Remember The $6 Million Man? Back in the 1970s when the TV drama about the astronaut turned bionic superhero aired, that was a lot of money. These days, it's chump change. The EPA puts a human life's value at $9.1 million. The FDA says $7.9 million. Apparently, the Transportation Department is stuck in the '70s; they've got us pegged at the price tag for Steve Austin's bionic limbs: $6 million. These agencies need to calculate our worth in the case of lawsuits involving airline crashes, toxic spills, deadly drugs and the like. When I read a New York Times story about how these various arms of the government arrive at their calculations, it got me thinking.
Using the $9 million model (I think I'm worth it, don't you?) I've already spent $6 million of my life. If I'm lucky I've got $3 million to go. It's a sobering thing to consider that two-thirds of your life is gone. But I refuse to be a gloomy Gus.
Instead, I'm going to think like Marvin, my financial adviser, plotting the best way to deploy my assets into the future. For most of us at midlife (okay, okay, the math doesn't work, but I'm planning to continue calling myself a midlifer until I collect my first Medicare check), we have more money and time than ever before. We're at the pinnacle of our career, the top of our game. Unless you're like my friend Claire, who at 58 has a six-year-old son, our kids are probably off at college or grown and gone.
I like the concept of literally "spending" the rest of my life. Having $3 million left focuses the mind wonderfully. Putting a price on my life can motivate me to get our money's worth. If I live three more decades, that's a hundred grand a year. I plan to ask myself at least once a week – make that Sunday afternoons when things quiet down and I have some time to think — whether I'm spending it wisely. Am I booking enough time with family and friends? Is my work satisfying? Am I doing a little good in the world? What do I need to tweak, overhaul to make things better? Have I gotten (and given) my money's worth every day this week? So far, running a balance sheet on my life has got me keeping in better touch with my Mom in Florida, my daughter and son-in-law in California and my husband right here at home. Relationships are the riches of life and I intend to get my money's worth. How about you?
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