by David Sisler

Worth magazine says it is the financial wave of the future, the very newest thing in investing--dying broke. Dying broke--that's the new buzz word in the world of money. The idea no longer is to leave a large inheritance for your children. You are supposed to make wise use of your money today, make prudent investments, help somebody who needs it, take that European vacation while you're young enough to enjoy it, or help one of the grand kids with his college tuition. In other words, spend it now, don't leave it for the heirs to fight over.

For as long as I can remember my Dad has had that philosophy. I've never known whether he is being serious or joking, but he swears his will says, "I, Melvin David Sisler, being of sound mind, spent it all."

Money is best used, this philosophy says, while its owner is alive to see the benefits. Dying broke doesn't mean not saving--or not planning carefully for the future. In fact, it requires at least as much thought as any other financial philosophy. But it differs from traditional strategies by not putting off enjoyment until it is too late.

Frank and Sandra were living happily under the old philosophy. They purchased a small house which they began to remodel. It was their pride and joy and they worked on it every day and on weekends. Frank had a good job. He had purpose and goals in his life. He was going forward.

Frank was a man of routine and so one evening when he did not arrive home on time, Sandra began to get worried. Frank always rode a motorcycle and she immediately began to fear the worst. Knowing which route he always took home, she began to backtrack. She found his motorcycle at the police station. Inside, her husband was being charged with molesting two young boys, one eight-years-old, one nine.

Frank protested he had never touched the boys. He knew them. He had seen them and been friendly with them. He had stopped and talked to them and played with their dog, but nothing more.

Frank and Sandra hired an attorney, mortgaged their little home and borrowed everything they could from their relatives.

The investigating officer had handled more than 5000 such cases. She was an expert in uncovering and prosecuting child abuse. The jury believed the two boys and Frank was sentenced from five years to life.

After three months in the penitentiary, the judge released Frank. Never before had the judge taken such an action, but he said he just didn't feel right about the case.

One night Frank got the good news. The boys confessed they had been lying. The investigating officer erased 25 minutes of the oldest boy's 35 minute testimony. Seven years later Frank and Sandra received a settlement of $100,000 from the city, but it barely paid off their debts. They had long since lost their dream home.

If Frank hears the word "arrest" on television, he is subject to having a severe anxiety attack. If he sees a small boy approaching him, he will stop and go the other way. The once happy young couple is now consumed with the nightmare of what happened.

Dying broke, for Frank and Sandra, no longer seems an option. It seems to be their only alternative.

Financial planning is always about the future. Frank and Sandra believe that they have no future. They believe that the stigma of their past will always be in front of them. In fact, they moved 1500 miles away from the city they once called home.

Imagine having two little boys lie about you, claiming that you molested them and then being sentenced to five years to life. Imagine not knowing whether or not you will ever get out, and at the same time, knowing you are innocent.

I don't know if Frank and Sandra have ever heard the Apostle Paul's admonition of the believers in Philippi: "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." But if they will put this behind them and claim Jesus Christ, they can forge ahead and not let the past determine all their years to come.

There may have been something in your life which was just as traumatic, but if you will look back to your future in Jesus Christ, instead of looking back to your past without Him, you will find there is a better option than dying broke. It is an option no stockbroker, no insurance agent would guarantee, but God has. And He guaranteed it with the life of His only Son.

Published in the Augusta Chronicle 11/25/95

Copyright 1995 by David Sisler

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