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Graceing Agefully - the new boundary on aging
Episode 58th May 2023 • The Sustainable Investor Podcast • Frank Byskov
00:00:00 00:32:42

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Through advances in health and medicine and potentially less strenuous work, we now live longer than our ancestors did. It used to be that at 65 you're about to be put out to pasture so to speak. But now most 65-year-olds are active participants of society. Many are still working at some level, part of stay active and also to make the money stretch for what could be a multi-decade retirement. Finding out ways to not only live longer, but live better for longer.

Today, I have Jennifer Sproul with me. She is a realtor in the DMV region and also the founder of Graceing Agefully, a movement working towards making the second half of life as productive and meaningful as possible. It is the second part of life we will talk about today, and Jennifer has a really refreshing and new take on this topic.


Through advances in health and medicine and potentially less strenuous work, we now live longer than our ancestors did. It used to be that at 65 you're about to be put out to pasture so to speak. But now most 65-year-olds are active participants of society. Many are still working at some level, part of stay active and also to make the money stretch for what could be a multi-decade retirement. Finding out ways to not only live longer, but live better for longer. Today, I have Jennifer Sproul with me. She is a realtor in the DMV region and also the founder of Graceing Agefully, a movement working towards making the second half of life as productive and meaningful as possible. It is the second part of life we will talk about today, and Jennifer has a really refreshing and new take on this topic.

Welcome to the podcast Jennifer.

Jennifer Sproul:

Thank you, Frank. I'm very excited to be here. It's nice to get an opportunity to speak on the subject that we have.

Frank Byskov:

No, I think it's a very interesting topic indeed. And I think kind of what led us to have this discussion is like your recent debutant author, the ultimate guide to self-healing volume five, and the story was really interesting.

Can you tell the listeners a little bit about the book and the discussion on the subject? back story and the author journey?

Jennifer Sproul:

I would be happy to do that. So I am a debutante. I like the way you described it as a debutante author.

I'm not a debutante, but it was my debut in writing. And in fact, it has inspired me to be a writer in the second half of my life.

So the chapter that I wrote was titled Graceing Agefully, which you have already mentioned is the name of the website that I have developed in the platform from which I am operating now.

And Graceing Agefully was the story of my mother, whose name was Grace, thus the name, Graceing. And my mother and I, and when I was younger, struggled a bit with our relationship because we had quite a dramatic age difference.

I was, she was almost 40 when I was born. So at 13, my mother was 50 in her early 50s and

I was going through puberty. She was going through menopause. And at that point, all of my older siblings had left the home.

So I was sort of an only child late in life. And the combination was difficult at best. It was kind of the opposite ends of the hormone spectrum in the same house.

Later in life, she was diagnosed with dementia. And she was put in memory care. And she was already in her late 80s, maybe early 90s, when she was put in memory care.

And I found that as opposed to the way many people presented what happens with dementia and the downside of it, I found that I discovered a really lovely side of my mother that had been covered by some anxieties and other difficulties before she had dementia.

And so the reason that my chapter is in a book on healing is because that gave me an opportunity to heal my relationship with my mother.

And it was interesting because it was like dementia lifted a veil that had been over the real person underneath.

And she was a person that had quite a bit of anxiety and that can often mask many of your inherent characteristics.

So I found that the woman that was revealed through dementia was someone who I really appreciated, respected, loved and by the time she passed away at the ripe age of 99 and nine months, almost 100.

Our relationship was in a really lovely place. And it was a very peaceful passing at that point. And my memory of her is all good.

So it was really an inspiration for aging in the second half living a different way through aging in the second half.

Frank Byskov:

Yeah, no, it's a very lovely story. And it's never too late to discover new things, new sides, to the people just thought you knew.

And especially like your older siblings probably have a different relationship with your mother because of the, I guess, hormone imbalance you mentioned before.

So no, it's great that you were able to uncover the true Grace.

Jennifer Sproul:

I have to say also that it gave me a full appreciation of her name and I write about this in the chapter that my mother always, you know, we interpreted grace as being something that you expressed physically.

It was someone who was graceful and she would always kind of wrinkle over her face and say, oh, I'm not graceful.

She was poorly named, but I think that's it. found that in dementia, there was such a grace about her presence.

And so even today, after she's been gone now eight years, I still feel her presence. I feel her grace.

So her grace has stayed with me. And I feel like it inspires me all the time for Graceing Agefully.

Frank Byskov:

That's great. And I think that if more people could discover that positive action with the family members, the world would be a better place.

And another thing we talk about can segue into this one. My approach to wealth is opportunities. Not dollars, but having the option to pursue passion over paycheck.

And especially second half of life, which is your forte. You have a similar take. You articulate a little differently but can you go into that?

