Goodreads asked Stanley Arthur Riggs:

Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?

Stanley Arthur Riggs FAILING MY OWN MOTHER

I sat in the “nice” nursing home watching the 96-year-old, 5 foot, 85 pound shadow of my mother nod off during our conversation.

She was one of the cherished “private pay” residents. Only the accounting office—not the nursing staff or other residents—knew whose retirement savings were being automatically debited by hundreds of dollars a day and whose expenses were being paid in full by Medicaid.

But I knew. I knew they were taking the money she had earned as a first grade teacher and which my father, now deceased, had earned as a small-town municipal worker. Their savings represented their combined 90 years of work. It was money they had saved by driving secondhand cars, taking day trip vacations and seldom choosing to dine out.

They could take money from her because she had saved it. They couldn’t take money from the others because they had chosen to enjoy spend it.

I advised my mother and father how to save, when I should have advised them how to spend.

I suggested responsible investment tools, when I should have suggested responsible, enjoyable experiences.

I encouraged financial safety, when I should have encouraged enjoyable living.

I am guilty of having failed my mother in a horrible and unforgivable way—one that she will never know, and I will never forget.

But I will not fail myself.

During 50 plus years of building wealth, I have learned three important principles:
(1) Know the difference between assets and liabilities and put money into the assets.
(2) Be aware of and understand the implications of the coming demographic changes.
(3) Always know where you are on the economic cycle and never forget the principal of reversion to the mean.

Over the last several years I have become aware of the threats that are facing my hard earned savings. I hear talk about “inequality of income,” but all I see is inequality of work effort. I read about the increase in the poverty rate but I also notice the dramatic decrease in the US labor force participation rate. I’m concerned about our country running out of money, but I also fear for the safety of the $11 trillion sitting, untaxed, in 401(k) and IRA plans, only a few keystrokes away from being nationalized and redistributed into underfunded union and municipal pension programs in the name of “fairness.” Anyone with any reasonable amount of net worth needs to give serious thought as to how they plan to keep from having their retirement savings redistributed in the not too distant future.

But just this past year, while visiting my mother in the nursing home, I came to realize that building wealth and keeping it safe is just opportunity unrealized unless until I actually convert it into “fun stuff” or meaningful gifting before it is taken away and before I die.

That is when I decided I needed a plan to responsibly and strategically spend down my entire net worth over a predetermined period of time and die broke—insolvent but not illiquid or destitute. And that’s just what I did.

I decided that at the end of my life, I am willing to be in voluntarily and strategically planned, diminished circumstances…but with great memories.

I plan to be the guy in the nursing home who is broke but with rich memories, rather than rich, but with broken dreams.

And, if I die doing what I love—sailing on my boat, perhaps during a storm—I will be going out of this world the same way I came into it…screaming, wet, bloody, and… of course, broke.
That hyphen between those two dates on your gravestone is not very long…so you need to get started now, regardless of your age.

So get on this ride, strap in and hold on, while you too learn how to build wealth, how to protect it, and how to give yourself permission to enjoy…spending it all.

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