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Thanksgiving Blessings: Another Look at Family 'Burdens'

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how strongly Americans feel about not burdening their family in their retirement years, and I provided five retirement planning tips to avoid this fate. It's admirable and entirely understandable that people don't want to burden their families, so it's well worth your efforts to take the necessary planning steps.

Let's explore a complementary point of view, which is entirely appropriate as Thanksgiving approaches. When a family bands together to help one of its own, it can strengthen family ties and bring people closer.

I know my wife and I have always been glad to lend a hand to family members when help is needed. Sometimes family members have made all the right decisions but are still the victims of unfortunate events. And sometimes family members run into trouble because of poor decisions they've made. But instead of blaming them for their mistakes, that's the time we should be compassionate and help them anyway, because they're family.

My wife and I gladly helped in her mother's final years, and my wife wouldn't trade that time for anything. It was just part of giving back to her mother, and it was very gratifying to her. We didn't consider it a burden to help -- it just came with the territory of being part of the family.

I've previously written that boomers will need to make every dollar count in retirement, and that one way to do this is to share housing with friends and family. This may be something you need to seriously consider, either for your own parents or for yourself, should your lifestyle become restricted at some point. Could you be creative in order to make it a positive experience for everybody involved, including having a richer social experience with multiple generations helping each other out? This approach is the way the elderly were taken care of just a few generations ago in America, and it's still common practice in many parts of the world today.

I really like having the security of solid financial plans in place, so there's a good likelihood that I won't be a burden on my family. But I've also talked to my family about what would happen if I were to need them, and it makes me feel even more secure to know that they'd be there for me if I need their help in any way.

These are even more reasons to be grateful on Thanksgiving Day!

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