Sunday, 5 October 2014

My Best Investment Ever

I've been thinking a lot about money the last few days, mostly triggered by my Statement of Account from the Canada Revenue Agency and a recent parking ticket. There is a reason they call ALS the "bankruptcy disease". When I got sick, my costs took off, my living expenses remained the same, and my income plummeted. This is the pattern for most PALS. I've been thinking about it a bit more this morning, but also a bit differently.

I had a financial plan for retirement. It was pretty simple. Pay off the house. A few years before retirement, buy new vehicles so I could pay them off before retirement. Maybe even buy a newer boat if things worked out well. Hit age 65 with a mortgage free home, reasonably new vehicles, and about $350,000 to $500,000 in our joint RRSP's. I was well on the way to this, and then came the financially devastating divorce.

Now it's a race between me and my RRSP to see which runs out first. In the beginning I thought my RRSP would live longer than me; now I am not so sure. I seem to be doing better than expected; not a lot better, but enough that I am fairly sure that when my RRSP runs out next June or July, I will still be chugging along. At that point things will be very difficult; we'll have to see how it works out. All I know for sure is that Visa and the CRA are going to get a bit of a shock.

As I look at how I did investing over the years, I must say I am fairly pleased with myself. I made money on my home, or rather my wife and I made money there; I've made money on both the apartments I owned when separated from my wife. I did well with the investments in my RRSP. I had savings in the bank and had finally purchased the vehicle of my dreams. Then came ALS and it put a stop to all that.

I know others who have done much better than me financially; made more money, kept more of what they made; perhaps lived more frugally. I don't envy them nor am a jealous of what they have. I wonder at times if the price they have paid for having that money was worth what it cost them to keep it, but that is a different thing.

The thing that I have done, the place where I have invested most heavily, has been in my children. I have always tried to be generous with them, giving them opportunities and experiences, taking them on trips and travel, helping them whenever I could. I have always felt that the only real investments in life are the intangible ones. Sure, I would have like to have made and kept more money, but never for a moment would I have traded that money for the happiness of my children.

I am leaving soon. I will leave nothing behind me. Some will think that irresponsible. Some will think that laudable. I think it is simply another result of ALS. Without this disease I would still be investing in my children, still be helping them, still be working towards a future that is better for them than my past was for me. My children are the best investment I ever made.

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