361: Advice on Financial Independence, Building Wealth and Living Regret-Free from Hospice Doctor, Jordan Grumet MD
Today, I’m talking to Dr. Jordan Grumet. Jordan is an associate medical director at JourneyCare Hospice, a financial blogger turned host of the award-winning Earn & Invest Podcast, and the author of Taking Stock: A Hospice Doctor’s Advice on Financial Independence, Building Wealth, and Living a Regret-Free Life.
In his book, he shares what the end of life can teach us about the secret to financial independence and how to make every moment count. People have so many questions about money, whether it’s better to save for the future or enjoy what we have earned today, and we’ll discuss some of those age-old questions on today’s podcast.
In our conversation, we dig into how death has informed his unique perspective in finance, why the questions so many people ask at the end of their lives are the ones you should be asking right now, and the tactics and strategies you can use to be more intentional about both your money and your time.
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In this podcast interview, you’ll learn:
- How losing his father at the age of seven informed Jordan’s perspective on finance.
- What Jordan learned from talking to hospice patients about their successes, failures, and what they still aimed to accomplish with the life they had left.
- Why Jordan doesn’t believe in the YOLO mindset–but has become a lot less anti-YOLO through his work.
- Why net worth almost never comes up when talking to people who have a limited amount time left–and how this shows us what really matters.
- How to create a fixed-time schedule that frees you up to focus more on what matters most to you.
- Why Jordan thinks people who embrace the FIRE movement have the same problems as those who save for 30 years, then can’t spend.
- Who to talk to when you need to make end-of-life choices.
- "I think the whys and the purpose can come from other people but you also have to realize that often your sense of purpose actually comes from yourself." - Jordan Grumet
- "Time passes no matter what you do. The best we can do is create these meaningful, purposeful activities during that time, as time passes." - Jordan Grumet
- Jordan Grumet on Twitter
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- Earn & Invest on Twitter
- Earn & Invest on YouTube
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- Earn & Invest Podcast
- Taking Stock: A Hospice Doctor's Advice on Financial Independence, Building Wealth, and Living a Regret-Free Life by Jordan Grumet, Vicki Robin
- JourneyCare Hospice
- Tim Ferriss
- The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss
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Casey Weade: Hello. This is Casey Weade, host of the Retire With Purpose Podcast, where it’s our mission to help others gain clarity and purpose and elevate meaning in your life through personal and practical financial strategies. We do that in a couple of different ways. Every single Friday. Marshall Johnson, my good friend and I, we get together and we have a discussion around a trending topic, and those topics largely come from our weekend reading email, tons of resources, got to get that resource, and it's super easy to sign up to get that weekly email. Just shoot us a text, key letters: WR to 866-482-9559. But then we have these conversations. Every other Monday, we are bringing on one of our world-class guests for a long-form interview where we cover a litany of different types of topics that we pertain to the financial and the non-financial side of retirement and finance. Today, we're going to hit on a little bit of both. I think largely we're going to be talking about that non-financial side of retirement. And we have an amazing guest from an amazing background, a very unique perspective that's going to be able to bring a lot of awesome things into this conversation.
If you're joining us on Facebook Live, I encourage you to drop those questions that you have as they pop up throughout the conversation right into the comments section. Those will be served up to me and then I will serve them on over to Doc G today. So, please drop those questions in there. We’ll answer as many of those as we possibly can. Hey, and if you're not following us live on Facebook Live, what's going on? Check us out at Facebook.com/HowardBailey, and you'll be able to subscribe and get notified of all of our upcoming interviews. And, heck, as a Weekend Reading subscriber, you're getting notified early and you get to submit your questions early. And we have some great questions that came from our weekend reading subscribers for this interview with Dr. Jordan Grumet, otherwise known as Doc G Jordan, Dr. Grumet. I think we're going to run with all of those different topics today. I don't know what we're going to call you but I'm going to go with Doc G Jordan. He is an associate medical director at JourneyCare Hospice. He has a medical degree from Northwestern University.
He is a financial blogger turned podcast host of the award-winning Earn & Invest Podcast. Fantastic podcast. Make sure you go check it out. We're going to have all these links in the show notes so you can go back and go directly to that Earn & Invest Podcast. Our conversation is largely going to focus around Jordan's book, Taking Stock: A Hospice Doctor's Advice on Financial Independence, Building Wealth, and Living a Regret-Free Life. What a concept.
Casey Weade: So, Jordan, welcome to the podcast.
Jordan Grumet: Casey, thank you so much for having me and thank you for your kind words.
Casey Weade: I'm excited to have this conversation. I think it's a unique one. Yeah, I think we've had many individuals come and have conversations with us from the medical industry, and some that have even gotten out of the medical industry in the financial industry, much like yourself. But nobody from the hospice world and I love how you bring so much of your unique perspective and experience from a place that is truly meaningful, a place that can bring a lot of individuals a better idea of how to live a fuller life today rather than later. But before we get into the book, before we talk a little bit about, say, hospice care, I know this journey kind of started with you with the loss of your father. And I wanted to ask, how did the loss of your father give you a unique perspective as a financial expert also?
Jordan Grumet: So, my father died when I was seven years old. He had a brain aneurysm, so he died suddenly. He was a physician and oncologist, that means someone who treats cancer patients. And he was rounding at the hospital. He had a horrible headache and he collapsed and died within the day. And so, this gave me a really interesting perspective on myself because being a seven-year-old the way a lot of seven-year-olds are, I saw the world through the lens of my own eyes. And so, I thought everything had to do with me. So, when he died, I thought that somehow was my fault. And so, the way I cosmically fixed this problem of being responsible for my dad's death at such a young age is I decided I was going to be a doctor, too. So, interestingly enough, his death made me think that money wasn't important at all. Like, when I was a young kid, I had no interest in money. I had no interest in wealth. Really, I had the sole focus and purpose of becoming a doctor, which served me quite a bit. It kind of was the impetus to study hard in high school, to go to college, to get good grades. When everyone is out at the Michigan University or Michigan football game at the big house, I was in the library studying.
And I became a doctor and thought really that I had met all my goals. Again, things like money weren't interesting to me at all until I burned out. And I found that being a doctor wasn't all that I had hoped it was that the good part of helping people was still there but a lot of it wasn't the good part. It was administrative work. It was arguing with insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies. It was dealing with administration and sometimes even dealing with patients who weren't quite really happy to see you, and that's when I started thinking about money. So, I think my dad kind of his death pushed me into becoming a doctor, and it gave me that sense of purpose. But when I found that purpose wasn't serving me anymore, I got very interested in money because I was looking for a way out of this practice of medicine that was no longer feeling good. In fact, it was feeling bad. I only had the skills of being a physician. It was the only thing I had ever been trained to do. So, I didn't know how to make money outside of being a physician. So, then the other answer is you need to accrue enough money, have enough net worth so that money works for you and that you can stop working. And that led to me starting to really learn about personal finances.
