Tag Archives: clubs for grown ups

The Designated Adult Club

retirement calendar

retirement calendarI was on Facebook the other day when a former colleague who has just started a new job jumped in with a query about pension plans.

“I need an accountant,” she wrote on her wall. “I need advice on what to with the multiple pension plans I’ve accrued since I started working. I’m not sure if I should combine them –  or keep them separate.”

Within minutes, a whole bunch of us who’d worked together with her had glommed onto this thread. Turns out, she wasn’t alone. Several of us had more than one pension plan and we all needed the same advice.

At some point several comments in, someone on the thread suggested that if my colleague was able to obtain the answer to this question, she could share it with the rest of us over drinks. (We’d pick up the tab.)

And then someone else had this brilliant idea: Why don’t we make a deal where one of us is put in charge of making these sorts of vital, grown-up decisions for the entire group on a six-month, rotating basis.

And just like that, the “Designated Adult” (DA) Club was born. (I gave it this name, in honor of the “designated driver” who volunteers to drive when everyone else wants to get sloshed.) Before long, everyone wanted to claim the IP on this thing.

All joking aside, I don’t think the DA Club is a half bad idea. Let’s be honest. Just as there are many tasks you’d love to outsource as a parent when your kids are little (swimming lessons being a particular favorite of my own), there are things you simply don’t have – or want to have – the bandwidth to figure out when you grow up.

In addition to pension plans, I’d like to add to our list of queries things like: figuring out which “color” you are without paying someone $1,000 to tell you…how to keep outdoor plants alive indoors during the winter months…what to do when your Siemens dryer tells you that the water is “full” and you have no idea how to fix it…what to bring to someone’s house in the UK when they invite you for “tea” at 5 pm….(Answer to that last one: Not Vodka. Trust me. I learned the hard way.)

Plus, I like the idea of having a rotating DA Club President, sort of like the Presidency of the EU. I have a friend who used to meet up on Friday afternoons with some of her friends to do what they called “Admin Club,” where everybody sits around plowing through the pile of gross items on their individual to do lists – e.g., filing their taxes, writing thank you cards for their cousin’s bridal shower, knitting a shawl for their Great Aunt Betty Sue, organizing their photos, etc.

I thought that was a brilliant idea. But I like this one even better. You wear the grown up hat for a six month period that works for your work/life/family needs, and then you turn it over to someone else. (“Sorry, friend. My term expired yesterday. I’m afraid you’ll have to figure out for the rest of us how how to obtain European citizenship if you don’t have a European grandparent…”)

One of my former colleagues, who liked the idea of this DA club very much, nonetheless stipulated that if we did ever incorporate as a proper LLC, I would not be able to blog about the different requests. She feared that it might reveal our collective dysfunction.

Sorry, hon. I don’t think I saw that clause in my contract…

Please join in the fun. What sorts of things would you like the DA Club to sort out for you?

Image: Retirement Calendar by American Advisors Group via Flickr

Tips For Adulthood: Five Clubs for Grown Ups

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

This week’s list is inspired by the “back to school” theme. If you’re a parent, you’ve probably just finished purchasing (or dusting off and sharpening) all the backpacks, pens, pencils and athletic equipment that your kids will need for the upcoming school year. Now you’re grappling with after-school activities: which ones your kid should join, which ones to drop, and how to coordinate schedules across different members of the household.

Even if you’re not a parent, Autumn invariably brings a spirit of renewal. Just out of habit  – from all of those years of going to school yourself – you’re probably thinking about what activities you’ll be participating in this coming academic year: which book groups, health clubs or religious social organizations you’ll be frequenting on a weekly or monthly basis.

As you do that, I want to encourage all of you to join a new club. And I want you to reach outside the box. In other words, feel free to carry on with the clubs you’re already a member of. But push yourself to try something different – really different – on a whim that speaks to one of your secret interests. (By way of example, here’s a club in New York City that was inspired by members’ love of kidlit.)

Why do this? Because pursuing hobbies in adulthood is loads of fun.

To get you started on your brainstorming process, I’m going to propose some out-of-the-box suggestions I got by soliciting ideas on Linked In. Here are five “clubs for grown-ups” that sound absolutely fabulous to me:

1. Language Clubs – I was struck by the number of people who wrote to me about clubs that were organized around speaking another language. Sometimes, these took place around a meal (e.g. French or Italian Cuisine) or a wine from a particular region. Others coalesced around a film or book by a foreign auteur. But in all cases, you were required to participate in said activity while speaking a language that wasn’t your native tongue. Fun!

2. House Exchange Clubs – We’ve all heard of house swaps. Usually, someone who lives in, say, Tokyo exchanges houses with someone who lives in New York City. It’s an affordable way to have a holiday abroad. But some friends of mine are about to join a house exchange club in their own city. The idea is to meet up monthly at one member’s home while everyone else browses around to see what kinds of art, music and decor are on display. Then, over the holidays, you arrange to swap homes with that friend. I love this idea – a way to explore your own city but from a different vantage point. So clever!

3. Fix-it Clubs. One of my friends who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. wrote to me about a fixers collective that’s sprung up in her neighborhood. Here’s the website. Every Thursday, a group of people get together and place broken objects on a large, common fixing table. They then share ideas and techniques for repairing, mending, enhancing or re-purposing the objects, with “Master Fixers” there to offer support and guidance. The larger social message behind this club is to encourage people to value more things in their environment. If I had even a hint of a DIY bone in my body (and lived in Brooklyn!) I’d be all over this.

4. Admin Club. Another gem. This comes from a friend of mine in Washington, D.C. who gets together once a month with friends to tackle all those dreaded tasks that would otherwise languish on their to-do lists ad infinitum. It might be tax returns. Or a gazillion phone calls to the insurance company for a reimbursement. (Gosh, I don’t miss American health insurance.) Or writing out 25 party invitations for your cousin’s bridal shower. Whatever onerous task is dragging you down, you go deal with it…among friends, who offer both support and company. This club has my name written all over it. (Ironing name tags, anyone?)

5. Procrastinators Club. Finally, let me end with my hands-down favorite, which is a sort of gambler’s version of the Admin Club. Here’s how it works:  Upon joining, you kick in $20 and declare a project that you are working on and how much progress you commit to making on it by the next meeting. If, by the next meeting, you haven’t hit that goal, you lose your stake to whoever has completed their task and you have to ante up again. (In actual practice, the friend who wrote to me about this club subsequently volunteered that everyone in it continued to be unproductive and – not surprisingly – eventually lost all energy to keep the club going…) But hey, they get an A* for invention. What a great idea!

How about you? What sorts of zany clubs have you been tempted to join or create? Do tell…

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I’m told that a great place to find and join clubs of all different sorts is at meetup.com.

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For those who are interested, I’m over on Politics Daily today talking about recent developments in the ongoing British tabloid phone-hacking scandal...

Image: diy pinhole by (nz)dave via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.


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