Jennifer Sproul:

I do. So I agree with you that well, certainly is much more than money. And in my opinion, and one of the things that I strive for myself and express through Graceing Agefully is to live what I call a well-integrated life.

And it's different from life in balance. Its life that really honors what I call the five key areas, which are physical, financial, relationships, emotional, mental, and spiritual.

And so often earlier in life, at least the way that I went through it, we pursue, we're going to work now, and we're going to make all our money so that we can play later or retire later sort of go through this cycle where then we're going to stop working and we have everything saved up and ready to go.

And very often it takes a toll on so many of the other parts of our lives. So certainly physically, mentally, all of those things are affected by the way we live every day.

So to me, wealth is living a fully integrated, a well-integrated life where each of the categories of life are equally important and we emphasize each of them in our day with the activities that we do.

And whenever we can, I've tried to really see what activities I do that bring me the best energy, for example, which also fulfills me emotionally.

That helps me physically. It helps me financially because it puts me in a better way to be creative and to generate income.

So that's really my perception of wealth and finances are a very important part of it. But all the other things being at their optimum level will then naturally stimulate the financial piece to be glowing.

Frank Byskov:

Finance is definitely a big part of it, but it's not the one and only. It's about balance. And like the many aspects for when we look at the second half of life, and you can't look at each in a vacuum, like they're all interdependent.

And you have some, as you mentioned, you're a group of ideas that I find pretty interesting.

Jennifer Sproul:

So if I understand what you are referring to, all of this starts with mindset, which is really the subject of the next book that I'm going to have a chapter in.

And the mindset is sort of the substrate upon which everything operates. So certainly for aging in the. second half, baby boomers in particular of which I am one, were taught that you know you're productive during this you know the first 60 years of your life is when you have to like do it all and be productive and then you can expect to decline and you can expect you better be ready to stop working and start having your fun and it just…

Yeah go to pasture, and just be prepared for the decline and to me I mean part of the the reason I'm even talking about these things today is because at age 60 I thought about both my parents my father lived to 95 my mother lived to 99 they both outlived their parents by 30 years and I thought you know I've got good genes which is not all it's about but I'm

In a happy place. So why can't I live to be 120 or 125? And I have read enough now that I know that that's not a crazy idea.

At the same time, it's 60. I'm only halfway. I have as much ahead of me as I've already lived.

So it's far from being the high point at which I'm going to start going downhill. And so that mindset alone is the piece that kind of makes everything else work and everything else stay in flow because I'm not thinking, oh god, the next thing that happens is I'm not going to be able to walk.

I'm not going to be able to see or hear whatever. And I'm not going to be able to afford to live an assisted living.

I just I have taken all of that off the table. And I just look kind of one day at a time and say, hey, I'm really healthy today.

I'm still earning a living. I love what I do. I'm going to take this one day at a time and the rest will fall into place. And that's, that's really my philosophy.

Frank Byskov:

Yeah. And a couple of points in that one, you've done marathons.

You became a realtor as part of this transition. You changed career paths. So it's again, it's never too late to pursue some of these things.

Jennifer Sproul:

Not at all. And so often these things come at us unexpectedly. You know, at 50, I had been in a corporate executive position for all of my working life.

And at 50, my company decided to jettison my entire department sell it to another company. And they didn't want any, I had a sales team, North American sales team, they didn't want.

And so I was given, I was given this beautiful gift of a year of full salary severance to decide what my next step was going to be.

I mean, I couldn't have asked for that. I couldn't have planned that. And I couldn't have been happier about having gotten that opportunity.

And that's when I decided ultimately to start in real estate. And at 50, I didn't want to be in a corporate setting again because it was too vulnerable for a woman over 50 to be in an executive position I'd already experienced when they can sort of give you the boot out of nowhere.

And I wanted to be independent. So real estate was a perfect solution. And I happened to excel right away, which was very helpful.

And here I am, 15 years later.

Frank Byskov:

Yeah, I truly see you more like a lifestyle consultant than a realtor.

Of course, there's an overlap because lifestyle like homes affect each other. But how do you work with clients? Obviously, if they want to resize the home, the realtor comes in handy.

But how do you work with clients that may want to stay in the home longer?

Jennifer Sproul:

So if people want to stay in their home longer and I'm meeting them in real estate, it's unlikely that I'm meeting them in real estate.

I may be meeting them somewhere else. So with my platform Graceing Agefully, I'm more likely to have a community of people who might be in this category.

So that's kind of a different answer. But I think one of the things I try to do with my real estate client, I think more frequently what they come to me with is, okay, so I think the next step is now, we're going to downsize, we should be looking at a condo instead of our big, single family home, and then we have to be prepared for when we're no longer able to take the steps and do all of that.

So they've already come to me because they think the next step is what they've been taught over the years, that now that they're in there, sometimes just their late 50s, they're already talking like this.