Casey Weade: You know, it's interesting to see that your father passed away when you were seven, and I could see someone pass away early would drive someone to create financial independence earlier on in their life so that they can live a bigger life and be there for their children someday. I know for me that was a big driver. Not that my father passed away but he wasn't there. He was always working as a kid and I have so many memories of him not being there and not being able to be there when I wanted him to be there. And he recognizes that. You know, he comes back and he says he actually does have a lot of regrets around that part of his life. And for me, I said, I'm never going to do that. You know, I'm going to find financial independence as quickly as I can so I can actually be there for my children, that I can be present and be able to go to the games and do the things and be a bigger part of their life than my dad could be because he had to work so many hours because he hadn't reached that financial independence yet. Was there any part of that element that creeped in for you?
Jordan Grumet: So, my dad was an interesting financial model, and I've had a few financial models because my mom eventually went into the workplace and she became a real financial model for me as well as my stepdad when my mom remarried. But my dad really taught me two very interesting things. Certainly, one was exactly that. I realized that life is finite, it's short, and that I didn't know how much time I was going to get with my own kids and spouse so that I needed to be reticent to spend all my time doing something I didn't like as opposed to spending time with them. So, that was part of it. The other interesting financial model about my father is he was a pretty unique person because he had an intuition, a gut feeling that he was going to die early. In fact, he told my mom when he married her, he said, “Look, I've always felt like I wasn't going to live a full life, that I was going to die young.” Because of that, my dad didn't really worry much about the long term. I mean, he did in the sense that he got life insurance for us and he wanted to make sure that my mom and us as kids were protected. But other than that, he spent a lot of time doing things he loved and he enjoyed. I mean, he traveled a lot. He had all sorts of hobbies.
When he finished his fellowship in oncology, he got offered a very lucrative private practice job, which he passed up to work at the VA System, which was the academic center that he had trained at. And he did that because although he's going to be paid a lot less, it gave him more time to do the things he liked and it gave him more time outside of the office. So, he gave me that model, too, of someone who realized that life is finite and tried to enjoy whatever wealth and time he had. So, he gave me both of those models in an interesting way.
Casey Weade: You have a lot of experience with death and mindsets and what I hear you say, I hear people say this all the time, “Well, I'm not going to live that long. I'm going to die early.” My father passed away early. My grandfather passed away early. So, I'm not going to live past 80 or I'm not going to live past 85 or I'm going to die at 85. And I think of that as kind of like Think and Grow Rich, think and die young. And I wonder, have you seen any reality of that and about how mindset affects longevity?
Jordan Grumet: So, I don't know if that's true or not. Certainly, it was true for my father, and certainly, I've always thought that I was going to live long, so my financial worries were much different than my father's. So, I don't know if that's true or not. Certainly, I think that knowing and believing these things in your heart probably makes them more likely to happen. On the other hand, I also think that we can pivot and use those feelings and that knowledge to actually make much better financial decisions. It's something I often talk about is this idea of if you're afraid that you're going to die young and not enjoy your wealth, that tells you something about who you are and how you should spend money today. On the other hand, if you're like me, who's afraid that you're going to live long and run out of money, that also tells you something. And the reason why we should be thinking about where we fall on that spectrum is each and every one of us, no matter how much money we make and no matter how good of a financial framework we build, all of us still have to question every day, “Should I spend my money now or should I save it for later?”
So, you're saving up your nest egg, you're preparing for retirement, and that wonderful car that you've always wanted to buy comes up on eBay or Facebook Marketplace or whatever, and it's a little more than you can afford. On the other hand, you're passionate about this car. You've been dreaming about it for ten years. Every one of us has to ask ourselves that question all the time. Should I buy it now? You only live once. YOLO. Let's enjoy our wealth. God knows you could die young at 40 like my father or if I'm going to live a long retirement and maybe I should pass up on that car because I want that freedom to not worry about money when I'm older. That's like a huge question, and no one can really answer that for you but a good way to start answering that question is to contemplate exactly this. Since we don't know the exact day we're going to die, there's no way to calculate that, right? You just don't know. So, a good proxy for that and I should say, if we knew when we were going to die, we could spend exactly the right amount to have zero when we die or at least have whatever we want to leave for our kids. Since we don't know that, the best proxy we have is what scares us the most.
So, for my dad, it scared him in a sense that he was going to die young and maybe wouldn't enjoy that life he had. So, he was a little bit looser with his money. Whereas me, I'm a little afraid that I'm going to live long and run out of money, so I'm going to put a little bit more towards retirement and maybe my YOLO fund will be a little bit less. So, if you're careful, those feelings, those gut feelings about what you think your life expectancy is going to be can actually help you spend better today.
Casey Weade: Yeah. I don't want to miss out on setting the stage as well as we possibly can here, and we're already getting into great stuff. And what are we talking about? We're already talking about death and the value of talking about death and making sure that we're cognizant of those things. You know, being a hospice doctor for so long, I know and I could probably put in my own words here where I think the value of that is in so many different aspects of life. But I would love to hear, before we get any deeper, why you feel that the viewpoint that you have as a hospice doctor is so unique and valuable in the realm of finance and life in general.
Jordan Grumet: I think if you kind of hear some of my story, it starts to make sense. When I got burned out in medicine, I started looking at my financial life and trying to figure out, "Well, how can I escape from medicine because it was no longer serving me?” I went down the rabbit hole of financial independence and the FIRE, Financial Independence Retire Early, movement. I read a bunch of books and blogs and podcasts and listened to them, etcetera. And what I realized is that I was probably financially independent already. I probably already had enough money. I had just never had the vocabulary to understand it and then utilize it to do what I wanted with my life. Now, while you would think that I would be incredibly enthusiastic and happy when that happened, it was actually the opposite. I had a panic attack and I was quite depressed for 4 to 6 months. And the reason why is all of a sudden, I had the financial fuel I needed to do what I wanted with my life. I could leave medicine because it wasn't serving me anymore. And what I realized is I had no idea what the heck I really wanted to do with my life. I had hung my hat on the purpose of being a doctor, the identity of being a doctor, and the concept of leaving that petrified me.
And so, the way I dealt with that is I did a few things. One is I started getting rid of the parts of being a doctor I didn't like but keeping a lot of it because I didn't know how to separate myself from that identity so quickly. So, I decided to do it piecemeal. But the other thing is I went down that rabbit hole of personal finances and I started writing about it. I started a blog called Diversify.com and it was my personal diary, my accountability journal, where I was trying to figure out, “So, what does this money mean in my life? How do I develop now a sense of purpose? How do I feel safe with the amount of money I have?” all of these things, and that blog led to a podcast. And on my podcast, I was having all these experts on. I was having people who are experts in finance, people who are entrepreneurs, people who are part of the FIRE movement. And I didn't want to talk about the 101 issues like how to build wealth because there are so many people doing that in such a great way already. What I wanted to do was talk about the 201. Like, what do we do next? What happens when our financial futures are more secure? How does that actually lead to a good life?
