Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Is There Such a Thing as Being Too Responsible?

Is there such a thing as being "too responsible?" Is there such a thing as being "too cautious?"

Well, it depends on the consequences. For instance, in firearms training, students are taught to be extremely cautious and responsible, as the consequences of mishandling a firearm can be, and often are, deadly.

To answer the question "How much responsibility is enough?” we have to understand what the consequences are of not being economically responsible.

What do we know about life? We know that it rarely goes as planned. We know that not everyone lives to an advanced age. We know we can't really predict the future. We don't know what the driver in the next lane or the next mile is or will be doing. We don't know if our company will get bought out. We don't know if our knowledge or functionality will become obsolete. We don’t know if there is a stray virus hanging around somewhere. We do know there is so much out there that is out of our control.

We know that bad things happen to good people.

So, the consequence of not being prepared, of not living economically responsible, has high consequences at times. Not everyone will die early and suddenly. Not everyone will become disabled. Not everyone will loose a job. But, like the consequences of mishandling a firearm, when these things happen, and they do happen, the consequences can be devastating.

In light of the nature of life, it makes sense to create a minimum level of precaution. I love that word, precaution. It's "pre-" and "caution:” being careful ahead of time. The time to be cautious when handling a loaded gun is before it goes off, not afterward! The time to put mechanisms in place to handle the crises that are an inherent part of life is before they have a chance to happen, not afterward.

At a minimum, it's my opinion that everyone who has people depending on his or her paycheck out to have enough life insurance so that the survivors can live indefinitely with out having to touch the principle. Or at least enough income for the dependent children to grow up. And, since people can loose jobs, it makes sense to have 6 months worth of income socked away too.

Overly cautious? It depends on if you're going to be one of the people who won't make it to old age, or looses a job. We just don't know. We just don't know when that firearm might discharge.

There are other precautions--being careful ahead of time--which I think are important: no consumer debt. No credit cards. No car loans. I know, not everyone is willing to do that. It's inconvenient and gets in the way of our desires. We all have a long "want list." I want a new car. I want a nice vacation this year. I want a new set of clothes. I want to eat out at a nice restaurant. Funny how those wants fade into insignificance when life gets tough.

Bottom line: the consequences of mishandling life can be tremendously painful and devastating. Being careful before you have to be creates a powerful safety net that is not wasted and, if needed, is indispensable.

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