever, right? Or your financial advisor and sometimes we need to give some type of response or definition of how long is that period of time and how do we recognize where we’re at in the first place? And it might be good for you to just kind of start off by walking us through what those stages are.
Kathleen Rehl: All right. I like alliteration, grief, and growth, and grace is the last stage and some people like to call that transformation. But the grief stage is when it’s just almost it’s a numb time and she’s very vulnerable at that time and it’s not just like with financial vulnerabilities. It can be physical vulnerabilities. There’s the immune system can be compromised, so she may get sick more often. I had a couple of my widowed clients who after their husbands died, within several months, they develop cancer themselves. It was like they were caring for their spouses but once they were gone, they developed this. You’re going to check the cash flow to make sure that the bills are being paid, that you have a general idea of where stuff is, but you’re not moving around at that point. The next stage of growth, oh, and by the way, in the book, there’s about eight pages of financial steps for recent widows and she’ll be starting some of those things and moving into more of those and growth and that little financial steps is also free on my website if somebody wants.
Casey Weade: I feel like the book is really aimed largely at that grief stage.
Kathleen Rehl: Yes, it is. Yeah. It’s definitely that but that eight pages of those steps will be part. When does she move into growth? It depends on lots of factors such as the circumstances of death. I had one client, they’ve been clients for a decade, and she was at work one morning, got a phone call to get to the hospital right away. Her husband had dropped dead on the tennis court playing doubles. He was retired already, totally unexpected. Not anticipated. He’s dead. Two months later another widowed client of mine she and her husband were in their 80s and he had dementia. She was his full-time caregiver. They always said he was living on borrowed time. He died quietly in sleep one night. Now, even though she was older than the other client who was in her 60s, she passed from grief to growth in about seven months because she had actually done part of her grieving before the death of her husband where with the other gal, it was absolute surprise. That first gal who was in her 60s, it took her almost a year before she self-identified because I talked to her about the stages of grieving. She said, “I think I’m thinking more straight now and I’m ready to deal with more things.” In that growth stage, all those steps for new widows would have been completed.
She’ll be looking at investments because some of the investments that were appropriate for her and her spouse as a couple are not going to be what really fits her lifestyle as a single person. She will look at preretirement or postretirement decisions depending on what her age is. Housing decisions whether she’ll stay or go or downsize or with that. So, those kinds of things are happening in the growth stage. And then that last stage, grace, is it’s a beautiful time and it can be reinvention, repurposing, new friendships, new activities. There’s a process that I took my clients through that I call Legacy Lifeprint. It’s a way to pass your values, hopes and dreams on to the next generation beyond the scope of what we’re going to talk about today. But that’s just a gorgeous time and it takes a long time to get there. It took me I was writing in my journal in the morning and it’s about six years in before I hit that stage.
Do all women go through all three stages? No. Unfortunately, there are some that never make it out of stage one. None of my clients but these are the ones that may you refer to as she was stuck in her grief and they’re usually very mature women who were joined at the hip with their husband. They did everything together. And when he passes, it’s the likelihood she may die within a couple of years of his passing. You heard stories of where husband and wife, they die within hours of each other. And sometimes the surviving spouse wasn’t even sick but you also may have heard of death of a broken heart. That is a real legitimate medical condition. It’s actually, the scientific term is stress-related cardiomyopathy. I believe that’s what it is but my mother passed. She was 84 at the time and she died within a couple of months of that two-year span after dad had passed on. But that second stage, that growth, most women do get to that stage and that’s a comfortable stage. It’s a good stage. It’s a safe stage to be at and there are many widows who are just comfortable to be there. But for those who go on to that third stage, a new life, which can even include a new partner, maybe not marriage, but a partnership with an individual, ihat can be a great, great stage.
Casey Weade: So, would you say that it sounds like maybe that grief stage is typically, you know, somewhere between six months to a year, maybe 18 months? And sometimes it can be a lifetime. Sometimes it can be a couple of years, I realized that but typically, we’re going to find that being that six months to a year stage, it sounds like. And during that period of time, we shouldn’t be making any major financial decisions.