And I was finding that a lot of these experts didn't necessarily have the answer. Like, you own 1,000 doors of real estate and you're making $1 million a year, and yet you're planning to buy a thousand more over the next five years. Why? How is that serving you? Do you really need that extra money? The things I couldn't find from my financial experts, I was strangely and unexpectedly learning them from my hospice patients. So, when I was going to take care of my hospice patients and these people were given six months or less to live, it was like all of a sudden the curtain had opened and they saw their life with a completely new perspective. Like, all the societal norms, all the things that people had told them they should be, even all of their own yearnings for money or titles at jobs, all those kind of things fell away. And what they really started to think about is, “I only have six months left. What's really important to me?” Like, what I haven't accomplished? What do I want to do in these six months? And we do something called the Life Review with hospice patients where we actually talk through their lives with them and we ask them things like, “What was important to you? What were your biggest successes? What were your biggest failures? What were those key relationships in your life? What do you hope to accomplish in whatever life you have left?”
And I found that my hospice patients could really inform that financial community that was struggling with these exact same questions. The differences in my financial community, they weren't on their deathbed. So, the problem is when you find out you have a life-limiting diagnosis, you have limited time to do all those things that you never put your mind to. And so, my hospice patients were saying, “I really regret that I never had the energy, courage, or time to do X,” whatever that was. “I never had the energy or courage or time to be my authentic self.” And so, I wanted to take that message and bring it to much younger people, bring it to people in their twenties, bring it to people in their fifties who are contemplating leaving their job and yet were afraid what would they do with themselves once they did that. If we could start thinking about those things now instead of waiting when we're on our deathbed, we could actually figure out why we were working so hard to make all this money in the first place and use that money in service of living a better life. And so, that's how kind of the hospice community tied into the financial community, two disparate fields that you think would have nothing to do with each other. When I tell people, well, I'm a financial expert and I'm a hospice doctor, they kind of look at me funny. But actually, I found that the knowledge works well together.
Casey Weade: Yeah. No. There's so much in there. And what I saw in there is almost a framework that someone could follow. You first shared that you started cutting out what you didn't like. I think many times we make this transition, say, from doctor to retiree and we get rid of everything. And the reality is there's a process you can go through to say, "Well, what do I really enjoy about what I like? How do I cut out all the things that I don't like?” and slowly just spend more time and what might be described as your unique ability or maybe even going as far as your purpose, which can be embedded in a larger role. We just have to get rid of a lot of those other things that we don't enjoy. So, we started cutting down things that you don't enjoy. And then you said you started journaling, started writing, you started getting a better, clearer picture, and correct me if I'm wrong, of where your mind was, what you were actually thinking. And that had to happen through reflection and journaling and writing and gaining confidence financially is what I saw there as number three. And then you get to number four and it's purpose research through mentors. So, cutting out what we don't like, doing our journaling, self-reflection, gaining confidence financially, and then finding mentors to gain the answer of why.
Jordan Grumet: I think all that's true. Just remember that you are also one of those mentors when it comes to yourself. So, I think the whys and the purpose can come from other people but you also have to realize that often your sense of purpose actually comes from yourself. I believe we all have these whisperings of the things that are important to us and often we don't pay attention to them throughout our lives. I love to give the example of asking people, “When was the last time you woke up in the middle of the night with a crazy idea and you were so excited that you couldn't go back to sleep?” And then what happened the next day? And the answer often is, "The next day, I got busy at work, reality set back in, and I never thought about it again,” or at least let go of my game plan that I had figured out the night before about this thing that was so exciting to me. Often, we hold the keys to what's important to us and we find every reason in the world not to pursue them. And so, when you start doing some of that purpose work, about what purpose looks like in your life, when you say, "Okay. My finances feel stable enough that I can really work on purpose,” and by the way, I think we should be working on purpose way before our finances are stable.
But unfortunately, like me, most of us get to the point where we have to feel confident in our finances to start thinking about it. And then we have to go back and really listen to those whisperings. What are those kind of things in childhood that excited us that we let go of? What are those things we dream about? What are those secret skills or ideas that we don't tell anyone because we're embarrassed or we tell ourselves that that's not what grownups do or we tell ourselves, “You can never make a living doing that.” Those are the things the dying bring up when they're given a terminal diagnosis. It's those little whisperings.
Casey Weade: And I love that you're doing this with younger individuals. And I think that is what you're saying. So, you speak of much to the FIRE movement, etcetera. And I wish I would have had more thoughts, not just about finding financial independence and success but finding purpose and meaning and happiness in life. But, yeah, that came after because it became a necessity after you found the financial independence. I love that you're bringing that to a younger crowd. So, often we're not thinking about purpose until we find financial independence. Often we're not thinking about purpose until we're on our deathbed. And maybe it's not purpose but it's all the things that I would have done. You said you had this revelation that once death wasn't a what-if but a certainty, there was no longer an excuse to put off passions and that you wanted to pursue, trips you wanted to take because time became more precious. And my question is always, do we have to be on our deathbed and do we have to be on her deathbed to get a very clear picture of what we want to do right now? We're supposed to live like there's no tomorrow. But how do we do that if we know there's a good chance there's going to be a tomorrow?
Jordan Grumet: So, we don't have to wait until people are on their deathbeds. And let me tell you, so we do this life review process with people on their deathbeds and then when we do uncover some of these things, what we're doing is we're waiting for what I call the deus ex machina, right? It's a term and it's the last-minute plot twist that fixes everything. So, if you wait until you're on your deathbed to start thinking about what's important to you, you might get lucky. We might be able to repair some of those relationships. We might be able to find a way for you to feel some peace with those things you never got to do. That's that last-minute plot twist that fixes everything. Why I wrote this book is I want to save everyone from having the need for that last-minute plot twist. I want to have people start thinking about these things now. The perspective of the dying helps guilt us into thinking about these things now, and that's the whole purpose of it. I want 23-year-olds to do that. But let's be honest, the world isn't full of 20-year-olds. Most of the people listening right now and a lot of my audience are people in their forties and fifties and sixties, and a lot of those people are already thinking it's too late.
And let me tell you, after sitting with the dying and helping them at least meet some of their expectations and hopes, it's nowhere near too late when you're 50 or 60 or 70. These are the times to really start thinking about these things. So, yes, we don't have to wait until we're on our deathbed. We should be thinking about these things now. I just like that question that comes from the deathbed to wake us up and get us to start thinking about these things earlier.
Casey Weade: When you've written that you don't believe in YOLO, you only live once, you believe and we only die once but we live many lives over and over again. Can you expand on that?
Jordan Grumet: So, I was very, very anti-YOLO, especially when I started in personal finance. And the reason why is if you act like you only live once and you use all your financial resources when you're young or just when you get the emotional need without thinking it out, the problem is we live many lives, right? So, when you're young, you have your single and bachelor life and then you might get married and you have your married life and then you have kids and you might have your kids life and then you might hit retirement and you have your retirement life. These are all new lives. And if you over-YOLO, you use all your fuel and all your finances and you don't want to be underfunded when you have kids and want to go on a vacation or when you are retired and you're exhausted and you don't want to work anymore. So, I was very anti-YOLO in the beginning and that led to this idea, “Well, you don't only live once. You only die once.” But dealing with the dying also helped me see that YOLO is not a horrible thing either. The idea is to be thoughtful and intentional. There are times when we should use our money for those once-in-a-lifetime experiences or even that thing that we really love, that we identify or connect with. The point is that we really need to bring this conversation of purpose back into this.
