Right or wrong? Yes!

Roger Schlesinger
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Posted: Aug 21, 2006 12:00 AM

Before I explain my confusing headline, I need to explore the difference between old and young. Everyone understands youth, but no one understands or is prepared for old age. Youth is fleeting to some and never ending to others. Songs are written about it: Nat King Cole's "Too Young to Go Steady", and the line that took me years to understand by Frank Sinatra "Youth is wasted on the young". People have written about the fountain of youth, young love and child prodigies.

But what about old age? Oh sure we hear stories about older people setting all kinds of records, but these are really older people in their 80's and 90's. The record setting king of old is Jack LaLane. He does things on his birthday that people couldn't accomplish during a whole year, let alone one day. George Burns and Bob Hope lived to 100 and we were all dazzled by their awareness during the last few years.

Those examples are great, but they don't help us understand the transition from youth to the dreaded "old age". And it is that transition that directly relates to the headline of this article. How do we know, when do we realize that we are getting "a little long in the tooth". One way for sure is to get out of bed every morning and take an inventory. What hurts today? When this first started happening, I asked my doctor “What's going on? Every day it's something else”. He simply said it is the aging process. I prefer my explanation better. There is a little man who lives in my body who moves around with a little hammer and takes a swing or two each night and voilà! In my 50's it was annoying, but now I expect it and it doesn't bother me as much.

It appears we know when we are young: Too much energy and too little money; and we can feel the aging: A lot less energy and still not enough money. And we arrive at OLD: not enough energy and sufficient or excess money. I know - why can't we have more money early and more energy late? We probably could have, if someone had told us.

The two most unprepared events in a person's life are parenthood and growing old.

Why we as a culture do not spend time with our kids talking and explaining each, I will never understand. I am drifting off the point, so here comes the thesis: Should I take money out of my house and invest ,or should I pay off my house? The number one answer depends on where you are age wise: chronologically and psychologically.

If you have the stamina and drive to continue building your fortune it doesn't matter what your driver's license says, you are young enough to go for it. If you haven't the slightest inclination to rebuild your financial life, should you make a mistake with your venture or luck turns against you, again your driver's license doesn't count -- you are too old for the risk. I believe The Mills Brothers had a song with a line, "I know a man who was old at 33, don't let it happen to you and don't let it happen to me". Risk is only one test and not the big one; desire is really what keeps us young.

Just because you are young doesn't mean you should go ahead and destroy what you have built without accomplishing what you have set out for. You need to develop a plan (see my column on 8/05), set up reserves (see column 7/19), do exhaustive research and continue to monitor your progress with the acumen to make the proper changes.

I took the scenic route to the end result: There isn't a wrong answer, nor a right answer to the question, just your answer. I am on the fence. I am too young in my mind to stop my real estate ventures, but am cognizant that starting over would interfere with my golf and that's not going to happen. Where are you?