We are all familiar with the images. Sometimes hidden in the shuffle of “Baby On Board”, “Honor Student” and “favorite team” stickers and other window pasties, they are there and we have seen them. The well intended but horribly mixed messaged “In Loving Memory of….” tributes tattooing the back windows of vehicles as though conveying some sort of rolling shrine or dedication status to an ordinary heap of car parts.
I’ll eventually update my own Will to say so, but in the meantime allow this request to suffice, if I am able to leave enough money behind for my heirs to buy a new car… please, please, please care enough for my memory so as to not affix my name as justification to your impulsive and self serving poor decision.
Now I will pause just long enough to allow for the idea that most folks who so emblazon their cars do so with appropriate intentions. But borrowing from an old saying about intentions, we can agree that the best of intentions do not always yield the best of decisions.
Here are the basic ingredients in my homemade case: we love and want to visibly honor the memory of our lost loved ones, while sad for the loss we are pleased to receive an inheritance, most folks already have some sort of monthly debts chipping away at their freedom (credit cards, existing car loans, student loans, mortgages, etc), most new cars are clearly and (overwhelming so) a horrible financial decision, and finally, we all still want a new car.
So, for many, at an already emotional time we’ll impulse an emotional decision related to a topic, personal finance, which is already an emotional tinder box. And with, quite literally, window dressing we’ll pave over the entire transaction, insulating it from criticism because of what we intent it to represent.
But pause now, free from the moment, and consider the ridiculousness of the entire transaction. A relative dies leaving a portion of their life’s work which is immediately exchanged for an asset universally known for its eroding value and limited shelf life.
Which is to say nothing for an inevitably dirty, rust heap-y, poorly maintained rolling tribute cutting me off in traffic with horns blaring and birds flipping… ah the memories.
No, that is so clearly not the legacy I care to leave nor that I can in good conscious attribute to a departed family member. Rather than shuck my portion of someone’s life work into a chasm in exchange for a fleeting pleasure, I would rather invest those dollars in my future and the future of our family. Use those dollars and the efforts they represent to enable us to stand on the shoulders of those going before us rather than as an anchor holding us back and weighing us down.
Sending a child to college, eliminating debt, securing your future, and ensuring you leave a financial legacy are less glamorous in the moment but they enable a lasting memorial, an ongoing and continual nod to those we loved, and still love even today.
Photo By: stevelyon
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