Kathleen Rehl: Irrevocable decisions.
Casey Weade: Unfortunately, there are some decisions that have to be made and sometimes they are relatively big decisions that might not be revocable. And for the most part, we shouldn’t have those types of decisions and if we can push them off, if we can wait until we get to that growth stage, I understand that but during that period of time, quite often, you’re getting hounded, right? You got everybody coming out you saying, “We need to do this, need do that,” and then there’s your financial advisor that is calling you and maybe you feel pressure that you need to go in, you need to make decisions, you need to work with that advisor through things. And I think you just had some great insights and to some not just the financial challenges that widows faced, but how that relationship should look as they’re working with their financial advisor after this difficult period of time and there were some red flags. So, go ahead.
Kathleen Rehl: And one thing that I would suggest like in the early stage, yes, you may just take an 8.5 x 11-inch sheet of paper, fold it in thirds, and right now, soon and later. And some very, very pressing kinds of things could go in the now category, just a couple of things. And like with one of the examples that I use when I speak about this, it was a now kind of thing was to postpone the trip to Germany. She and her husband were going to go on an anniversary trip. Contact the tour agency and to postpone that trip. That a soon activity was to locate we knew where three of life insurance policies were, but she was sure that there was another one, and it was to locate that policy and also to file for death benefits through his employer. And like a later activity was going to be invest those proceeds. Oh, she could see, these are things that we need to do and I would have widows who had helped them remember also what it was that we talked about because otherwise, you go to the planner’s office and you’re leaving you remember maybe one thing.
And so, they would bring that sheet of paper back to the next meeting and I met short meetings and frequently. You know, I wasn’t waiting a month to meet with them. It was several I was meeting with them like every week or every other week and they would bring that sheet back and say, “Okay, now, I’ve done this, I’ve done this. What else should we add in this category?”
Casey Weade: So, and meeting with that financial advisors, you go back. This sounds very similar to what I went through with my mother-in-law from sitting down and having these basic discussions to finding life insurance policies that she felt might still be out there calling different carriers and filing for death benefits and then helping with the Social Security calls and all those things that just need to be done that are more of these now or soon items and then we eventually make this transition into later and I know as a certified financial planner and as a widow and as one that coaches financial advisors through how to interact with widows, you could probably pretty quickly recognize some red flags or give some advice to a widow on what types of things to look out for. If it doesn’t feel right, maybe it’s time to get a second opinion? Because the reality is the majority of widows will find a new financial advisor. They will not stay with their current advisor.
Kathleen Rehl: Yes, you read the research that 70% of all widows fire the advisor who were with their husband before his death. And I think that often is because there was not really a relationship with the wife. It was mainly, in fact, one gal said, “Yeah, my husband got his hot tips on the golf course with a financial advisor.” She had seen him one time only when they first met and then he just dealt with the husband. Didn’t bring her in the conversation. In fact, I share this in my story and my presentations to advisor. Anne came to see me and she said that after her husband died, his office did call her in and said there was some paperwork she needed to sign. So, she got to the office. She said she really never heard even been there except for that initial meeting time because her husband dealt with the advisor by himself and she got there and first thing he starts talking to her about is she should feel happy because she’s beating the market. Her portfolio was up and he puts out these charts and graphs and she said, “I never really understood those things before. You know, my husband would bring him home,” and she said, “I really didn’t understand them then.” And she said, “The whole time I was there, he never even used my late husband’s name. He never, never called Stanley by name. He just kept saying, ‘Your late husband. Your deceased husband,’ and I started to cry.”
