Sound familiar? The above is the name of an Oscar winning movie of 1963 starring over 50 well-known names of the Hollywood era. The plot, to refresh you, was in the dying words of an ex-con (Jimmy Durante) as he tells 5 strangers about $350,000 he left buried in Santa Rosita State Park under the "Big W." A race ensues entwined with subplots including a detective (Spencer Tracy) who followed Durante for years trying to find the money and the trials and tribulations of the 50 some-odd (and I do mean odd!) characters on the hunt for the buried treasure. It’s an incredibly funny cross country race that’s has challenges at every turn, madcap comedy and drama, and... wait... sounds a lot like the trials and tribulations of each and every one of us on our own race to survive each and every day in our present day lives. I wonder if they could have predicted the future.
Life is unpredictable. Whether you consider it now, in 1963, or hundreds of years ago, the basic premise of survival hasn't changed much. A roof over our heads, food on the table, a safe haven for our family and if possible, some free time for a little shenanigans and fun. The further back you go, the shorter the life-span for a human was, and so there was less of a need for planning perhaps. On the other hand, the basic necessities above were just as important back then as they are today- we still need to eat, have shelter, and the desire for a safe environment for ourselves and our family. If all the basic needs have stayed the same throughout time, what do you suppose has changed in our now modern times to alter the way we plan for our future and life's necessities? In some respects, life is very different indeed- including the way we must plan and prepare differently than the time periods before. Certainly, many things have changed throughout the years, decades and centuries, causing us to make adjustments to survive and thrive. So much has changed that may contribute to the changes and needs to adapt, but nothing has changed more than one thing... the human life span. The question is: have you truly evolved with the times?
I am a planner. Planning entails looking forward, not backward. Planning takes thought, preparation and safety valves should things not go as planned, which you can plan on but not predict. This is a reason why everyone should have an emergency fund: equal to 6 months expenses, easily obtained should a true emergency arise and you have to get your hands on cash immediately. Let's talk about the concept of retirement. Everybody saves, but for how long are you saving? Like anything else, a dollar can only last so long, so you either have to plan carefully to have enough dollars, or plan how to make the dollars last. With mortality tables have us living to close to 90, and the average retirement age being 65, did you do enough planning to last 25 years, and beyond? Let's not forget contingencies, health and healthcare costs being the biggest of all- did you figure that in your plan? And then there's boomerang children... I always say, "they move out but they never leave." How much of your little darling’s junk are you still storing in your basement, when they have a house bigger than yours! Yes, times have changed... costs of goods and services rarely go down rather than up for more than a short period of time- did you put inflation and the ever-rising cost of services into your equation?
So, yes, 50 or so people ran off in a mad dash for the treasure of Santa Rosa State Park. If this were real life, the chances of finding the treasure would be pretty slim, as everyone wants to find it and live the easy life. That leaves the rest of us... 99.9%... to admit, even to ourselves, that we live in a mad, mad, mad, mad world, and the only control over it is the part we can control. Have you mapped out your plan for the race yet?