End of Life Planning

9/13/2023 | By Sandra Block

Jordan Grumet, associate medical director for Journeycare Hospice and author of “Taking Stock: A Hospice Doctor’s Advice on Financial Independence, Building Wealth, and Living a Regret-Free Life,” shares a different perspective on money.

Changing attitudes: Hospice and money

Question: In 2018, you left a lucrative career as a physician in private practice to work with hospice patients. How has working with people who are dying affected your attitudes about money?

Answer: All these financial experts could tell me how to make money, how to build a business, how to invest. But what they couldn’t tell me was what that all meant. I started realizing some of those answers were coming from my hospice patients. When people are told they have six months to live, they look at what’s important to them. They’ve been putting it off because it’s much easier to concentrate on their careers and money. When they were told they were dying, they regretted they didn’t have the courage or time to do the things they wanted to do.

The life you want to live

Question: By saving and investing, you’ve achieved financial independence — the ability to live on savings and passive income without relying on a paycheck — yet you’ve been critical of the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement. What do FIRE followers get wrong?

Hospice woman reading book with little girl feeling secure about money

Answer: The FIRE movement is good at telling people how to accumulate and keep wealth, but it doesn’t always tell people what to do with that wealth, so they may end up depressed and anxious about what to do next. If we start with a purpose, we can use that financial framework to live the life we want to live.

I’m 50. I feel as though I retired in 2018, when I decided that money would no longer drive the decisions I make about what I do every day. I still do hospice work 15 to 20 hours a week because it fulfills my sense of purpose. I also spend about 30 hours a week hosting a podcast, doing public speaking and writing, for which I make some money, but not much.

The “art of subtraction”

Question: In your book, you argue that true financial independence comes when you master the “art of subtraction.” What do you mean by that?

Answer: People in the FIRE movement think they’re buying time by saving enough money to leave work. My take is different. Time passes no matter what we do. One of the only powers we have is control over the activities we do during that time. So looking at different time slots — hours, days, weeks or months — winning the game is filling those time slots with things that have purpose and meaning. You don’t have to be financially independent to decide what you want to do and how you want to do it.

Sandra Block is a senior editor at Kiplinger Personal Finance magazine. For more on this and similar money topics, visit Kiplinger.com.

©2023 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Sandra Block

Sandra Block is a senior editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. For more on this and similar money topics, visit Kiplinger.com.