And that's when I really start to talk to them about maybe rethinking that next step. And maybe that next phase is going to be much longer than you had originally anticipated.

And maybe a single family home is still the right place for you to be, but maybe you can trade the equity by trading into another single family home in a neighborhood or in a community or in a city even, that is the real estate is less expensive.

So you can turn some of that equity into cash or investments of another type, maybe fully put it into buying a house outright so that you don't have that kind of daily expense.

But it's really more about helping them rethink the years. from say late 50s all the way up to even 90 that you don't necessarily have to be building in an automatic opportunity to have assistance or whatever.

Those things can happen, but I don't think you necessarily have to plan for them and there are some positives about staying in a single family home or a town home that you may not have thought of.

Frank Byskov:

I like that. We co-hosted and went like the 8,000 days of retirement and that speaks exactly to that point.

Retirement is not a point in time. It's a period of time and maybe you know what you want to do the first day, first year of retirement or that's not called retirement, the second half of life and that could go on for decades.

So like finding something that thinking about that as a period of time instead of a point in time transition I think it's very helpful.

And that's one thing from my point of view as well. Like it's more like finding the right balance and preparing for longevity.

Jennifer Sproul:

Yeah, and a lot of people in the space that I'm spending a lot of my time rather than talk about retirement, talk about requirement.

So it's really reconfiguring and unlearning. I say a lot about unlearning. We have to unlearn a lot of the patterns that we were taught from a very young age because they're not taking us in a good direction in this half of life.

And not the least of which is the Monday to Friday nine to five which no one ever really works.

But getting out of your head that it's Monday morning at nine o'clock, I should be sitting in front of my computer working is not necessarily something that you have to ascribe to.

You can let yourself go a little bit.

Frank Byskov:

So. a little bit. Yeah, no, and from my point of view, struggling to write bounds between expenses on one hand and income, savings and investments and other, is key to having the opportunities.

And with longer life expectancy, the money just has to last longer. Risk perceptions can change. How do you talk to your audience about that part?

Jennifer Sproul:

So I think it's a really interesting subject. And when I say talk to my audience, so much of what I talk about is just what I'm doing myself, what I'm trying myself, what I'm experiencing myself, that is working.

Sometimes it's not working. And it's also informed by my real estate business. So I say that because one of the things I see in real estate a lot is old people on the far end of the age spectrum, who are now moving to that next phase, whether it's a retirement community or assisted living. And very often they've just accumulated so much.

So it's really difficult to emotionally and physically and financially get all of that stuff out of your way before you make your next move.

And so how that informs me as a baby boomer on the earlier end of the spectrum is that I want to do things, I want to create habits now that will help me not be there at the end.

And so there's so many facets to that. But when it comes to expenses, one of the things that I try to do is not spend my money on things that are just filling up space or just making me feel better momentarily. It's really, you know, trying to get in the habit of divesting myself of the need for more things unless it's absolutely critical.

And even things like when you think of the expense of an automobile, you know, we all need a car, it costs a lot of money, it will be obsolete at some point so you'll need to get a new car.

And that's a lot of money and it increases over time. So one of the things that I personally did, which has been really life-changing, is I made it a point, last time I got a car, I decided I'll never buy a brand new car again.

So that saves me some money. I take out a five-year loan for that car, I pay it off in five years and I hold it for 10.

So I have five years of no car payment, I always have a good car, so it lasts like my car now is almost at the 10-year market, has 150,000 miles.

It's It looks and runs great. So you buy a car that still doesn't change so dramatically. It's not a trendy car.

And it does what I need it to do in very good fashion. And that whole model has been sort of life-changing because for the last five years, I've been able to take that money that I would have spent on a car payment, and I've put it in my retirement savings instead of putting it into a car.

And then this car will turn over at 10 years. So it's just little things like that that kind of shift what might have been a habit that was more expensive in the past.

Also, I think if you're spending money on a mortgage, which is going into where you're living, and you really appreciate where you live, I would much rather see people spending money on housing, on appreciating assets that also provides them shelter than on a new sofa or, you know, having something really incredible added to their home.

So I think those are the kinds of things that kind of tuning yourself to be more judicious about how you spend your money, not just say I'm not going to spend money, but just spend it in a way that is going to serve you better in the long run.

And that gives you more opportunity. It just puts you in a better space.

Frank Byskov:

Yeah, now from my point of view, the single most important determinant of financial success is reasonable expense level.

And that goes to exactly what you say. If you can keep your expenses in check and spend within your means, the world is your oyster.

But the issue is if you're overspending compared to what you have and what you earn, you kind of paint yourself in the corner.

It limits your options. And then maybe you're forced to downsize instead of staying longer or you're, you can't travel as much, you can't go visit family, grandkids, whatever you may wanna do.

So definitely keep them being smart about your expenses, gives you're like so many more opportunities.

