From the very early days of 2007. My son was young, and he enjoyed playing in the McDonald’s play structure. From one instance, a financial parable was born.
Yesterday on my vacation day, I took my son to McDonald’s, just so we both got out of the house for a little while. He enjoys snarfing back some “hot cakes” and such, and there is a fun play area with a play structure in it. This play structure is a set of tubes with more interesting turns than my upper intestine.
I sat down and had my coffee, and my son ran off and played with the kids there and generally had a good time. My son is tentative about taking risks, but he will tend to go with the flow and join in if he is with a more raucous group.
After reading the paper I realized after about 5 minutes that I hadn’t seen my son, and I panicked. I started to look frantically around the play area and didn’t see him, but luckily the play structure has seen through “windows” in some areas, so you might be able to see what is going on inside of it.
Looking through 2 portals I saw nothing, but finally saw my son sitting in the middle of the structure 1/2 way up, smiling and laughing at me. My panic subsided, and I went back to my paper and coffee.
More time passed, and I realized it was time to leave, yet my son was still in the same place, so I started to motion him to come down so we could go home. This didn’t work, as he continued to move back and forth in this one area but did not go up or come down.
I motioned with more emphasis that I wanted him to come down. He continued to sit there, and then I realized that he was STUCK in the middle of this play structure, and the only way I could extricate him would be by going in myself and getting him out of this twisted prison. I managed to twist, turn, and swear (under my breath) and finally was able to reach his leg and start to pull. Then it dawned on me how petrified he was, as he held onto whatever he could with a death grip. It took a great deal of work to pull him down from his perch, and finally, he came down to me, and I was able to get him out of the play structure.
I learned a few things from this bit of bad planning on my part:
- Don’t let my son play anywhere that I cannot get easy access to him.
- I should keep a closer eye on him when he plays to make sure he doesn’t find somewhere interesting to get stuck in.
- Keep a ferret or a plumbers snake with me at all times.
What does this have to do with Financial Planning?
Think of my son as your money, specifically your retirement savings (or any long-term investment). The easiest thing to do is to give your money to someone else or invest in something and forget about it, but what happens if you take your eye off it? Will your money find a place where you can’t quickly extricate it and use it better elsewhere? Will it just get lost so you can’t find it? Maybe you should keep a closer eye on it?
Thus ends today’s parable, we will now sing from the Blue Hymn Book #421.