Several days ago I read two articles that really surprised me. The first was a report on a poll from Gallup that showed only 32% of Americans put together a budget each month to track income and expenditures and that just 30% have a long-term financial plan laying out savings and investment goals. It also said that only about a quarter of those with a high school diploma or less say they live on a written budget. I guess to borrow a line from our puppet Spacecat, those results just "blow my mind". How do people live without following a written budget or financial plan? The poll also asked those who didn't maintain a budget why they skip it. The most frequent response is that they spend it all anyhow. So I guess the majority of folks live paycheck to paycheck, without a plan. No wonder most are deep in debt with little hope of ever digging out. I would also be in deep trouble if I didn't have a written monthly plan that I attempt to follow. Of course, most Americans appear to follow the example of our government leaders who are leading us into bankruptcy with their uncontrolled spending and lack of planning or discipline. The second article that surprised me is very similar. Two-thirds of adult Americans are estimated to be without a will. Many people mistakenly assume if they die, their spouses will automatically inherit everything. That's simply not the case. It's shocking how many people don't take the time to write a will to make sure their families are taken care of when they die. Not only does the state get to make this decision, but family fights could tie up your estate in probate court causing expenses and delays; When you die intestate, meaning without a will, your estate will be divided according to the laws of the state in which you reside. The state will decide how your property is to be distributed. Most states generally distribute estates according to the following rules, with some variations: 1. If you have no children, your spouse will receive your property. 2. Your spouse receives half your property, if you leave one child or children of one deceased child. 3. Your spouse receives one-third of your property if you leave two or more children, or one child and descendants of one or more deceased children. If you are not married and have no children living or deceased, your property will generally be distributed to the following people, in this order: 1. Your parents 2. Your brothers and sisters or, if they are not alive, their children 3. Your grandparents or, if they are not alive, their children (i.e., your uncles and aunts) 4. The children of your deceased spouse 5. Any relatives of your deceased spouse 6. The state of your legal residence. Of course, if you don't live on a budget, maybe there won't be anything left when you die, so why worry about a will! I guess I feel strongly about the fact that as a child of God, all that I have belongs to Him. And, because of that, I need to be a good steward of what He allows me to have. And doing that requires me to plan wisely and honor Him not only with my money, but with my actions and decisions. But then that is just the opinion of an old, retired math educator who has a will and has always lived on a written monthly budget. I guess I am just one of the 33%.
4 days ago