Jennifer Sproul:

But small things too, like I just wrote a piece the other day on Medicare, like when I went from being an independent contractor with supplying my own health insurance to Medicare. That was huge.

I mean, Medicare to me was like the best thing that can happen. It was just so much less expensive than the health insurance that I had before. And now I've discovered that they have something, some of them call it silver sneakers, some of them, mine calls it mutually well.

And I pay $25 a month to be a member of mutually well, which is part of my supplemental Medicare policy.

For $25 a month, there are at least six different gyms that I can join for free. I joined one right away that had pools in every location so that I could swim because I didn't have anywhere to swim before.

And since I joined that gym and gone to the classes in the pool, I've made new friends, I've made new other people that want to be part of Graceing Agefully.

So it checks a lot of boxes. It checks a physical box, obviously it's a fitness issue. It checks a financial box because it hardly cost me anything.

It checks a relationship box. because I'm making new friends. It checks the emotional mental box because it puts me in a happy place.

There are so many things that you can use, take advantage of that you may not even be aware of.

And that will save you money.

Frank Byskov:

I know you have to relearn a lot of things about how you things work.

And you know, like the water is actually a very important place for me. So, I definitely get your, I applaud your decision.

Finding that pool is very key. And another thing that is key to what I do is sustainability and values alignment.

And I know that's very important to you as well or something we've talked about on multiple occasions. How do you see sustainability as part of the journey of your audience?

Jennifer Sproul:

It's a very interesting question. And again as you have often said in your podcast and in your blogging that sustainability has so many different facets as well.

And so one of the places that I've recently sort of added to the five key areas, I've added an environment to the five key areas. And what that means to me is that I think each of us has the ability in our tiny little habits every day to impact our environment.

So rather than think, oh, what can I do that's really going to be earth changing, just think of all the actions that you take and this includes what you invest in. So for example, and invest in as a financial instrument or invest in in terms of what you buy.

So that's one aspect of sustainability that I'm trying to apply to my life. And one of the ways is that, for example, well, I'm showing you, but you won't see it, I wear Rothy’s shoes because Rothy's are manufactured from recycled plastic bottles.

So I'm going to spend money on shoes. This is a company that is manufacturing their product from recycled what would be waste.

And so that, to me, is a way to invest in companies that are doing their part to improve our environment.

The other one we talked about, I think the other day, is I love the organization that's called OMD, which is One Meal a Day.

And that was started by James Cameron, the director, and his wife. And it is encouraging people to eat just one meal a day vegan because that will reduce the amount of that will reduce the amount of Agribusiness, beef, and other animal products that are just part of a huge industry that are also harming our environment.

So there's a way that you can focus on your health by reducing the amount of animal products that you consume.

And at the same time, you're making a contribution to improving the environment. And then the third way is, I would like, and you and I have talked about this, I would like to start investing specifically, not just buying products, but investing specifically in companies, for example, that are started by women over 60, who would be my target audience for Graceing Agefully, to help them grow these businesses that, you know, by putting my money into it and possibly other people's money into it, gives them a better launch for their businesses and also to invest in companies like I was talking about, Rothy’s or other companies that really are making a difference on a larger scale to the world, to the environment.

Frank Byskov:

Yeah, no, and I think that goes to pretty much the very first comment, like sustainability and the whole journey, it comes in so many different ways, shapes and forms, and they're complementary in many ways.

So I was told by applying your values to as many aspects of your life as you can, and you're doing that.

And I think why we connect in a lot of different ways. Well, thank you so much for your insights I’ve had a great time learning even more about you.

Jennifer Sproul:

Thank you, Frank. I too have had a great time. I think this is, it's very exciting to feel this energy.

And I really appreciate and I'm honored by being asked to be on here. So thank you.

Frank Byskov:

Now, where can the listeners find more information about you and Graceing Agefully?

Jennifer Sproul:

So the easiest way is to go to the website itself, which is spelled like the name grace, G-R-A-C-E, I-N-G, Agefully, A-G-E, F-U-L-L-Y, Dot-com, and if you subscribe, you will be on my email newsletter list so that approximately once a month, I'm putting out a blog piece, which will come to you in email form.

You can also see the past blog posts there, learn a little bit more about me, and you can connect through to my real estate business through the Graceing Agefully as well.

So that's probably the most direct route.

Frank Byskov:

I'll put a link to the website in the show notes as well.

And to your book, can’t forget about that one. So in case you want to read more about the ultimate guide to self-healing volume five and the upcoming book that's coming out early of next year.

Jennifer Sproul:

Mindset mastery.

Frank Byskov:

Yeah. I'll include that as well. But thank you so much again. And thanks for being a welling guest.

Jennifer Sproul:

Thank you very much, Frank. I appreciate it. It was great.




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