And she said, “He really didn’t know what to do with me then.” And he said, “There, there, there, don’t worry your pretty little head. We’re going to take care of everything for you.” And she said, “At that point, I just lost it and I left the office and his secretary called the next day to make sure to reschedule the meeting because I hadn’t signed the paperwork.” She said, “I didn’t know what was in the paperwork. I wasn’t going to sign it but I told her I was busy,” and that’s why I talked to my good friend and she said, “You’ve been so helpful after her husband died. So, I just wonder, am I going to be okay, Kathleen? Can I still live in my house? Can I still help my daughter with her college education? Am I going to have to go back to work?” She didn’t care if she was beating the market. It was a case of the advisor didn’t know how to communicate with her, didn’t know where she was at this initial grief, was using clichés with her, wasn’t honoring the – he should have spent time talking about how wonderful Stanley was and every time he came to the door he’d have a funny joke to share with them or some memory of it.
We, widows, don’t want to have the world forget our husbands immediately. So, didn’t know how to really communicate. So, the advisors who really are I feel learning to work very, very effectively with widows are the ones who are slowing things down, who are, yeah, not pushing, not rushing. And so, she will be hounded and she’ll go to deposit that check, that insurance check at the bank. And somebody up in the teller line is going to see a big check and it’s going to suggest that, “Oh, Bob’s down the hall and can show you exactly what to do with this money,” and, “Oh, he’s available right now. I’ll send you down there with that $50,000 or $150,000 check.” The worst-case that I saw was my Aunt Eileen and she was in her 80s. She was sold Iraqi dinars by this nephew, this nice young man of a friend of hers from church who was coming through and he talked her into liquidating several CDs. She wasn’t a money person at all but liquidating some of her stuff and, of course, it was a scam and she just felt so stupid afterwards. And she said, “I should have known better than that.” But I teach widows the ABCs of, A, always ask questions.
Casey Weade: Well, let’s go there because I’ve got a question from one of our fans, Irene Woods, and she asked that. She said, “As a single woman, a widow looking for a financial advisor,” she said, “What are the questions to ask to make sure it is the right advisor for you?”
Specifically, as a widow, I mean, we can get out there online and google what we should be asking a financial advisor or fiduciaries, etcetera, but what should a single woman be looking for in a financial advisor? What kind of questions should they be asking?
Kathleen Rehl: All right. When the advisor is presenting like an investment or where she should put her money, I’d like to do that first like the ABC. A is always ask questions. Why are you recommending this investment for me? What are my alternatives? What are the fees and expenses involved in it? B, buyer beware. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. I would have widows come to me with the Sunday section of the paper with what looked like a CD that was paying 9% interest. And they wanted, “Let’s get those.” It wasn’t FDIC insured on it and I said, “Well, let’s just make a phone call to see what this.” Well, determined that, yes, it was paying 9% it was like for the first nine days, and then after that, it was going down to 0.009% and it was something like nine years before she could get her money out of it and she wanted just to believe that it was 9%. And there are Ponzi schemes out there. And then C was to actually use part of her money for self-care and good things and we do chocolate in our workshops, but we won’t do chocolate in this podcast.
Casey Weade: Right. So, C is self-care?
Kathleen Rehl: To care for herself.
Casey Weade: Care. Make sense. So, we’ve got ABC is always ask questions, buyer beware, and take care of yourself.
Kathleen Rehl: Care for yourself with some of the money. It doesn’t have to be really super expensive. It can be a walk in the park to listen to music like what I was doing or going out for lunch with a girlfriend.
Casey Weade: Go on a vacation.
Kathleen Rehl: A little vacation or I talked about a good touch. When I was around Tom, I didn’t realize how often, how many times a day touch or a little kiss or physical contact. When he was gone, that was gone and you’ve read the studies about with the babies when they’re not touched. They don’t do very well at all. So, I would suggest get your hair done more often, get your manicure, get a pedicure, get a massage, get good touch.
Casey Weade: That’s really interesting. Yeah. I think that’s some valuable advice. One of the things that you mentioned earlier was that cognitive abilities decline after you lose a spouse at least initially during that deep grief period.
Kathleen Rehl: Yes. I would have widows tell me, “I’ve got widows brain.” One lady said, “It’s like Jell-O green.”
