One-Time Expenses are Rarely One Time

It would be a one-time expense. 

He was not asking my permission. He was notifying me of a change I was now being tasked to make in his retirement plan. 

He drove that change to our meeting. I had not previously thought of him as a tricked-out Escalade kind of guy, but there he was in all his dazzling black and silver trim glory, smiling ear to ear. 

I’d heard the speech before. The speech is supposedly directed at me, explaining the perfect rationale of spending $60,000 extra dollars out of already meager retirement savings on a car that made no sense for him.

“I’ve been working hard all my life and I just think I deserve a little present for my retirement.”

Of course. Sorry I missed it. The universe owes you a new car at retirement, so obviously the universe is going to come to your rescue when you run out of money. He ignored my concerns with a glib “you worry too much” kind of comment and drove on.

I reduced the number in his financial plan we were using to represent the money he had to produce a retirement income by $60,000. 

In the years that followed, a pattern of communication developed that became rather predictable. About once a year (sometimes twice), he would call instructing us to send him more money. This was in addition to the monthly draw he was making on his retirement funds.

Each time he called for more money, he reassured us this was for a “one-time” expense. 

Sometimes it was a once-in-a-lifetime vacation (did you know you can have more than one of those in your lifetime?). Other times were admirable expenditures for the good of grandchildren. I remember the generator that needed to be installed because of a recent power failure which cut off their electricity for 30 minutes. 

We finally parted company when my warnings started to sound too much like whining to him. He fired me. 

I lost track of him after that, but I always wondered whether or not he outlasted his money. A premature death seemed the only way he would make his money last longer than he would.

“One-time” expenses are the self-induced financial cancer of too many retirees. 

F.B. Meyer said, “No man suddenly becomes base,” referring to moral behavior. I could say the same from my experiences about personal finances and retirement…no retiree suddenly becomes broke.

It happens one one-time-expense at a time. 

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