I just read about Max Brooks, the writer of “World War Z” and son of Mel Brooks and Anne B. The fascination with zombies never ceases. It’s been with me since 1973. Every now and then I can feel a rotting biter close by.
I never miss an opportunity to see the living dead: Return of them, Day of, Dawn, Shaun, a couple of “Night” remakes and ostensibly, the comedic genius of Zombieland.
As I’ve been watching Zombieland lately, I realize how incredibly clever this movie remains, although like Max Brooks and other “zombie zealots” I do not dig nor do I want to believe in, the fast zombies. The ones who can run faster than me scare me the most. Zombieland is four years old and the wit is timeless.
Years ago, I created several rules of my own to survive a zombie holocaust. Little did
I know we all would find credible guidelines in action on the big screen. I should have
turned my love for those decaying creatures into something lucrative a long time ago but no,
I wanted to work with money.
That’s such zombie thinking! This zombie biz brings in like $6 billion a year. Not too shabby for rotting, maggot-infested moving corpses.
The character Columbus in Zombieland was always prepared. He was a meticulous planner.
A young man I respect. A geek for bleak times. A man-boy I’d be honored to travel alongside on blighted, zombie-infested highways. Why? Because not only was Columbus (nicknamed after his hometown, Columbus, Ohio), smart. He was funny. He was a fatalist with a passion to get laid, he had an irritable bowel (been there). He always accepted the dark, yet underneath was a flame of once was. A desire to live. A desire to see a hot brunette naked. Sigh.
Columbus was so human in zombie-infested world.
So in honor of you, Columbus and the opening of the movie “World War Z” I present the money rules of Zombieland (which are also worthwhile to consider while some of us prepare with alacrity for the zombie invasion. Apocalypse overused lately):
Rule #1 Cardio: The new breed of zombies doesn’t saunter (thank director Zack Snyder who brought back speed from the dead with his respectable remake of Dawn of the Dead). They run. Fast. You must stay in tip-top shape to survive in Zombieland. If you’re overweight in Zombieland, well, you’re done. Just done.
Take note of the humor of Zombieland as soon-to-be chubby victim is chased by zombie stripper with dollars secured in panties! Brilliant. So brilliant. Love you guys.
Saving money takes incredible endurance. Your ability to save is going to take some sweat (and blood, possibly tears). To compensate for lower future investment returns, your savings discipline will need to be robust for another decade. And as long as you’re attempting to be steps ahead of the “running” dead, aerobic exercise is just plain good for you.
Based on credible studies you’ll need to command a pot of money in excess of $250,000 in today’s dollars to fund healthcare costs in retirement.And we’re not even talking how much you’ll need if you spend three years drooling all over yourself in a swanky assisted care facility.
Why not work harder now to combat high healthcare expenses later? Preventative action through exercise and a clean diet will pay off regardless of whether a zombie rising occurs or not. So..
Rule #2 Double Tap: In Zombieland, this is the “insurance” rule; one shot usually isn’t enough to kill a zombie. Be on the safe side and insure the dead is dead by taking a second shot. Contact your insurance company and double-check coverage especially home and auto to make certain you’re covered in case of disaster. Check out the insurance hub at http://www.bankrate.com. Information about homeowners and auto insurance can be found at http://www.iii.org, the Insurance Information Institute.
Investigate an umbrella insurance policy which is an extra layer of protection against lawsuits resulting from damage to someone else’s property or injuries in case of accident. It can also protect you from false claims such as libel and slander. For roughly $400 annually, the coverage is downright cheap and worth a look. Think of it as extra bullets. And in Zombieland, you can never have enough bullets.
Rule #3 Beware of Bathrooms: Ok – a tough one you think, however this is really an overarching statement about being stuck in an awkward position at the worst possible time. You don’t want to be caught on the bowl when the living dead target you!
Don’t get caught with your pants down when emergencies arise. Make sure to maintain
six months of living expenses in a savings or money market account. Just as I always wear a belt so it’s tougher to get the pants down, I recommend six months as a bare minimum to be safe.
Three months of emergency savings as a rule, is a financial zombie that must be shot in the head. There still remains a good chance that your new job will pay less than the one you lost, so an adequate buffer is mandatory.
Rule #4 Seatbelts: Taking creative routes, stopping short, driving fast? It’s all normal in Zombieland and occasionally in Financialworld too. When it comes to investing, your
emotions are driven by fear and greed. They’ll take you on a breathtaking ride more often than you think.
Successful investors learn to manage their emotions. In disciplined doses you must be strong and sell into greed and buy into fear. The seatbelts of rules and disciplines will keep you secured.
As Zombieland’s Chairman Ben Bernanke roils every asset market, you just don’t feel safe. Gold is a shit storm, bonds are down, stocks are down. Cash appears to be the only automatic weapon with endless bullets available.
During these times in markets you feel like you’re standing in a parking lot. Naked. Coated in BBQ sauce. Holding a sign above your head that spells out “EAT ME.” Oh, and you’re screaming at a hoard of zombies to come and get it.