Casey Weade: Well, I wondered, is this why you say that you should find a financial advisor that’s not a financial advisor, but a thinking partner is what you call that individual?
Kathleen Rehl: To help. Yes, to help you think. You had a husband before that you work through things that you talked it through, but you don’t have someone and so this advisor is not going to tell you what to do, not to worry your pretty little head but will help to discuss with you what your different options are, what the alternatives are like when I talked about the investments that were appropriate, when to give an example of one client that she came to me and her husband had been a very well-respected doctor before he retired. And in retirement, he took up a hobby of day trading. He didn’t do anything terribly bad, but this was before the big recession. And he had invested in some things that she did not understand at all. She said her gut-level was telling her it was too risky. Would I take a look at the portfolio? I said, “Sure.” So, she hands me the overall statements and I sorted things through and a couple of weeks later, she was back in my office and it was like 90% stocks. This is a woman who’s in her 70s, 90% stocks, and it wasn’t US stocks. Most of it was foreign stocks. And she got it. She said, “Oh my gosh, if something happened to the market like it would be devastating, Kathleen. Yes, we have to change it.”
So, we created the new using one jargon term investment policy statement, decide what would be best, where she should move it. She wanted secure streams of income. She wanted safety, security. She wanted to protect what she had. She still wants to grow. So, we had it all worked out and she’s in my office and we’re ready to start selling these risky stocks at the computer and I start the first sale and she said, “Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop. I can’t do this. I can’t do it.” I said, “Well, what’s going on?” She said, “It’s just like I’m slapping Jim in the face and saying everything you did for us is wrong and I’m willy-nilly going to change this.” It was like he was reaching out from the grave and controlling her and that’s not unusual. It can be with a vacation home. It can be with a business. It can be all kinds of things. But we had to revisit what our goals were and then we moved in, got out of that position, reposition her, and that was right before the market starts going south.
It was about six months later and it’s still going further south. She’s in my office and she said, “Kathleen, could we look up that what you call them ticker symbols of some of those investments I used to have?” We did. We looked them up and many of them had just gone belly up. She said, “Oh, thank God. We got out of that and we made the changes that are right for me.” And she said, “I’ll be with you. I’ll stick with you forever because you helped me to figure it out.” So, I could tell you many more stories like that. And so, I said, the caring, compassionate, empathetic advisor that works with her to figure out what’s going to be best for her.
Casey Weade: Well, when I heard you tell that story for the first time, it just brought me back to all the families I’m still working with to this day, right, the widows or the families who inherited funds from dad or their grandparents and they’re no longer appropriate or they’ve grown to a point where they’re becoming a financial danger and they need to be at least chopped away at and reduced. Or even with my mother-in-law that if she needed to sell the old trans-am, right, she didn’t want it. She didn’t need it. She needed the money. And yet she just, “You know, it’s bad. It’s not right. You know, we’re hurting dad’s memory.” And I wonder how you help anyone, not just widows, but how do you help individuals get over this attachment to things and stocks that are emotional in nature?
Kathleen Rehl: With this one gal that I told you about, we talked about what she really wanted, like legacy wise for her family. She wanted like she wanted to help this friend. There was a son who was in business and she wanted to be able to help him more and she knew if she didn’t have a solid base herself, she wasn’t going to be able to do this. And she wanted to create this legacy. She wanted to leave a positive legacy. She didn’t want to leave a mess of a legacy. And the possibility of her going bankrupt, if you will, what would be bankrupt, it would be belly up herself with financial problems and then being a burden on her family. She did not want that at all. So, it was like, “Okay, yeah. Let’s go down this road.”
Casey Weade: So, it’s really about asking the right questions and finding that thinking partner that can ask the right questions to say, “Well, why do you feel you still need the trans-am? What’s the ultimate goal with you in retirement? What if this doesn’t work out?” Just asking the right questions seems like the best role of an advisor.
Kathleen Rehl: And I would have some women like some of the questions I would have them ask the advisors and one of them was it had to do with how are you compensated? And at first, they say, “Well, I don’t know if that’s really polite to ask that question.” I would say, “It’s your money. Any question is on the table.”
