Living Beyond Our Means

Hey all you baby boomers, no doubt you’ve heard the news. You’re going to live longer and perhaps be healthier than the generations that preceded you. Living longer and healthier, however, will require more money. Will you be able to afford the extra time?

We spend much of our life trying to figure out the money puzzle. How can we earn it, save it, invest it, and spend it? If honest, we’d have to admit we’d like to have more of it. We buy lottery tickets and send our entries to the sweepstakes hoping for the miracle of a windfall. Perhaps a rich relative will die and leave us a fortune. I’ve heard said money doesn’t buy happiness but it sure helps.

Money is obviously more important to some than to others. When the stock market crashed in 1929 people jumped out of windows and shot themselves in the head rather than face a life without money. Others lost fortunes and found a happier existence than they ever thought possible when they had money.

When a recently retired man told his kids he didn’t want to live longer than his money would last, they were a bit shocked. They were less concerned about inheriting his leftovers, than they were about their father’s sanity.

“Doesn’t everybody want to live forever?” they questioned.   

“No”, he answered. “I only want to live as long as I can afford to keep me in the manner to which I have become accustomed.” 

That was a shocking idea to the man’s children. How does one make one’s money last as long as one’s life, or one’s life as short as one’s money? This man said enjoying his retirement was going to cost him, and he was ready to spend it.

“I’m going to enjoy my money while I still have my health,” he said, “when the money’s gone, so am I.”

His children were aghast.

What is the value of a one’s life? Each of us can only judge that for ourselves. Many spend fortunes attempting to improve their health. “If you don’t have your health, money doesn’t matter,” they say. I’ve heard some say they wouldn't want to be kept alive on support systems because the quality of life would not be worth the endurance of the process. On the other hand, I’ve seen people fight to stay alive under the most miserable of circumstances with very little hope for improvement.

You baby boomers can look forward to longer life and better health. You may need to increase your number of years on the work force to afford your increased years of good health but, come to think of it, that doesn’t seem like a bad problem to have.

—M. LaCourt

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