Recently, as most of you may know, the date for the end of days has been predicted, arrived on the calendar, and passed without incident. I am not here to discuss the validity, probability, or benefits of religion and the belief system which profoundly funds its existence. However, amid the various tangents of stories surrounding the MAY 21st 2011 prediction, I was most intrigued by the many followers, who emptied their savings accounts, drained their children’s college funds, and maxed out their credit cards. Working in the financial services for some time now, many of my clients usually inquire to see how to do just the complete opposite. Save money, guarantee a future for their children, and minimize the costs of creating and maintaining a strong credit rating and score. As the details of so many consumers from across the country start to come to light, regarding their financial situations before and after this prediction, I realized the time to address this phenomenon is now. Again, I am not here to affirm or deny religious beliefs, but to offer my opinion on preparing oneself for any disaster, real or imagined.
I will start this article by discussing some of the examples of our fellow Americans who’s real cash flow was affected by this impending timeline on May 21st 2011. Hopefully by sharing these news worthy stories, all of us can learn just a little bit more about finances. The Prediction itself was the work of Harold Camping, a Christian Radio Broadcaster from Oakland, California.
The first and probably most dedicated of the end of day’s believers is Robert Fitzpatrick. Mr. Fitzpatrick is a retired MTA employee who lives in New York. As a strong believer in the rapture and a devoted follower of Harold Camping, Mr. Fitzpatrick spent his entire life savings, nearly one hundred and forty thousand dollars ($ 140,000.00) on marketing and advertising all around the state of New York promoting judgment day. The MTA pension he earned after retirement is now his only source of income. At one hundred forty thousand ($140,000.00) Mr. Fitzpatrick had a considerable amount of savings, almost double the national average for someone his age ($70,000.00), according to the EBRI. Below, you can see that the national average savings for U.S. consumers is broken down by age.
Then there is 27-year-old Adrienne Martinez. She is married and together with her husband, Joel, have a young daughter, they lived and worked in New York City. Adrienne had aspirations of going to medical school, until she began tuning in to Harold Camping on Family Radio. About a year ago, they decided they wanted to spend their last year on Earth in Orlando Florida. A year later, they lived in a rented house in Orlando, passing out flyers professing the end of the world. The couple is expecting a second child in June. They had calculated what it was going to cost them to the dollar, of living out their lives until the very end. They had no Plan B. Although it not quite clear exactly how much they had in their savings, Couples who are planning to have children, need to budget very carefully. According to the Department of Agriculture, middle class parents can expect to spend roughly eleven thousand ($11,700.00) each year on a baby. The average price for delivering a baby is between nine thousand ($9,000.00) and twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000.00).
And then there is the case of Jeff Hopkins a former television producer who lives in New York. Mr. Hopkins spent a vast sum of his own retirement savings on gasoline, he also retrofitted his car with banners, signs, and lighted sign to promote the May 21st end of days date. As the date approached, Mr. Hopkins started making the 100-mile round trip from Long Island to New York City twice a day, spending at least $150 on gas each trip. In my last article I mentioned the price of gasoline in the bay area and the average price of gasoline in the country. With Memorial Day approaching this weekend, gas prices have started to drop an average of .19 cents, perhaps a little too late, for Mr. Hopkins.
So what lessons can be learned from these examples of people who seemed to have a sound financial plan and adequate savings for the future? We all need to remember that disasters come in all shapes and sizes. As I type these words, our neighbors in Missouri and Oklahoma are dealing with the tragedy and grief in the wake of some very devastating tornadoes. Our neighbors on the other side of the world in Japan just felt the awesome power of the earth as it shifts beneath our feet. Many countries, including The United States are seeing financial disasters affect employment, housing, and health care. It is imperative all of us have an adequate emergency fund. A good benchmark is have in your account is one full year of your monthly expenses. I can relate to many followers and believers of the end of days when they say, “You can’t take your money with you.” That is true, but if I can’t take it with me, why spend it all, especially before knowing if you’ll actually need it here while still alive, just in case of an emergency, like the world not coming to an end.