Casey Weade: You’ll ask how much that vacation costs before you pay for it. It’s like the only place in the world where we’re uncomfortable with asking how much something costs is with our financial advisor. It’s probably one of the most expensive purchases you make every year.
Kathleen Rehl: Yes, yes.
Casey Weade: You know, I want to take you to the disinterested partner because I think this is a good transition because, you know, with some of those holdings that say that gal had, some of the stocks that he may have purchased, he was day trading. I mean, he was probably going to sell them at the end of the day. He may not have ever intended on holding on to those things for the next year or 10 years. He was going to get rid of them very quickly, the same day, but she was never brought into that meeting, never made part of the decision making, and didn’t know what the intentions actually were. And who knows the reason why she didn’t make herself part of that decision making. I don’t know. Maybe you know. But I find this quite often that it’s difficult to get a disinterested partner into the meeting. And David Bach was one of our past podcast guests, a nine-time New York Times bestselling author, and he said 85% of men will die married. And so why aren’t both parties brought into this discussion, and how do you get them interested?
Kathleen Rehl: Well, I remember I was at a luncheon. It was a Community Foundation. We were at roundtables and there were two other couples and I was there and it was their Heritage Society in which I was a member of. So, one day she’s looking at me, she’s looking at me, she’s looking at me and she said, “Ah, I know who you are. You’re the lady who wrote that book for widows,” because there had been in the Sneak Peak Times there have been a feature story in the business section on a Sunday on the book which had just come out, and me. And so, she had read that. She said, “You’re the lady who wrote that book but I’m never going to need to read your book because Harry takes care of all our finances, don’t you, Harry, right?” Looking over to Harry and Harry’s kind of picking away the salad. “And he’s so good at it. Aren’t you, Harry? You take such good care of me. Sometimes he says to me, ‘We need to talk about this money stuff,’ and I tell him, ‘Oh, I got to go pick up the grandkids or I’ve got a meeting at the hairdresser.’ That’s boring stuff for me. It’s absolutely boring.”
Casey Weade: I’ve heard it a million times.
Kathleen Rehl: “We’ve got a deal don’t we, honey? I get to die first.” And I’m looking at Harry and he’s obviously older than she is and he’s got a walker beside him at the table, and I’m betting he’s going to die first. And so, then she’ll be in a double whammy. She’ll be dealing with the grief of her husband, and she wouldn’t have one freaking clue about the finances and it’s just going to be very, very bad. Conversely, I had some clients who would come to me, here’s another beautiful story. He was a retired professor from the university, very smart guy, brought his wife in, and went to the preliminary meeting. And he said, “Yeah, we want to hire you.” And he told me, “The biggest reason that I want to work with you is so that my wife gets on board with this money stuff.” He said, “I can’t talk with her. She’s just totally disinterested, and maybe you can get through to her.” And I work with them for about a decade and what happened was he began going downhill and developed Alzheimer’s and then was institutionalized.
But by that time, she had picked up the reins and she knew and she said to me, “Kathleen, I feel very confident in all this because I learned about investments and about insurance and about estate planning.” She said, “I’ve got my notebook. I feel very, very comfortable with all this.” So, I had some clients that way. Now, I did things a little bit differently when I was a financial advisor, when I worked with a client. The deal was for the foundation year, that first year, if there were husband and wife or partners, both had to be involved in those meetings. Now, after that first year, one of them could pick up and take the lead if they wanted to. But for that first year, so I’ve had colleagues who said, “Oh, but then you missed some of the clients,” and there were some clients who just said, “My wife’s not interested. She won’t be here,” and I said, “Well, I’m sorry. I can’t work with you then.” And the research that we did, you probably saw my website. There’s a research tab and it talks about the peer-reviewed referring articles that have been published, which were there’s a lot more to be done. But in that research, many of the widows said that they were much less interested. They wish they had taken more of an interest in finances before their husband died.
