Wednesday, August 10, 2011
A long time ago, a man who was my sponsor told me I should never lend money to friends, that if I really wanted to help, then I should simply give them the funds and be done with it… His reasoning was sound; loans imply resentments, gifts do not.
I was thinking of this because I recently reviewed my will. I do this every few years; as I get older, I want to make sure all the i’s are doted and the t’s crossed. I have known too many people who died intestate; the financial messes they left behind were really unforgivable and the cause of untold misery to their inheritors.
One section found in most wills is the declaration of debts forgiven. In my case, I am letting several people off the hook to the tune of some $54,000.
That’s a used Aston Martin in really good condition. A vintage 1956 Fender Stratocaster Guitar with a twill hard case. A 3-months-long trip to Europe (staying with friends, of course). I could have a swimming pool put in my backyard, or fix all my cars so they would look brand new, or sign myself into a fat farm for a few weeks.
Basically, it’s a whole lot of money.
The loans—no, the gifts—were all made when I had more funds available than I do now, when I was a bit more profligate, perhaps even cavalier, about the concept of future costs and potential market meltdowns. At the time it seemed like the right thing to, and to tell the truth, it still seems like the right thing to do. I am amazed that I can look fairly deeply inside myself and feel no regrets or resentment, no bitterness whatever about the transactions. I am pleased with the fact that somewhere and somehow I have managed to keep a modicum of restraint when it comes to spending. I have no credit card debt; I owe nothing save my mortgage and the monthly payments I make to own some lovely undeveloped acreage in Southern Virginia. I try to keep my ledger as clean as possible and, when I can, Ipay some costs ahead of time.
This being said, yes, of course I could use the money. Geez, $54K, who wouldn’t find some way to spend that?
So all you folks to whom I lent, no gave, money, well, you know who you are. And if any of you hit the lottery or inherited more than you can deal with, I’m still here.