Financial Literacy 2007 - Retirement
Stephen Pollan
Forget about retiring, live rich and die broke

q_v2.gifYou were a voice in the wilderness when you championed the stodgy old annuity back in the roaring 90s.

a_v2.gifOh yeah. The only people who really enjoyed what I was saying were the older population in Florida who stopped going to the early bird. I'm serious. Look, money is not an icon, money is not a symbol; it's a tool to do stuff with. The minute you die, it becomes useless as a tool. You want to enjoy life better? See the results of what your money does. You can't hear "thanks" from the grave.

q_v2.gifAre you surprised at the changes that "Die Broke" has brought about?

a_v2.gifI'm sort of very proud now, sincerely, about "Die Broke" because it really came from the corner of one of my closets, and I'm glad that it's accepted. I see so many senior businessmen giving out their money now. We are no longer measured at all by the size of our fortunes; it's what we do with it.

q_v2.gifYou also rejected the notion of the actuarial dart toss where you guess a date of death and all retirement planning flows backward from that.

a_v2.gifI never had much regard for the calendar. People should not be living their lives based on the calendar. The calendar is only good to ascertain how many candles you should have on your cake. Two things you should never do are live by the calendar and compare yourself against others.

q_v2.gifYou continue to hold with the one "Die Broke" tenet that puzzles some, which is, don't retire.

a_v2.gifBecause leisure is lethal. My wife and I are both 78. Age is a matter of what's between your ears. Most of age is created by attitude; I think attitude is a life-extender, exuberance is a life-extender. You know, you can talk yourself into death. Life is just so great that you should never make plans for anything else. The nicest thing about life, I've discovered, is to have somebody in your life that you would take a bullet for, and that's what you have when you have kids. Then it's all about love.

q_v2.gifHere's the $64,000 question. Are you going to die broke?

a_v2.gifYep. We've given all of our property away to our kids already and what we're planning to do with our IRAs and defined benefit plans and all that is convert them into annuities based on two lives. The annuity can be immediate. If we bought a $2 million annuity now based on two lives, we would be collecting, starting next week, $175,000 a year. We hope to get the best yield possible, but the last check is going to be to the undertaker. And it's going to bounce.

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