So, the idea is, are these things, are these experiences, is YOLO-ing fulfilling my purpose without ruining the chance to do that in the future? And if the answer is yes, then I think we should go for it. If the answer is no, then I think we have to be intentional about creating a life in which our money and purpose support each other because money is just a tool and it's one of many tools but the purpose of money is to help us live the lives we want to live. That's it. The purpose of money is not to get to some net worth number. It's not so that you can invest more in real estate or in the stock market, etcetera. All those things are good but the real purpose of money is to do those things we want to do. And so, the question is, how do we help money or how do we place money in service of doing those things that are really deeply important to us? So, I've changed a little. I'm not totally pro-YOLO now but I'm a lot less anti-YOLO than I was. And how could I not be? Like, when I'm seeing people on their deathbeds who would just give anything to have one more experience or a little more time, how can I tell a 25-year-old or a 35-year-old, "You shouldn't go on that vacation. You shouldn't pursue that thing that's important to you and spend a little money on it?” I couldn't do that and be authentic.
Casey Weade: Yeah. So, the question is often, how do we find the balance? Now, we're supposed to live once. We're supposed to live in the moment but I also have these things I should be planning for in the future. And it's not that there's an equation for that. There isn't such a thing as maybe striking that perfect balance but I think what you're saying is it's an awareness. It's bringing the thought and intentionality into the conversation. It's about the conversation with yourself and with others about what it means to live life today.
Jordan Grumet: Yeah. And use that proxy question that I come back to you. Are you more afraid of dying young and wealthy and not getting what you want to do in life or are you more afraid of living a long life and dying broke? Because if you figure out where you stand on that continuum, then you can make some real choices about how to spend money today. So, again, let's think about this. If you were like my dad and you thought you were going to die young then let's say you make $100,000 a year and 50,000 goes to expenses you can't do anything about. So, you have 50,000 left over. If you're afraid that you're going to die young and wealthy, take 90% of what's left over and YOLO. I mean, go have fun. Do what you want. Take the other 10% and put it towards retirement savings. If you do that because you're worried that you're going to die young and not enjoy your wealth, let's run out the scenarios. One of two things can happen. You might be right. And if you're right and you die young, then you spent 90% of your money doing cool, fun stuff that really fulfilled a sense of purpose as much as you can. You won the game.
Let's say you're wrong and you live to 85. Well, it's true, you're not going to retire at 50 if you're only saving 10% of your income. But the other side of that is you've been using 90% of your extra income to YOLO the whole time. You're living a pretty good life. So, you might not retire to 70 or 75 but you're taking those extra vacations. You're buying those things that are important to you. You're doing pretty well. So, again, that question, the proxy, that helps us. If you're on the other side of that and you're like, “I'm afraid of dying old and broke,” then save 90% of your money and put it towards retirement and then YOLO with 10%. If you're right and you live long, you're going to have a long retirement. You'll retire early, you'll have plenty of money. If you're wrong and you die young, that's probably the worst of all the scenarios but at least then you had kind of the dreams of what you're going to do with your money as well as you were spending some money on YOLO. So, there's no way you're going to get it right. There's no way you're going to be exactly right and know exactly how much to spend today and exactly how much to save. So, it really becomes a question of values and fears. And that's kind of how I want people to frame the conversation.
Casey Weade: That's beautiful. And I think there are two things that I want to point out. One, I think many times you say, "All right. Well, then YOLO the other 50,000 and people think of, well, stuff and things. Well, I'm not a stuff-and-thing person. I don't need a lot of stuff around. I don’t need a lot of experiences. I'm not wasteful with my money. It's not all about stuff and things. It can also be helping other people. It could be giving that money away and being able to enjoy giving those funds away to people who need it most when they need it the most. And all of this comes down and really creates a different type of compound effect. All right. We'll just talk about compound interest. You talked about the compound effect from the nonfinancial side of things as well.
Jordan Grumet: Yeah. And so, let me give you a story that I think really drives this home. And I talk about this in the book is I had a patient name Ernesto and Ernesto was in I think it was his late twenties. He was in corporate America. He was really hitting that point where he's starting to make more money. He was moving up. And he did something no one could understand. He decided to leave work for a year to train and then to go try to climb Mount Everest. And he said, “This is important to me. This is the thing I want to do. I know I'm in the midst of making a lot of money.” But in a sense, he did a little bit of YOLO. He said, "This is important enough for me. I'm going to try to do this.” I met Ernesto in his forties and he was dying of leukemia and all he wanted to talk about to us or the hospice nurses, etcetera, is his trip on the mountain. He wanted to talk about what it felt like. He would tell us stories. He would regale the hospice nurses with all sorts of stories about Mount Everest. Imagine if he hadn't had the courage to do what he wanted to do in his twenties. Imagine if he had said, “You know what, I'll do it when I'm financially independent. I'll do it when I'm more established at work. I'll wait until I'm 40 or 45.” You know, he would have never, ever had those experiences.
And here's the funny thing. So, you know what happened when he was in his twenties? He got to Mount Everest. He climbed about halfway up and the weather changed and they had to go back down. He didn't even succeed. But the thing was, it wasn't the success or the failure that mattered. It was the fact that he had the courage to do something that was deeply important to him. And so, we talk about investments compounding and we talk about investments paying dividends but I'd like to suggest that following your purpose and these things that are important to you, if you pursue them, those also compound in the form of memories and joy and stories. And so, when he was on his deathbed, those were the dividends that he kept on receiving this kind of memories and the joy and the being up there doing what he really wanted to do. And so, again, YOLO as an economic concept is not so great but if we're not intentional about what's purposeful to us, we're not really investing correctly. And so, I'm not talking about investing money. I'm talking about investing ourselves.
Casey Weade: I wonder how much of, I mean, we think it's an economic concept. I think it largely comes out in that way. When you think about all the individuals that you've seen on their deathbed, I would venture to guess their top regret isn't like what Jack Welch said. I'm sure you know what Jack Welch said on his way to the hospital. He had a heart attack and he said, “Damn it, I wish I would have spent more money.” Do you hear that often? Does it really come back to money? I don't know that most are going to go, “Damn it, I wish I would have spent more money.” It seems like there would be a different most common regret but what do you often see?
Jordan Grumet: So, I rarely hear people say, “I wish I worked more.” I rarely hear people say, “I wish I had hit that net worth goal that I never made it to.” I wanted to make $500,000 and it was only worth 250, right? No one says that. When people do talk about money, often it's more about how money didn't serve their purpose like, “I wish I had made more money so I could have left more money to my children because they're struggling right now and I want to help my grandson go to college.” Do people wish they spent more money? Only in a sense that they wish they spent more money towards doing things that were important or purposeful for them. Often what they really regret and it's different for every person but the echoes are always the same, “I regret that I never had the energy, courage, or time to do these important things, these things that were important to me, these things that helped define me,” and that's different for everybody. For some people, it's a hobby. For other people, it's a relationship. For some people, it's an achievement, “I wish I wrote that book. I wish I summitted Mt. Everest,” whatever that may be. It's different for each person.