Casey Weade: Sure. That’s absolutely true. You had mentioned at one point, I heard you tell a story about somebody that used to sit on the ground during your meetings.
Kathleen Rehl: Yeah.
Casey Weade: I said, “Well, that’s a creative way to do it.” Right? You know, if I want to get my wife involved and say, “Okay, I’m going to sit over here,” and I think he was playing with the cat and then you would work with the other spouse.
Kathleen Rehl: I’ve talked about the husband taking the lead. It’s not always that way. And in fact, for a period of time, because my husband was a Lutheran clergy and clergy have some real different kind of financial advice and things like there’s ways that they can take their 403b retirement money totally out tax-free. And so, I would work with clergy couples, and it was usually the wife who was on top of the finances more than the husband. She would almost sometimes be dragging him literally into my office for that preliminary meeting and he was like, “Oh, the Lord is going to provide. Everything’s just going great.” And she’d say, “The Lord has provided us with Kathleen who was a great financial advisor and we are going to work with her.” And so, it was…
Casey Weade: I think that was my favorite story. I’ve told all the advisors in our office about that because how many times do we hear that?
Kathleen Rehl: Yeah. That literally, they were a mix-matched couple. He was super tall and she was like wasn’t even 4’11’’ I don’t think and she had everything, all the numbers, all the book with all the stuff. He was a day laborer kind of a thing and it was like, “Oh yeah,” and they had remarried later in life. And he said, “I’m not interested in this stuff at all. So, you girls just have a good time,” and he would go sit down and he loved, Panther, my cat. And the first thing he come in he’s like, “Where’s Panther? Panther?” And he gets down and he just pet the cat. Sometimes he’d fall asleep there.
I had another couple, they drove quite a ways and this was one where the wife also was more on top of it, and her husband would be there for about the first 10 minutes or so. And then he’d say, “Okay, I’m going to go take a nap,” and I said, “Couch is right over there,” and so he goes in the other room and he would sleep and he really snore loudly but he said, “I’m here, I’m here.”
Casey Weade: I think the most important thing is beginning to create a relationship. It is what I’ve gotten out of that is get to know the person that you’re working with. So, if something happens, at least you know if you can trust them or not. There has to be some trust built and sometimes it doesn’t mean you have to talk about money and finances, investing in stocks and bonds all the time. It can be about much more than that, deeper, deeper questions and deeper discussion. Treat them like a friend.
Kathleen Rehl: Sometimes we would have these get-togethers, call them Sunday soirees. Oftentimes it was just women who would come together and it would be beverages and hors d’oeuvres or desserts, and then one financial topic to talk about. But one February, we did it for couples and it was like Love Last Forever, But Life Doesn’t. And what are the kinds of things you should be talking about? Well, some of these were clients. Some were like friends of clients. What are these things you should be talking about now? Like, what are the pins and passwords? Are the beneficiaries up to date on our insurance policies? Is the executor still alive? Who should we name in our will or all those kinds of things just to get conversation going? That was another piece that came out in the research, things that they wish they had talked about beforehand that they didn’t.
Casey Weade: Yeah. And I think that sometimes the position we find ourselves in as financial planners is almost marital counseling. We’re getting to know each one individually, making sure everything is out on the table so that we can start making some good decisions as a family and sometimes we have to figure out how to create that balance between those desires and goals.
Kathleen Rehl: Talk about marriage counseling, I had many couples who say, “This isn’t financial planning. It’s marital counseling.”
Casey Weade: Well, as a marital unit, you know, it’s going to have to be that way to a certain degree. We don’t have a whole lot of time left but there’s two things that I want to make sure we get to because I think, one, before we get to the second one, the first one was something that you said that your mother did, I believe, and that was writing a legacy letter and you wrote a legacy letter as well. This just seemed that I’d never heard it called legacy letter. I’ve heard things done similarly to this, but it sounded like it was something that really helped you. Could you just give us an overview of what that is and the impact it’s made in your life from you writing it and from just having that from your mom?
