Bring it to Barb


Dear Barb,

How much money is enough money to bury me when I die? My hope is to have no money in my bank account when I take my last breath but my friends think I am selfish. They are all leaving lots to their family and kids. I am not dying of any disease, but is it wrong to just prepare for yourself and spend all the money you worked hard to make?

Worked Hard for My Money


Dear Worked Hard for My Money,

It has been said that the first generation makes the wealth, the second generation enjoys it, and the third generation squanders it. And the cycle usually repeats. It has been a recurring theme in well-to-do families for ages, and it’s one reason parents and grandparents today are feeling less and less inclined to leave inheritances.

To answer your question about the cost to have a service when you die, it is dependent on how elaborate your service would be. The average cost of cremation with no funeral or memorial service is $2,000. The average cost of cremation with a traditional funeral service is $10,000-$12,000. If you would like a traditional funeral service it is approximately $15,000 or more.

The practice of leaving an inheritance to one’s children has been occurring since ancient times. It is ingrained into our modern thinking. There is a bit of an assumption that the next generation should automatically receive something when their adult parents pass away.

Many retirees are opting to give money to their children before they die. Adult parents may feel the obligation to “reward” or “thank” their children for taking care of them in their old age.

The United States doesn’t stack up to some of the more generous countries. American retirees were the least likely to leave an inheritance, with only 56 percent expecting to give inheritances to their children.

Australian retirees are the most generous, with inheritances averaging more than $500,000, thanks in part to the country’s high real estate prices. Singapore was second at nearly $371,000 and the United Kingdom, France and Taiwan followed.

Reverse mortgages are a popular option for more cashflow for retirees, allowing those 62 and older to tap some of the equity in their homes without having to make any loan payments until they die or move out, leaving even less inheritance.

Money is valued the same as any commodity: The more there is of something and the easier it is to acquire, the more it is squandered. The less there is of something and the harder it is to acquire, the more hoarded or precious it becomes.

You worked hard to acquire your wealth, and likely have learned to associate reward with hard work, perseverance and sacrifice. Simply giving away such rewards to anyone who has done nothing for it goes against your ingrained sense of justice.

As I said before, when the supply of something important becomes uncertain, it is hoarded. It is an instinct hardwired into our brain to ensure self-preservation.

Selfish is different than self-preservation. During hard times, few are concerned over leaving anything behind for someone else. Trust your own gut and you’ll never be wrong. Ignore anyone’s standard, including your friends’, that differs since it is such an individual choice based on many complex factors.

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