And again, if you're afraid of… What happens, a lot of times we don't do these things that are really, really important to us because we're afraid we're not going to succeed. But I can tell you from dealing with the dying, it wasn't whether they succeeded or failed. It was whether they had the courage to give it their best. And so, you can't lose on some level. If you start thinking about purpose now, even if ultimately you “fail” at doing that thing that was really important to you, I don't think that's what matters in the end. What matters is that you were in the arena and gave it your best and I think that's what I hear over and over again. So, only money plays a role. Well, there's two times. Money plays a role when you have absolutely so little that you're suffering from it so you have no money, so you have food insecurity or location insecurity. So, those things, people are going to say, "Wow. I wish I had a little more money.” That's one time. And then the other time people bring it up, it's more as a proxy to, “I wish I had more money so I could have done X with it,” and that X is more about kind of the purpose.
Casey Weade: When I'm thinking that X is probably more about time. You said there are energy, courage, and time that it's energy, courage, and time are the things that they wish they would have had. You had a chapter in your book on time and money. So, are these two things interchangeable?
Jordan Grumet: They are not. So, what I say in the book, and I say often is you can't commoditize time. Time is static and unchangeable. So, time passes no matter what we do. And in the American language, in the English language, we often try to exchange them like money is time. We spend money or we waste money, or sorry, we spend time doing something or we waste time doing other things. So, we use these words that make them sound like they're interchangeable but they're not. Time passes no matter what you do. You have control over two things. One is your perception of time, and we can talk about that in a little bit but the other thing which I think is more important is we have a little bit of control over what activities were involved in as time passes. So, time passes no matter what you do. The best we can do is create these meaningful, purposeful activities during that time, as time passes. And so, how do you win the game of life? You fill up as many of those timeslots because life is a series of timeslots that we have no control over that pass. You win at the game of life when you fill up as many of those timeslots with meaningful and purposeful activities as possible, and you get rid of as many dreadful or bad things that you don't like doing. You get rid of as many of those activities during those timeslots. And that's it. Life is a series of timeslots. The question is, how are you going to fill them because it's passing no matter what you do?
Casey Weade: That’s an interesting take on that, and I don't think I've looked at it that way. I think as a business owner, I'm always thinking of time as money and exchanging time and money. They seem very interchangeable in the world that I find myself in. I said, "Well, I'm going to pay somebody to do that so that I can go do this.” Writing that check frees up my time and looking at say, you know, what you earn an hourly basis and saying, "You know, is this something that's worth my time? Should I have someone else fill in this slot?” I mean, just in general, we think about time and money all the time. I think as business owners, we often think of it in that particular light and then as retirees. I think retirees, maybe they miss this but they are exchanging quite often time and money or money for time. You talk about the one-more-year syndrome or golden handcuffs and say, “Well, I'm going to work one more year so that I don't…” And we see this all the time. I'm going to work until I'm 65. We've got three more years. I’m going to work until I'm 65 because I don't want to have to pay for health insurance. Well, you can afford it. You're exchanging time for money.
Jordan Grumet: So, here's my problem with thinking that way. So, what if you don't have money? The problem is we think that money is the only thing that you can “exchange for time.” Not necessarily true. We have many tools and money is one of many tools but you can't exchange them for time because time passes no matter what. What you can do is use that money as a tool to allow you to have more purposeful activities during that time period. I guess that's what I'm trying to say. Money is one tool. Your connections are another tool. Your joys, your energy, your youth, those are all other tools. And we can use other tools also in order to make sure that we're filling up those timeslots with meaningful activities. So, money is a tool. It can't create more time and that time is passing. But you are right in the sense that you can use money as a tool to offload some things so that you can do more purposeful activities during that time that's passing no matter what you do.
Casey Weade: I love thinking about it in a broader sense. There are other things other than just money that can be exchanged to gain more time and not really just time in the sense of a ticking clock but time in the sense of meaningful experience.
Jordan Grumet: And also, let's bring this back to its basics. You are correct that money can, in a sense, let's use the colloquial terms, buy you time but what we always forget when we use that equation is what did you do in order to make money? If you're doing something you don't like in order to make that money or something that isn't purposeful, you're using those time slots early in the game to do things you don't like in order to then use that money to do things you don't like in timeslots in the future. So, you're right. You've bought time but you've also lost time upfront doing things you didn't want to do maybe to make money. And so, this is why we have to think about purpose upfront because if it's a one-for-one exchange, you haven't really gained anything.
Casey Weade: Is this the Parkinson's law piece? I could see an application of Parkinson's law in that. We're going to fill the space. Whether we fill the space today or we fill it tomorrow, we're going to be filling that space but I'm sure there's another application to that. And I know you've made a different application to that. Can you make some applications of the Parkinson's law, Pareto Principle here?
Jordan Grumet: I think the idea again is that, yeah, I'm trying to think of a way that fits in. I mean, I think there's a vacuum, right? And so, we tend to use time as a crutch to then dictate our activities. And that's very much Parkinson's law, right? The time you have allotted to do something is the time it's going to take, right? And so, I think we tend to think of time as a way of setting these boundaries, whereas I think we, again, have to think of time as a much more ephemeral thing that passes no matter what we do. And we have to learn to set our own boundaries. And so, we have to release ourselves from being so bound to time and more think about what's purposeful and how are we going to integrate more of that into our life. I don't know if that answered your question, but that's where I come up with that.
Casey Weade: Yeah. It's interesting when I think of, yeah, having the time and scheduling yourself, say, an 8 to 5 job, you're just going to fill it whether you have the work to do or not. It's just like homeschooling and sending your kids to a traditional school. You know, they're going to fill that time slot. Whether it's useful time or not, they're going to fill it. And you could be much more efficient at home and you fill the time slots that you have. You know, we give all of our teammates enough time here that they can take every Friday off if they wanted to take every Friday off, and yet they don't. I come in and I know, "Hey, I am going to work from 9 to 4 Monday through Thursday,” and I am going to do everything within that time slot. I'm going to take Friday off and I always fit everything within that time slot. But then I see other individuals just going, “Well, I work 8 to 5 and, yeah, I could get it done in 9 to 4 and take Friday off, but I just fill the time, just kind of mindlessly fill that time and lose the time that I could be spending somewhere else.”
Jordan Grumet: Yeah. And the mindlessly part is I think what becomes an issue, right? So, if you love your job and you love being there 8 to 5 and you have lots of personal connections and that really fulfills you, then maybe that makes sense. On the other hand, if you like your job but then you also really like having Friday available because you're going to go canoeing or rock climbing or you're going to spend time with that important person or you're going to work on that side hustle, which is going to free you up to do some other things, that's when it becomes an issue, right? And again, this again deals with how we filling those time slots that are limited. We don't know how limited because we don't know how long we're going to live but it's kind of set and it's finite. You know, how are we going to use that time?
Casey Weade: I just love the idea of going, "Well, you know, I'm going to enjoy more of my life today by just telling myself I'm only going to work Monday through Wednesday or I'm only working from 9 to 3,” and then just getting it done, right? And just playing that experiment and finding how much other time you actually can create by putting yourself into a fixed time schedule so that it allow you to get the stuff maybe you don't want to get done so that it frees you up to do other things.