Sit with your financial pro now. Or find one who can help you outline specific portfolio buy and sell guidelines and master the greatest enemy of investment returns – YOUR BRAIN. And zombies LOVE BRAINS!
Rule #5 Travel Light: Zombies seemingly pop up anywhere-they’re eerily stealth. In Zombieland you don’t want to be lugging all kinds of junk when you need to be nimble at all times.
When it comes to money be sensitive to investment, credit and insurance expenses. Make certain to read the fine print and realize all choices have expenses. The key to success is to know what you’re getting for the hard-earned money you spend or invest.
For example, term life insurance is a lot cheaper than variable life; maintaining or using a credit card is convenient however realize you’ll pay on average 16% interest for the luxury. Fair and lighter fees mean more money in your pocket over the long term.
Rule #6 Don’t (DO) Be a Hero: Columbus eventually realized that sometimes you need to be a hero in Zombieland. Be sensitive enough to know yourself and realize when you must admit a mistake, change a rule and move on. It’s never too late to change a bad behavior.
According to several academic behavioral finance studies, most investors will hold on to
losing investments way too long and sell winners too quickly. Men especially have a difficult time admitting mistakes and changing strategies. Being close-minded to new ideas or holding on to losing investments until they “return from the dead,” is a sure fire path to bloody future returns.
Rule #7 Limber Up: Before working through an unchartered or questionable area it’s best to warm up. In Zombieland a pulled muscle can slow you down and before you know it you’re on the menu!
People I meet and many I talk with are seeking some form of investment to get them rich quick. It all sounds exciting but getting rich quick is a sexy fairy tale destined to pull the money muscle right out from under you. There is no excuse for homework and discipline. If you dig deep enough into get-rich quick schemes they’re surprisingly easy to unravel.
Rule #8 When in Doubt Know your Way Out: Perhaps one of Columbus’ best. You must have an exit strategy when entering a building in Zombieland. Precious time can be wasted by surprises or attempting to unblock an exit.
Know your rules of exit before you own any investment. Individuals should check their
investments at least semi-annually as they ebb, flow and change and occasionally not for the better.
It’s important to also make certain your beneficiaries are updated on company retirement plans, IRAs and life insurance policies to make certain those you don’t desire to receive the assets, are removed. You wouldn’t believe how common it is for ex-spouses to be unintentional recipients of assets you meant for others. And this shit is ironclad. Once you die, the wrong people will receive your money.
Rule #9 The Buddy System: It’s crucial for a friend to have your back to clear an area or help you out of a sticky undead situation. There’s nothing wrong with having another set of eyes to help you review your financial situation as long as the person is qualified, objective and has your best interest in mind. Heck, as long as the person you confide in has your back it’s worth gaining an opinion, right?
Oh, and if you do hire a professional it’s important to understand how they receive payment and divulge any conflicts of interest up front. Ask the critical question: “How do you get paid?” You want specifics.
Rule #10 Check the Back Seat: Heck, it’s necessary to do this whether the living or dead are hiding back there! Your financial situation must be able to withstand unwelcomed surprises.
A disability can devastate a financial plan, even if it’s short term in nature. Do not overlook the need for disability insurance coverage; don’t be tempted to play the odds. Most companies will provide short and long-term disability coverage as part of a benefits package. Consult your current insurance professional and secure coverage as
soon as possible.
I write a lot. I keep a red Moleskine notebook with me all times. Yesterday, I wrote,spilled out the answers to these five questions. Happy to share them with you. Because at the end of the world, you want to make sure you have your shit in order emotionally. No regrets.
Here we go. But before we do that..One more Zombieland photo:
God I hate clowns. Zombie clowns? I can’t even go there.
1). Who would you say “I love you” to first in case zombies rained down on your neighborhood? My girl Haley. So why wait? If you love someone tell them. Today. Now. Wake them up. They’ll be pissed off but do it. A zombie drop is scheduled in your vicinity, within the hour.
2) What would you take with you in case you needed to leave in a hurry? I keep with me an old letter. Almost 20 years old. It was written about my dying dad. From his doctor at the time. It explained how amazed this doc was at my dad’s mental ability to fight the cancer eating him alive at the time. “I never had a patient fight for life like this. I am in awe of him.” I’m thinking I would need to read this frayed note. Many times.
3). If you had to pick a female to be stuck with during the World War Z, who would it be? Hands down – Maria Molina from Fox News. I’m not even going to discuss or argue with you over this. It is what it is.
4). What are you grateful for in the present? Like it’s one year into Zombieland, you’re behind a barricade. What are you missing? I’m missing the smell of cinnamon, conversation with several close friends, anything written by James Altucher, a triple-cheeseburger from Red Robin. Live in the now. Step back and consider the texture, smell, presence of what/who you appreciate. I think I’ll have a milkshake today.
5). What would be your last words in the case (it’s inevitable) you become a buffet item at a zombie Golden Corral? I was thinking something funny like “I hope you die from all the fat you’re eating,” or just an “oh shit!” I need to work on this one. What would be your last words if you knew you were going to die today? The words you use will shape the reasons you’re still alive.
You’re not dead.
You’re not zombie chow.
Act every day like the dead are coming and you’ll live more than ever before.