By Stan Haithcock
I have an outside-the-box goal proposition for all of you retirees, pre-retirees, baby boomers, and investment mavens out there. Plan for the last check you write to bounce.
As you are being lowered into the grave or cremated into a fine dust, you want the bank’s computer screen to read “insufficient funds” on that last check you signed. I know that goes against the American grain, and many do-the-right-thing belief systems, but let me explain why I am serious about this bounce-your-last-check concept.
Inheritance Should Not Be a Beneficiary Business Model
The transfer of wealth from the baby boomer generation to their children that is getting ready to happen in this country is going to be staggering. All of you old geezers out there who have saved, done without, shared plates, and pinched pennies to achieve your wealth are going to predictably hand over tons of hard-earned money to your wandering ambiguity beneficiaries. Vegas thanks you. Car dealerships thank you. Realtors thank you. Our sputtering economy thanks you.
You might want to rethink the potential financial damage you are going to inflict upon your family. Are you really “helping” them? What is the exact lesson they are learning? Is that lesson just to hang out long enough until you croak, and then collect on all of your sweat equity? Do you have this type of losing legacy plan?
Driving a Ferrari to Your Funeral
I always tell my clients that your beneficiaries are going to use that inheritance you so generously provided to buy a Ferrari to drive to your funeral. It might actually be a Lamborghini or a Porsche, but those are just details. If you do plan on leaving a financial legacy to your family, then give it to them in payment form, not a lump sum. In other words, have them make payments on the Ferrari instead of buying it with cash.
End of life ain’t too pretty
So why aren’t you enjoying yourself? Why are you putting off that trip or checking off that bucket list? Why are you stressing over constant political and financial minutiae? Why do you keep sharing a plate every time you eat out? Face the facts that you have no good answers to these questions.
At the ugly end stages of life, insurance companies talk about the “six daily functions.” We have an entire long-term care industry built around this time period. The bottom line is if you cannot perform any of these daily functions, life pretty much stinks. In addition, when you can’t do two of the six, the stats say you will live an average of three years and a maximum of seven.
Nothing in Moderation
I admittedly have trouble with moderation. My make-your-last-checkbounce declaration is a reflection of that. I’m not saying to deny your kids and grandkids all the legacy gifts you have planned. What I am saying is to live your life, and for once, try to focus on yourself. If that means spending more money on yourself, and leaving less to your family, then so be it.
Repeat this phrase the next time your beloved heirs enter the financial picture: “Enough about you, let’s talk about me.” Say it out loud or say it to yourself, but say it. Then start practicing the hard task of focusing on yourself.
Catchphrases to Live by
Live for the day. Throw the dice overhand with a running start. Carpe Diem. Life is too short to be a good parent (I tell my wife this, but it somehow hasn’t stuck). Stop obsessing about tomorrow, and try enjoying today. Create that bucket list!
Novel thoughts; now try implementing them. Go enjoy your life while you really can, and remember — there are no U-Hauls behind hearses.