Jordan Grumet: And the chapter in the book where we talk about time, there are some exercises at the end where you can start thinking about that stuff, right? So, a simple exercise is give yourself an hour to write a job description for what you do. And there's nothing else like no other specifics, this has to be paid, this has to be half paid. None of that. Just give yourself an hour and write your own job description. You write it out. You spend an hour doing this. And then I say to you, "Okay. I'm going to give you 10 minutes. Write a job description of your best buddy but you only have 10 minutes.” So, you go ahead and do that. And then I say, "Well, compare them.” And a lot of times you find out the job descriptions are just as good but when you spend a whole hour on the others you spent 10 minutes on, we do, we tend to say, "Oh, I have an hour,” so you start really blocking it out and thinking about it, etcetera. And you don't have to be perfect here. Let's say you get 80% there. So, let's say that in 10 minutes you have a description that's 80% as good as the prescription that took a whole hour. Well, it was six times more time you spent doing this but you got 80% of it in the first 10 minutes.
Casey Weade: And so, Pareto Principle.
Jordan Grumet: There’s the Pareto Principle, right? So, the question is, are you served by spending those extra 50 minutes doing something that you got 80% of the way there in 10 minutes? And I think interestingly enough, you can broaden that to a lot of things we spend our time doing. Now, that doesn't mean that, you know, so Tim Ferriss’s The 4-hour workweek, I think is an extreme. So, could you do everything in 4 hours and still make what you make today and be a wonderful businessman? It's possible but I think that's a touch extreme. But being thoughtful about how we spend our time and being thoughtful about allowing these tasks that we don't necessarily love take up more and more of our time again brings us back to being intentional about how we can be purposeful in life.
Casey Weade: I want to come back here and talk a little bit about the FIRE movement, Financial Independence Retire Early, because, well, that's not our audience, right? And in general, that's broadly not our audience. The individuals are going to make extreme sacrifices to pack away a bunch of cash so that they can live on a minimal amount of cash and recurring income early in their life, maybe work a part-time job. I mean, those just aren't the individuals that are typically fans of the podcast and listening in right now. But I think there are some parallels that can be made in some of the psychology of what happens to those individuals that participate in that FIRE movement once they make that transition to what they may call retirement. And that fear of, I think, spending that comes out of this extreme frugal behavior and it doesn't have to be extreme, but I see it with a lot of the families who work with where they've just been diligent savers for 30 or 40 years and now they're transitioning into retirement, “Oh, how do I change my mindset? How do I actually flip on the switch and actually start to enjoy my wealth, start to enjoy my time, start to enjoy my money, and start to actually spend some of those things.” So, can you speak to the fear that's rooted in that concept of the FIRE movement and how it can create a disillusionment in purpose?
Jordan Grumet: You know, interestingly enough, I think the FIRE movement shares the same problem that that person who's been saving for 30 years and then doesn't know how to loosen the reins, they both share the same problem. And the problem is that they look at money as a goal instead of a tool. And the problem with looking at money as a goal instead of a tool is it doesn't really serve you. And there are a few reasons for this. If you start looking at money as a goal and we see this in the FIRE movement all the time, they're like, “If I could just have $1 million saved, I can stop working and everything will be great.” Well, what happens when you get to that million dollars? And I would say it's the same for someone who's been saving diligently for 30 years and gets to retirement and has a mound of money. It's the same issue. What happens is you get to that goal, whether it be retirement or a $1 million net worth, if we're talking about the FIRE movement, and one of two things happens. You either are like, okay, I met my goal. What now? And because you haven't thought about purpose or identity or anything else or any other long-term goals, you've just been so focused on money, the next thing you say is, “Well, maybe I can make it to 2 million.”
So, what happens is you start moving the line up because you don't know what purpose looks like. You are so focused on money that that was the only thing you could think about. So, it's very natural once you hit that money goal to then actually make a bigger, higher money goal. So, that's one problem. The other side of that is let's say you hit that million dollars, a good number of people find themselves actually more worried and more scared than when they didn't have the money. It's called loss aversion, this idea that you actually fear doubly losing what you worked hard to gain than you ever feared not getting there in the first place. So, when you think of money as a goal, it actually leads to a somewhat unhappy place. The better way is to look at money as a tool and it's one of many tools you can use towards building a life of purpose. So, where the FIRE movement gets it wrong and has actually been evolving in getting it much better is this idea of concentrating on money so much that you don't actually see what the role of that money should be in your life, which is allowing you to do things that are purposeful and fulfilling.
Again, it's the same problem with people who've been diligently saving forever, who had no interest in FIRE but get to 65 or 70 or whatever their retirement date is, and then can't loosen the reins. And the reason why is they spent all that time thinking that the most important goal was money, that if feels really uncomfortable that then start spending that money and working against their goal. But if they can change their mindset and start looking at it as a tool, they start realizing that the money really isn't the thing at all. It's what the money allows you to do. And so, that's what I try to tell the FIRE movement but I actually try to tell everyone else. It is a tool and that tool allows you to live a more purposeful life. If you're there already, let's help you use that money as a tool. And guess what? If you're not there, let's help you use some of those other tools you have to live a life of purpose today and not wait until you're 30 years out and then have to figure out what you're going to do with your money, which you're petrified of spending because you've spent so much time saving it up.
Casey Weade: Yeah. I don't think I've heard anyone else frame it like that. And so, what are these two things that happen? One, we get to that number and then we move the line because we don't really know what we're going to do otherwise. Might as well just keep focusing on the purpose, which was the money that we've been focusing on the whole time, and continue to focus on that particular purpose, which is creating even more wealth. Number two, now we have a fear of losing it. We have a fear of losing it because the whole purpose all time was to create it. So, we don't want to lose it because we had our focus in the wrong place. So, it's not about having a financial plan that creates this income that you can't outlive. It's not about creating a financial plan at that point. It's really just about having the intention in the right place the whole time, the intention being on the purpose and meaning of the money in the first place. What is it? It is a tool for wealth. But the question being, well, what if it's too late? You know, what if we've spent our whole life not focusing on any other purpose other than creating that wealth? What do we do now? How do we get over this fear of spending, fear of loss, and actually start to enjoy life?
Jordan Grumet: So, it's never too late. And I can tell you that clearly because as a doctor, a hospice doctor, I deal with people who have six months or less. And even with them, often we're able to find a sense of peace with their life and what they want and with purpose. So, I don't think it's ever too late but it does mean that you're going to have to do some of this really, really hard work. Let me tell you, amassing money seems really hard but ultimately what's even harder is trying to figure out who you are and what you want in life. And I think you can do that when you're 20 or you can do that when you're 60, or you can do it when you're on your deathbed. It's going to be hard work at any time, but it's valuable work and it's deep work. And whatever amount of time you have left, it can really help you be more purposeful in living the rest of that life. And so, I don't think it's ever too late. Even if you've been holding onto your money tightly into the age of 60 or 65, and now you're like, “I want to live a better life. I want to live a life of purpose, but I don't know how,” that's a perfect time to start doing some of these exercises that are in the book and start really getting to the bottom of what role this money plays in your life and what role should it play in your life.