Kathleen Rehl: Yes. And this letter that she did write to the family, I still take it out and I read it about once a year. So, I can guarantee you I do not reread her will at all, the legal will. It’s a process that I took mom through and there is a little free booklet on my website in the tool section, Legacy Lifeprint, and so you can get a kind of a flavor for it there. There’s different sections. It’s like growing up as a child. These are things that were really important to me. Fun experiences, just things like that, put them together. And there are boxes. You just check, check, check, check, check. And when you get done, then what I did with my clients, if they wanted to do this process, they would check those boxes and they would give them back to me and I would weave them together in a story then they could edit it and add things they wanted to include that they hadn’t thought about before. And then I would polish off and give it back to them. Some of my clients, they weren’t happy just with the booklet, just checking the box and saying, “Okay, this is good enough.” But it’s things that were important to them and in my mom’s letter, there’s one thing that she said in the beginning and she said, “You know, we were a little worried about you for a while there, Kathleen, but you turned out okay.” But mom’s sense of humor was definitely in that.
And I’ve written my own. It’s actually time for me because of some major life event. I remarried last year, and…
Casey Weade: Congratulations. Tell Charlie I said the same.
Kathleen Rehl: Yeah. He probably had been widowed for 17 years and I was widowed for 12 years and we were together for eight years. Most people thought we were married already. And I had always said, “I’m not going to get married again. I’m not going to get married again. I don’t need to.” But then there were some things that changed and I thought that would be nice. And it is I’m enjoying married life. But anyway, it’s been about three years since I updated that letter. I’m in the process. This past year, I’ve updated lots of it. Like I’ve updated my trust, I’ve updated my will. There are lots of things that I’m…
Casey Weade: This is an unrelated document. It’s not a will. It’s not a trust.
Kathleen Rehl: Yes. Some of my clients when they created them, they were so happy. They were so pleased. They wanted to share them with the family before they die. So, one gal…
Casey Weade: My grandfather would do that.
Kathleen Rehl: Yeah. Good for morale. Like it was after Thanksgiving around the table, people were having their pumpkin pie and coffee. And she said, “I want to share something with you that I wrote.” And so, she read it to the family and we thought it was wonderful. In fact, one of her daughters asked, “Mom, can you get one of those booklets that you use because I want to write it now. There are some things that I want to write for my daughter,” that her granddaughter. So, she wanted to share hers ahead of time. My mother asked that her’s not be shared until after her death. And she knew like her death, she was in decline, and she knew she didn’t have much time and in fact, that’s when she polished, really polished the letter, and she said, “Don’t read this until after I’m gone,” so I didn’t share at all.
Casey Weade: I think it’s important to recognize. I mean, most of the time we don’t get to those documents or a legacy letter until it’s time to leave a legacy. At an appropriate time, or 65 or 75 or 85 and the reality is it can happen anytime. And right now, I don’t have my legacy letter written and I need to do that. We had a son that almost didn’t make it, had his own health issues, and he’s doing just fine. But that period of time made me question my own mortality. And I said, I need a financial planner and so I hired one, a backup plan for myself. And now I need to write this letter so I’m going to get onto that after this interview, but I have to ask you one last thing. I know we’re a little over time but hopefully, you have time to…
Kathleen Rehl: Oh, we’re not going to go on for two more hours?
Casey Weade: I could. I only got to about half of the questions that I have for you just because this is such a, you know, a topic that we encounter so often, it’s great to actually talk to somebody that’s not just a so-called expert but has actually lived it. But this to me, this is something that you talked about in one of your past interviews that I think it’s something that’s important for everyone to understand and know and that is the things that are said to you after you lose a loved one after, not just you lose a spouse, but after you lose a loved one, the words that people say because it’s such an uncomfortable time and I’ve been talking to my advisors about this, you know, after listening to you talk and I just want you to talk about the thing that I’m guilty of saying which is, you know, “I’m sorry for your loss.” How often I’ve said, “I’m sorry for your loss.” I’m guilty now of that, and I feel guilty for saying it because I didn’t know anything else to say. And you had some wonderful points here.
