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Weekend reading: Route canal edition

Money articles

My weekly commentary followed by my weekend news and blog links round-up.

I am currently somewhere on the British canal network, helping my mum and dad take a trip on a narrowboat that they’d long thought about doing but never got around to.

Well, I will be if all goes according to plan!

Regular readers may recall my dad suffered a massive heart attack a year ago. It left him physically much diminished and has given his brain a good knock, too.

As I write a few days before the trip, I’m aware of several challenges we’ll face including:

  • Getting him on and off the boat (we may only be able to do this once).
  • Meals could be challenging (/boring) since we might only eat aboard and the kitchen is tiny if you’re not set up for it. Take-aways ahoy.
  • Dad getting too close to the water — it won’t be easy to get him out.
  • Me not crashing the boat.
  • Dad telling me too insistently that I’m about to crash the boat.
  • Mum set on trying to operate the locks, and draining the entire canal system in the process.
  • My girlfriend being able to live with all the above, for several days, on a 40-foot boat.
  • The great British weather!

One aspect of the trip that’s more relevant to Monevator readers is how difficult my mum initially found deciding to spend a lump sum of money on the holiday.

The deal we’re getting isn’t the best value for money in terms of days on the water, or the time of the year — rather, it’s the most practical given dad’s condition.

After a lifetime of saving and with uncertainty increasing due to recent events, it’s not easy to switch to spending.

Yet they can well afford it — they’ve fairly decent savings, a paid-up house, and reasonable pensions. Dad won’t be around forever. If not now, then when?

On the whole I’m really pleased with how she’s made this transition, rather than burying her head in the sand.

But sometimes it is a challenge for her, partly because doing so means confronting the fact that dad’s innings is running out.

I don’t have any easy answers to how she should cope with all this. It’s even newer territory for me than for her, and over the next couple of years there are likely to be other challenges ahead of us both as a consequence of dad’s prognosis.

I expect I’ll learn a lot more about the far end of the investing and spending lifecycle over that period. I’d rather not, to be honest, but that’s not the hand we’re dealt in life, is it?

For now though the weather forecast looks good, my in-tray is clear, and I intend to cook a full English breakfast in the boat’s galley every day. Much to look forward to!

Hope you all have a great weekend. 🙂

Some interesting financial blog posts

  • You might like to check out part two of my Money Energy series on buying UK shares for income.
  • Oblivious Investor explains why index funds with even fewer words than usual.

The pick of the weekend newspapers and sites

    • Bit late, but here’s a video of John Authers comparing this stock market rally with previous post-crisis recoveries. Nervous viewing for traders. (FT)

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    { 5 comments… add one }
    • 1 Neal @ WealthPilgrim.com September 13, 2009, 1:40 am

      Thanks for mention.

      By the way, your route canal piece is timely. Just got back from 4 hours in the chair w/my favorite dentist – 2 failed root canals! That’s what I’m talking about!

    • 2 MoneyEnergy September 13, 2009, 5:15 pm

      Nice vacation you have! I travelled that route by Eurostart once. I agree, at a certain point in life you want to be sure you’re enjoying all the sacrifices you’ve previously made, too (that’s what they were for!).

    • 3 Lee September 15, 2009, 3:07 pm

      Thanks for the links. Some good stuff in there.

      Hope you’re all enjoying yourselves on the barge! 🙂

    • 4 Len Penzo September 17, 2009, 4:23 am

      I hope you had a great trip, Investor! Consider this trip a “memories investment” that will pay happy dividends for you over the rest of your life.

      All the best,

      Len Penzo dot Com

    • 5 The Investor September 17, 2009, 6:15 pm

      Thanks for your thoughts guys — it was a great trip despite a few awkward bits and it certainly delivered on the memory front, when I fell into the canal in front of two dozen people watching to see me take the boat through a lock.

      My dad was made up over it, and told everyone. I got minor revenge by having him parked at the front of the boat and steering it towards the lock gates that water tends to spray out of… Dad isn’t very mobile… 😉

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