So, I think it's never too late to start doing your own sense of life review like we do with the hospice patient, but in this case, do it with yourself and try to really figure out what was purposeful to you in your life. What is a good way to use your resources now to live out that purpose and identity? And so, yeah, my goal with the book was to actually help people start thinking about this first, right? But I also realized that even someone on their deathbed benefits from this. So, ideally, we like to build a sense of purpose and identity and connections first, and then we can start building a financial framework around that so that we don't have to wait until we retire and we don't have to wait until 60 to be purposeful. That's our original goal but I think for anyone at any time, it's a good time to start doing this work and it will serve you.
Casey Weade: Well, I think this is a good time to transition into some specific tactics, exercises, tools. And there's a couple of things that I just want to make sure we threw out there, even if we can't go deep into them. I want people to know that they're out there, they exist, and there's good things that they should be doing for themselves. And one of those is a little bit more tactical. It's a practice or a habit that you shared, and that is something called the non-budget mindset. There are so many, I mean, I can't tell you how often the whole budget conversation comes up. I just had one of our advisors the other day that said they're trying to have this conversation with their spouse and it's really challenging. I think this concept could really help a lot of people.
Jordan Grumet: So, the idea is that there are people who love to budget, who love getting their spreadsheet out, who love using their apps, and they do really well at this. And of course, that's really a small percentage of human beings, not everyone. And if you go to the personal finance world, it's more than elsewhere in the world. But a lot of us, like me, don't love to budget. So, the question is, how can you create some guardrails that allow you to budget without doing that pen and paper typing on the keyboard budgeting, which people find stressful and doesn't always fulfill their needs and feels like a waste of time? There are some really good ways to do that. In fact, my wife and I had been practicing these type of non-budgeting things for years. So, a really easy thing we were able to do is when I was in residency, I didn't make that much money, but my wife was in corporate America so she made more money. So, we decided, "Well, we'll live off of what she makes and everything that I make goes directly into a bank account, which then shoots into investments or wherever you want it to go.”
And so, one way of doing a non-budget was whatever she made went into the bank account and we could spend what was there. There was no money there. We were done. We really couldn't spend any more but if there was money there, we should spend freely and not worry about it. And we were automatically saving my whole income. So, that was a really, really easy way not to take pen to paper but to basically budget.
There are some other really tactical easy things to do, like, okay, I grew up in a time where we couldn’t have our credit card on our phones, so it wasn’t as easy but an easy way that I used to do things when I was younger. I never carried cash around, right? So, you’re at a meeting or you’re in class and you’re hungry or you’re thirsty. Normally, we’d take out a few bucks or we’d take out whatever credit card and go and get something at the vending machine. I never carried any cash, and back then, cash was the only way to use the vending machines. It wasn’t really easy way to kind of budget without budgeting. If I didn’t have the cash, I couldn’t spend it.
So, often, it was my habit. We carry very little cash around us and never carried much. Other things we used to do, we rarely like when making a big purchase, let’s say you’re in the store and all of a sudden you see something you like, I got to have it, it was pretty normal for rule, we would almost never buy something the day we got the urge to buy it. We’d always step away, give it a week, and then come back and decide whether we want to buy it or not. So, simple things like that. How can you build a budget in your life without actually having to do the laborsome work?
And there’s all sorts of tricks, right? A lot of people buy used, it’s really easy nowadays to get used clothes or to get used stuff on Facebook marketplace or on eBay or what have you. There are so many easy ways to kind of save yourself money without even thinking about it, as well as protect your wealth. And so, things like automating, so your money automatically goes into your 401(k) or your money automatically goes into your brokerage and that automatically goes into an index fund every month. If you can do some of these things without having to spend time thinking directly about it, you’re still having the same effect, which is you’re saving money in your budgeting, but it’s a lot less loathsome and laborsome.
Casey Weade: Yeah, I can see how much better that would be than what I put my wife through. Going through the spreadsheet, we had envelope method, but it was all the automatic distributions to six different debit cards, and each debit card, you had groceries, you had gas, you had entertainment and...
Jordan Grumet: And that works for some people.
Casey Weade: And if you swipe it, it didn’t work, well, you couldn’t buy it. I mean, but it was something that was more, I enjoyed it. She loved it. And I love this. I think a lot of people would benefit from that. Earlier in the show, you mentioned something called life review that you do with hospice patients. And I just wanted you to go back, revisit that, and share how a listener could go through a life review, how often we should do this and what this actually looks like and some of the benefits.
Jordan Grumet: So, life review is pretty magical when we do with hospice patients, and it often does help them frame their sense of purposefulness in life and identity and also helps identify some things that maybe we could think about getting done within whatever time they have left. And I think it’s a magical concept and I think we spend too little time doing that when we are young and healthy. So, I suggest that people do a life review once a year.
The actual questions and the exercise are in the book, but you can find them all over the place. There’s all sorts of websites on life reviews, etc., but the idea is that you ask yourself some really structured questions on a regular basis once a year. Some people do it every six months. That helps you reframe what’s purposeful in your life and what your true goals are, right? So, the idea is what’s important to you. How could you spend your time?
I keep on doing this. Still, it’s so part of our culture to use commoditized words to describe time that I still say spend and waste and all those things that I tell you we shouldn’t do. But it’s really hard not to because I think this is how we grew up. So, it’s going to say, when are you spending your time at its best, right? When you feel most yourself, what did you accomplish this year that you’re really proud of? What didn’t you accomplish that you wish you did? What are those new connections in your life? Who would you like to be connected to in the future? There’s just a series of these questions and these are things you should really meditate on. So, this is not something you should answer in one day.
Casey Weade: Doc G, we’re answering these tonight.
Jordan Grumet: Yeah, exactly. We’re doing it at 5 p.m., from 5 to 5:30, right?
Casey Weade: So, it’s date night. So, I am absolutely bringing this.
Jordan Grumet: Pareto Principle says that if I allow myself 30 minutes to do this, 30 minutes should be the...
Casey Weade: I’ll do it. I’ll get it done.
Jordan Grumet: But you get the idea and these are things to really meditate on over some time. And it’s only I think when we get intentional about those things that we can start addressing them. Again, what are those whisperings? If you never ask yourself the question, if you never pay homage to them, if you never give them the space in your life they deserve, you’re never going to pursue them. And that’s the idea behind the life review, and I think it’s very, very powerful.
Casey Weade: Now, I’m serious. I’m going to use it tonight for date night. So, it’s going to be a lot of fun. I love it. I’m excited about it. Also, before we get into a couple of the questions from the audience, I want to make sure that everyone knew you have an amazing purpose process in the book. You have a nine-step process for discovering purpose and identity. So, we’re going to put a link into the show notes. We’re going to give away the book here in a moment as well.
