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You Can't Take It With You

This feature presents the opinions and views of Motley Fool readers as posted on our discussion boards. Posts selected for this feature are likely part of an ongoing conversation. To fully enjoy the whole conversation, click into the discussion board linked at the end of this article.

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By Roger Vine
January 10, 2002

An old acquaintance of mine died just before Christmas after a very brief illness. It goes without saying that this was a tragedy for his wife and family. My Mum (herself 79) always says death in youth is tragic, but less so in old age. The acquaintance was 70, so he didn't die young. The tragedy for me was that he died rich, a multi-millionaire in fact. So why, you ask, was that a tragedy? I'll explain.

My acquaintance had been a Fool for 30 years. He'd had a good professional job and had done all the things they advocate here at The Motley Fool -- lived below his means and steadily drip-fed his spare cash into individual stocks; no funds, no pension, no speculative growth stocks, just steady blue-chips. By the time he was 60, my acquaintance was already a very rich man, with an opportunity many would envy. I guess we all have different ideas of what we'd do with time and lots of money. Buy a yacht and sail the Caribbean; move to the mountains to hike all summer and ski all winter; get a big RV and become a snowbird; take the family on a world cruise; live on a golf course; finally drive that Ferrari; whatever.

So what did my acquaintance do? You guessed it. Precisely nothing. Worked for another five years, lived in the same big, shabby house his kids had grown up in, drove a car worth maybe five hundred bucks. He told me he couldn't begin to spend the dividends, let alone dent the capital. Why? It's possible he liked it that way, wanted to leave the kids enough to make them lazy and make a big bequest to the Tax Man, but I doubt it. I suspect that what happened was over the years he lost sight of his investment goals and started to focus on the numbers. The money itself became the thing: saving it, counting it, watching it grow. Sad because we all know you can't take it with you. One life, no rehearsals and all that. Money is only good for what you can do with it.

So keep your investment goals in sight and whatever it is you're dreaming of, have the courage to know when you have enough to achieve it and don't wait. Gold casket handles are a mighty poor reward for a life of hard work.

This article was submitted to the Fool via email. We welcome any and all submissions for the In My Opinion column, so email us today!

We select Community Articles from messages that members of The Motley Fool community (and not Fool employees) post to Fool discussion boards to provide interesting perspectives. Posts are edited only for readability (plus spelling). They may not reflect the opinions of The Motley Fool or its employees, who cannot warrant that they are accurate, useful or fun (although we hope they are). The authors may hold positions in the securities they mention. As always, don't make financial decisions based just upon what you read here - do your own homework and make your own decisions. For more information click here

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