A Walk In The Park (Plaza): Words To Live By    Part 3: Don’t be too serious about life 

By Mayer Smith


Make the most of what life brings and enjoy it. It is not necessary to spend a lot of money to enjoy life but don’t be stingy either.  Sometimes a wise expenditure can bring great satisfaction.  Nothing is worth the price of worry.  It doesn’t help and it saps your energy. 

Life presents us with many responsibilities during our lifetimes. Some demand our serious fulfillment without deviation… such as fidelity in a marriage and providing care for our children during their formative years.  

Others are less stringent.  For example, some spouses are delighted when mates bring home surprise gifts.  Others, like mine, would rather be asked what they have secretly had a desire for but have not expressed it….often because of limited funds…or because it would seem more like a gift to be asked than to ask for it.  

I have been in both financial situations in my lifetime… i.e. – blessed with a full bank account and was easily able to pay full college tuitions for two of my children at some periods and only enough in my pants for one gallon of gas when I had to go on a sales interview at another time.  My youngest child cut a deal with me when I was flush.  He asked “If I get my Master’s Degree in 3-1/2 years, will you give me the money for the last semester and let me get my Doctorate whenever I decide I want to go for it?” I said “Run it by your Mom. She writes the checks.”  He said “Good.  I can get by her.”  And that’s what he did…and we honored the agreement and gave him the money we didn’t have to pay for the last semester.  He became so successful he was able to retire at age 45 – a wealthy man.  He married an equally bright woman who achieved a Master’s in Finance at age 21 and became the highest ranked woman on Amoco’s payroll.  When BP bought Amoco, they didn’t have a woman at her level so they gave her a buyout.  Both enjoyed a few retirement years together doing good charitable works until she died at age 51 of cancer.  They used their money well. He still does. There are two sons. One is an architect; the other is a financial adviser with an MBA in Finance from Emory University.  I’m proud of my grandkids….all seven of them. The others have succeeded or are succeeding in their own ways.   

My middle child found ways to get both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree on his own at Carnegie Mellon. One of his children had to fight being bi-polar to get her Bachelor’s degree last year. That is a real achievement. 

My most recent expenditures have brought me great satisfaction by paying off all outstanding college loans for my grandchildren.  Needless to say, it made them very happy too.  My wife passed away 5 years ago and at age 94, I am not worried that I will outlive my funds. I am hopeful of leaving my heirs a substantial sum in addition to a meaningful life insurance policy and a trust fund left by my wife.  This kind of financial planning should play a part in your plans if your situation enables you to do so.  If not, husband your money carefully.  You will need it in your later years.   

But, make sure to find ways to enjoy life within your means. It’s not that hard to do.