Kathleen Rehl: It’s very common. People say it because they don’t know what else to say and it’s a filler. It’s just like, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” If you think about that, if you say to me, “Kathleen, I’m so sorry for your loss,” you’re talking about your own sorrowfulness that you feel bad. And I had so many people that said that to me, I got to the point where I wanted to say, “Not half as sorry as I am.” It’s better off to talk about a memory of that person. “Oh, my gosh, look around this church. All the plants and the trees that he was on, that he planted they’re just going to be there forever.” Or, “The beautiful things that were spoken about Frank at the service, my goodness,” or if you didn’t know him before, you can say something like, “Unfortunately, I never met Frank before. How would you like others to remember him?” All the clichés like, “Well, at least you had 19 good years together.” No. I wanted 25 years. I wanted 30 years. “Well, at least you have your children.” That’s not the same as my husband. “Well, at least he didn’t suffer long.” How is that supposed to help me?
Casey Weade: He’s in a better place.
Kathleen Rehl: Yeah. He’s in a better place right now and that you don’t know what the beliefs are of a person or just sending a card and by frilly Hallmark card that has all kinds of poetry written in and sign it.
Casey Weade: You say, “God needs another angel.”
Kathleen Rehl: Yes. That’s what I heard and maybe it was because Tom was a pastor, and they felt that that would help to comfort me. No. Drop the clichés and just talk about a nice memory.
Casey Weade: Oh, I really appreciate that. That was so relieving for me to I finally feel like I know, you know, a direction to have and what to say.
Kathleen Rehl: You can say, “I am at a loss. I don’t know what to say to you. This is so painful.” I mean, you can commit.
Casey Weade: Yeah. Well, I appreciate that. And we could continue this conversation, but I know you have to go and I’ve got to go and maybe we’ll reconvene in another time and continue this conversation. I really appreciate your time. But I want you to leave me with this because in my eyes, you’ve retired a couple of times, you know, selling your financial advisory practice, going on this kind of roadshow, and now you’re getting ready to retire again. And so, I just want to know what’s Kathleen’s definition of retirement.
Kathleen Rehl: Yeah. Talking about retirement. I supposed you couldn’t say retired from being a farm girl and a student and then I went out. I was a public school teacher and I retired from that then I became a college professor, did that until I got tenure, retired from that then I segued into the nonprofit sector. I did that for 12 years, cut my teeth on a lot of this financial stuff, retired from that. Got my CFP, opened up my financial planning business, did that for 17 years retired from that. Then I started the encore career that I’ve done for seven years and that’s been speaking and teaching and writing and doing research on widows and money. And now that phase is winding down as I start my 74th year on January 10, 2020. I am going into refirement.
Casey Weade: Ooh, I like that. Tell me more. What’s refirement?
Kathleen Rehl: We can do a whole session on it. It’s a process that I’ve taken myself through. Part of it comes from coaches, part of it comes from literature, but I have worked out like five facets. I have to look because I haven’t got it memorized yet. There’s family, fun play, focus, purpose, French, and fitness and there are things underneath that. And I wrote, this is a short – I’m not going to read the other poem, but I’m going to read this poem because it goes with a transitioning to retirement. “After Tom’s death, I was a grieving spouse only surviving. As a widow hard-working and trying. Now a wise woman, a wife moving forward and embracing the next joyful chapter with Charlie. Loving this phase. Yes, I’m refiring. And looking at what I really, really want for this next chapter of my life.” And it’s an exciting time. And I’ve already segueing into that. Somebody said, “Oh, you’re going to miss doing all this public speaking,” and I’ve said, “No, because I’ve got these other wonderful things that I’m doing.”
Casey Weade: Getting fired up about retirement. I like it. So well, thank you so much, Kathleen, and I look forward to catching up again soon.
Kathleen Rehl: This was fun. Thanks a lot.