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Financing The Now

Oct
29
2008

There we were, Dirtman, Heir 2 and I, sitting in an auditorium listening to how we would have to go about funding Heir 2′s college career. We were sitting among 75 other people who, like us, had failed to save the requisite amount of money and were now scrounging about for the financing of their child’s future.
Sure we’d all read the warnings. Some of us may have even taken a stab at putting aside a little bit here and there. Some of us did, but had to dip into it for whatever reason. We were not sitting among “poor people.” These were average income families.
I’m sure a financial planner would have scolded us for having not planned for this back when our children were born. These days there is an angry financial planner screaming in my brain constantly. I call him Al.
Was it so much, Al sneers, to stash several thousand away every year if it meant peace of mind after your son’s high school graduation?
What was that, Al? Several thousand? A year?
Ummm. Yeah. Several thousand per child per year. Average college costs are over $120,000. Maybe you should have thought of that before you selfishly had that kid in the first place.
Oh and, by the way, while you’re at it, you need to save up six months’ salary in case you’re put out of work…scratch that…make it nine months considering the current job market. Oh, and don’t forget retirement because you don’t want to be a burden to anyone, do you? And these days company insurance plans don’t cover every possibility so either subsidize what you’ve got or save up for whatever isn’t covered.
Now don’t forget your insurances: Life insurance in case you die and long term care insurance in case you live but feel like dying.
Al, umm…you do know that most of us only make about $65,000 household income. That doesn’t leave all that much for . . . today.
Then your job is to increase that income – something you should have thought about long ago when you made stupid choices like family over working overtime. This is your time of life to work and sacrifice, not go on vacation or eat whatever you want or wear new clothes. I’d suggest a second job.
But, Al, I’ve already got a second job – it’s called housework.
Oh, come on. Everyone has housework. Delegate! Multi-task! Work harder! Be honest – you haven’t been the thriftiest person have you?
Well…
Have you? You’ve eaten out? You have cable television? You’ve gone to first-run movies?
Well, yeah . . .
Ah-hah! So, all those things add up. All those weekends you wasted taking the kids to museums and then out for fast food, you could have been working and stashing that money away. I notice you have some free time between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. that could be put to better use. Then, of course, there is another way to increase your income.
What’s that, Al?
Education. Go back to school.
If I could afford to go back to school, Al, I could afford to put my kid through school.
It’s immaterial to me who makes the money, so long as someone is bankable enough to make my advisory skills necessary.
But what about ‘living in the now,’ Al?
The what?
You know, ‘the now.’ That’s supposed to be the healthiest state of mind. How am I supposed to ‘live in the now’ when 90 percent of my income is going toward a future I can’t even be sure will exist?
I don’t know what you’re talking about: The Now . . . sounds like psycho-babble to me.
You know, Al. I think that’s why the whole world is about to have a nervous breakdown: The place to be is The Now, yet the social and cultural system is set up to keep us constantly living for the future. You wouldn’t happen to have a sideline business selling insurance, would you Al?
Hey – I’ve got a kid to put through college . . .

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