Friday, June 25, 2010

You can't take it with you... right?

During this year, as my wife has been on (mostly) unpaid maternity leave and our finances have been stretched to the max, I have often thought about the near-decade I spent in Business journalism.

One of the lessons financial experts stress to people, particularly young(ish) people, is to save as much as you can for retirement. Work hard, live frugally and put the maximum amount away.

I understand it, but that doesn't exactly mean I buy into it.

Here's the thing: The average person lives to be what, about 80-something? Now, admittedly, I'm playing the medical history crapshoot, so I guess I could live longer, or die young. But, hey.

So, I'm expected to work 46 years (from age 21 to 67), all while scrimping and saving, so I can enjoy the last 10 to 15 or so years of my life?

That makes no sense to me.

When I'm a senior citizen, my knees are shot, Emma (hopefully) has grown up, gotten a job, moved out (it's Jersey, you never know) and made us grandparents, then I'm supposed to finally enjoy life?

As much as I love Scandinavia... when my time comes, put me in my Raiders jersey and call it a day.

Not a chance. I mean, it's not like they're going to bury me in a coffin lined with $20 bills, or with all my worldly possessions, Viking-style. Like I keep telling Marisa, as long as, at the end of the day, when they sell all my stuff and pay all my bills, if I end up on the plus side, it all worked out.

Don't get me wrong. I'm saving for retirement and planning for the worst-case scenarios (I have extra life insurance!). When I finally leave the office for the last time, I don't need a gold watch or nice memo. I just want to leave vertical.

But I'm not skipping out on 40 years of family trips or buying nice things for Emma and Marisa (and yeah, me, too) for two-thirds of my life, just so I can really go wild in the last fifth or so.

A gold coffin might work for Michael Jackson, but not for me. Eh, I don't like gloves, either.

Someone once asked me how I wanted to be buried. I said, skip the suit, put me in my best Oakland Raiders jersey, forget the fancy funeral and just throw a nice party. Or maybe just cremate me, and scatter my ashes over somebody I really, really don't like. Like the Denver Broncos bench. In mid-game.

So they asked if I wanted to be buried with anything. And I said, sure: A crowbar, flashlight and shovel.

Just in case they're wrong.

But seriously, we had a choice: M could stay home with Em for a year and we could skin the bank account to the bone, or she could go back in a few months and we could carry a little less credit-card debt. Like our rabbi told us, nobody ever says, "Boy, I wish I'd gone back to work sooner so I could have spent less time at home with the kids."

1 Comment:

Kangas said...

Cremation for sure.
And I don't WANT to live much longer, so that whole saving thing is horseshit.

Also, watch Collapse, the documentary. We're all about to die, in case you didn't know.