So, now, let’s get into a couple of our fan questions. So, one of those questions came from Chris, and Chris actually offered– Chris, one of our Weekend Reading subscribers, offered up quite a lengthy explanation, really a heartbreaking story about what happened in their lives and their experiences and their experience recently with one of their loved ones passing away in a hospital at the age 85. And it was a pretty traumatic experience that they had at the hospital and it was kind of a mess at the same time.
So, not going all the way through every aspect of that story. I really just want to share his question that relates to that. That question being, we have advance directives. We have do not resuscitate. We have fully funded post-death hotlines, trusts, etc., but dealing with the bureaucracy of the hospitals makes me worry for my wife and children and how they may have to deal with end-of-life situations in our future. What are the resources to better understand this process and how to navigate end-of-life choices? One of those aspects that they did struggle with specifically was the advanced directives, just not covering the expense of circumstances that occurred for them throughout that experience.
Jordan Grumet: So, this is something I get a lot. And so, let me ease your mind. The expanse of circumstances is so large that your advanced directive is not going to cover everything. Or the truth of the matter is it only covers very specific things. So, there are so many different medical situations you can find yourself. And my family member is unconscious and they have a 50% chance of waking up, but if they do wake up, they’re going to have kidney failure and they can’t move the left side of their body, but they’ll be able to blink with their eyes. And their speech will take a year of physical therapy to get better, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. The truth of the matter is we can’t speak to all those things.
So, what I often tell people is better than worrying about the specifics of the advanced directive, there are some really basic things to get in there, like would I want to be on life support a certain amount of time? Would I want artificial feedings? Some really basics there. But for the rest of it, as opposed to trying to codify it in a document, it’s actually having a medical power of attorney that’s going to help you more than anything else.
What you really want is the person who’s going to make medical decisions for you that you’ve had in-depth conversations with them about the kind of things that agree with your values and the kind of things that don’t. And the reason why is, again, it’s going to be really hard to codify on paper. So, whether it’s a spouse or a parent or a child who’s going to eventually make medical decisions for you if you can’t make them on your own, you’re most and best served by actually spending hours talking to them about what kind of things you’d like and what kind you wouldn’t.
For instance, some people will say, “I want to be kept alive no matter what. If there’s any shot that I’m going to live, no matter what type of disability I’m going to have, as long as I can think and interact with you, I want to be kept alive.” That’s much different than someone who says, “You know what? If I’m on life support and it’s live in 48 hours, and if it’s going to take me a year of rehab to get better and I might not have all my functions, pull the plug.” Everyone is different on these things.
I had this conversation with a really good friend of mine and he said, “You know what? I spend most of my life in my brain. I’m a very cerebral person, I think, all day long, and that’s how I spend my day.” He’s like, “As long as I can think, keep me alive.” Boom. That clarified a lot of exactly what this person wanted. And that’s really hard to get in writing. So, don’t obsess about the advance directives too much, obsess about who’s going to make your medical decisions and have really in-depth conversations.
And here’s something a little scary that’s going to not sound good to people. I’ve seen often people have detailed advanced directives, and yet, haven’t had these deeper conversations with the people they love, and the people they’ve loved override their advanced directives at the end of life, even though they’re not supposed to. And the doctors often listen to them. So, when you have a spouse saying, “Keep her alive, keep her alive, keep her alive,” and there’s an advanced directive that says, “Remove life support after this amount of time,” they listen to the spouse. They don’t necessarily follow the advanced directive.
Casey Weade: That’s why I had to make my father the medical power of attorney. My wife will never be able to execute, so.
Jordan Grumet: End of life today in America is a mess, right? So, there’s something called the POLST form, which are Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment, especially as people get older, these are really good because it says very clearly, I don’t want CPR, I don’t want a feeding tube. I don’t want to be on a ventilator. So, I think that’s important.
Filling out your advanced directives, which give a lot of vague, if after 48 hours, two doctors conclude that there’s a certain percentage of a chance that I want, blah, blah, blah, I think filling out those reasonably but not spending a horribly large amount of time on them is good, but then spend a lot of time talking to whoever is going to make your medical decisions for you and make sure that those are clear and they know who you are and they know what your value systems are, because people lose sight of the fact that it’s more about dignity. And so, every person’s version of dignity is going to be different. So, when we’re really doing a good job of end-of-life care, what we’re really putting forth front is the person’s dignity and what dignity looks like to them, and then making medical decisions based on it. So, don’t get too caught up in the forms, have the deeper conversations.
Casey Weade: I love the resources and external and the real resources yourself and your loved ones and having those conversations.
Jordan Grumet: And one other thing I want to add just to, and this doesn’t reflect on this person’s family member at all, but this is reality. People tend to die the way they lived. So, people who have hectic out of control, loud lives tend to have hectic out of control, loud deaths. So, just also keep in mind that a person is who they are and they bring all of who they are into their death as well as they do in their life. And so, sometimes, that is what dignity looks like. Dignity looks like being true to who they are and sometimes who people are might not be who you and I agree with. It’s not the way we want to live our lives. But sometimes, people have chaotic deaths because they had chaotic lives. And there’s only so much you can do about that.
Casey Weade: We have time for one more question. I have a question from Charles. And the question is, can hospice care be done effectively? And what is your opinion on hospice care from a home care setting?
Jordan Grumet: Yes. So, hospice is a philosophy, not a place. So, hospice can be done at home. And in fact, most of our patients in my hospice, which has like a thousand patients, are home patients. Hospice can be done in nursing homes, it can be done in assisted livings, it can be done in ICUs, it can be done in emergency rooms. So, hospice is a philosophy, and the philosophy is based on symptom-based management without trying to cure someone’s disease.
And so. If you have six months or less to live, you can get hospice anywhere. We’ve done hospice in trailers. We’ve done hospice in hotel rooms because people lost their houses and we’ve actually delivered hospice care in hotels. It can be done anywhere.
Casey Weade: Well, Doc, let’s wrap up with one general question. It’s the biggest question of all. What does retire with purpose mean to you?
Jordan Grumet: Oh, retire with purpose means that you are fulfilling all those timeslots as many as you can with purposeful things that you are doing work. So, retirement is not about not doing work because we are working our whole lives, but it’s work we choose. Whether we’re being paid for it or not, whether we have an employer or not, retirement with purpose means living your true purpose, identity, and connections, hopefully, as soon as possible, whether you’re still at a job or not.
Casey Weade: That’s awesome. All right. Well, let’s wrap with this. I want to give away your book. So, if you’d like to get a free copy of Taking Stock: A Hospice Doctor’s Advice on Financial Independence, Building Wealth, and Living a Regret-Free Life, we’re going to be giving it away right now. And it’s super easy for you to get this book. All you have to do is this, subscribe to the podcast, rate the podcast, and deliver to us a written review for the podcast on iTunes. It’s super easy to do within your app, or you can also do that online.
So, rate, review the podcast, and then you can text us. So, text us the keyword Book to 866-482-9559. We’ll shoot you a link so that then you can follow that link, select the book that you would like, and submit to us your iTunes username and your book review or your podcast review. So, that’s it. That’s all. What a great conversation. Great interview, Doc. It was an absolute pleasure and thank you for all the value you’re creating in the world.
Jordan Grumet: The pleasure is all mine. Thank you.