Die Broke — a new four-part financial plan

Die Broke — a new four-part financial plan

My late and revered colleague Roger Needham gave away a lot of money to our Cambridge College and to the University. When I asked him what motivated him to do this he said, “Well, my wife and I have no children and no relatives, so we figured why should our Executors have all the fun!”. I’ve just discovered (thanks to Kevin Kelly) an interesting book — Die Broke: A Radical Four-Part Financial Plan by Stephen M. Pollan and Mark Levine — which Roger might have enjoyed. Here’s an excerpt:

“You are not a corporation – you are a human being. Your money shouldn’t outlive you. You should exit life as you came into it: penniless. Your assets are resources to be used, for your own benefit and for the benefit of those you love. Every dollar that’s left in your bank account after you die is a dollar you wasted. Use your resources to help people now when you know they need it, when it will do the most good, rather than hoping they’ll be helped when you’re dead. The last check you write should be to your undertaker … and it should bounce.

* Inheritance is a terribly inefficient way to pass wealth to others.

* You need to shift to a more flexible view of work and career, one that abandons the ultimatum of retirement – a false choice between full-time and no time….Similarly you need to shift to a less rigid approach to earned income. No longer can you look at your earned income as continually increasing up until age sixty-five, at which pint it will stop entirely. From now on you need to approach earned income as you do unearned income. It may grow, it may be stagnant, or it may decrease, all depending on market conditions and your own choices.

* The best metaphor I can think of for today’s pursuit of retirement is of a mass of lemmings busily struggling up a steep cliff and then jumping off the cliff into the abyss.

* Dying broke means living well.”