“They don’t put roof racks on a hearse”

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Have you ever thought about why so many people are obsessed with money.  You would think life is a race and whomever dies with the most in their bank account wins.  To be honest I felt that way when I was graduating from university.  Let’s get out there and make some money!  Funny how all these years in the financial industry have really changed my view on this.  You would think it would make you more obsessed with financial gain.  It has actually had the exact opposite effect.  I have seen clients that have held onto the obsession of financial gains and watched them live in misery.  I can feel the resentment from their family when I am dealing with their estate.  Most of the time I see little joy in their lives.  I can’t help but think back to my younger self, “Is this what I really wanted when I finished school?”.

Thirty years later and a lifetime of experience behind me, I feel privileged to have spent the majority of my career working with families and their money.  I have learned what makes people happy, what makes them healthy, what gives them purpose in life.  To be honest, what I now consider a successful retirement is night and day from what I would have said when I started in the industry.  Now, don’t kid yourself, money plays an important role in a successful retirement.  You never want to worry about running out, or being a burden on your family at some point in the future.  That being said, I have seen many people experience a wonderful retirement on a $50,000/year budget.  Sometimes, better than clients with a $200,000/year budget.

Many clients buy exotic toys they have dreamed about all their lives.  Many have experienced luxurious travel sparing no expenses along the way.  They are all great, and if you can afford this, I encourage it.  Still, the best feedback I have received from clients over the years is helping their kids.  Over their lives, they accumulated a large surplus of money that became available at a time when their kids could really use it.  I have seen this from a late inheritance, a cottage sale or a house sale.  Now this does not mean you give away everything.  The number one priority is to make sure you will never need to ask for any help in the future or make any adjustments to your retirement plans, but if there is a large surplus, it is something to consider.  Years ago, I spoke to one client that had a very strong pension plan.  They had many grandchildren.  We put a plan in place to fund all the grandkids RESPs over the years.  One of the grandparents, a beautiful lady (always reminded me of my mother), passed away a little while ago.  When speaking with her husband, he let me know how much joy she felt from helping the grandchildren. 

In ancient Egypt, the pharaohs and kings would be buried with all of their riches.  Times have changed.  Life is based on what you do, not what you have left.  So, yes, over the years my view on money has really changed.  I love the saying, “They don’t put roof racks on a hearse!”.  You can’t take it with you, but you can change peoples lives along the way. 

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