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Dipping into nest egg can cause you to crack up

You can talk about seizing the day all you want, but when the time comes to actually carpe the diem, putting up or shutting up can be a little scary.

When my grandparents retired, I remember asking them if they had enough money.

"Tell me when I am going to die," said my grandmother, who, at about my current age of 60, seemed incredibly old to me, "and I'll tell you if I have enough money."

Her concerns made sense, but I remember thinking that I didn't want to live like that. I wanted to live life to the fullest and, as the popular saying goes, have my last check bounce.

But that devil-may-care bravado doesn't get you past all the practical considerations when the day comes to start spending, and you start doing a lot of thinking based on actuarial tables, medical history, stock market trends, 401(k) figures and other variables.

You start trying to plot the point at which a lot of different life and financial curves will intersect, and, in my case, wishing you had paid more attention in high school calculus class.

Okay, I'll be honest. You start wishing you hadn't flunked Algebra II so you could have gone on to trigonometry and calculus, and you hope that your surface knowledge of calculus having something to do with curves and axes is on-point enough so that several hundred math-literate readers won't write in to point out what a moron you are.

Is this upward trend in the market a good thing?

Is this heart murmur a serious factor?

If my father had taken better care of himself, would he have lived longer?

If I took better care of myself, would I?

Will there be too much money left at the end of the life, or too much life left at the end of the money?

And there is the "What will I be doing when I reach that age?" issue.

Will I, at 80 if I get that far, still feel like scampering around the side of a mountain at a clothing-optional campground in Colorado? (Yeah, I know, sorry about that visual with your morning cereal.)

You can shoot from the prognosticatory hip on a lot of those situations and say, okay, maybe I won't be as active then as I am now and won't need the money, but then you think about inflation, and about friends you have who, in their mid 80s still put in longer days at more energetic pursuits than you do.

And you wonder about the wisdom of creating what could become self-fulfilling prophecies about how you will feel a couple of decades down the road if you get that far. If you expect to be inactive and unhealthy, will you feel obligated to actually be that way?

Leaving a big estate isn't an issue for me.

My wife and children are self-supporting, and my wife has made it clear that she would rather see me have fun with what money I have than live to a penny-pinching old age.

But then comes the day when you actually have to transfer a big chunk of money from your retirement account into accounts where it will be more accessible in supporting your avowedly chosen lifestyle.

It's kind of fun, kind of adventurous and kind of, okay, pretty, scary.

It is admitting, on one of the several levels at which we all deal with such issues, that you are mortal and there really will come a day when either your life account or your bank account will be empty and trying to draw any more on one, the other, or both, will be impossible.

I made the move early in the morning when I was still half asleep; handled the transaction by telephone and then rushed off to run some errands, stopping en route to call my wife and tell her to go ahead and start shopping for a new couch to replace the threadbare, cat-shredded model that I had been promising to do something about for the past four years.

Okay, it isn't exactly a Ferrari or QEII tickets for a cruise around the world, but it's a start.

Although there is this camper van that I have kind of had my eye on and who says 60 is too told for racing stripes?

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