SPEND NOW OR SPEND LATER

But we don’t have money to fix our roof.

I can’t believe how expensive it is to replace the landscaping.

Why is our deductible so high?

After what just happened in that Hollywood Nursing Home, shouldn’t generators be required in 55 and over communities?

These are just some of the comments and questions I’ve been dealing with since Irma lashed our state.  The first 3 all come from communities that year after year vote down the funding of a reserve account.  The people in these communities generally take the position that it’s unlikely that their condo or HOA will get hit with a hurricane, and even if it does, we’ll worry about the money when we need to worry about the money.  This month, many of these owners learned the hard way that it’s now time to worry about the money.

With deductibles so high, and landscaping generally not covered by insurance, unit owners across the state are quickly coming to grips with the fact that their insurance doesn’t help much to fix the damage they suffered and as a result it’s the owners themselves who now have to pay the bill for repairs.  Unfortunately, most of these same owners routinely vote against the funding of reserve accounts in their community, year after year, so there’s no source of funds to now tap into.  Scary.  Special assessments are now coming.

Why is it that so many people are against funding reserve accounts?  One reason is that I just think people don’t like planning for and thinking that bad things can actually happen to them.  It’s not denial.  I just think it’s fear of dealing with bad things.  People will save for good things like a new home, new car, a wedding.  But almost nobody today puts money aside for funerals and tombstones, even though you know at some point they will be paid for one way or another.  Same thing with refusing to fund reserves. In 55 and over communities older people think that it’s crazy to put away money for a roof for the next ten years when there’s a decent chance they won’t be around in ten years to see the new roof.  That’s a poor excuse.  Suppose you’re unlucky and you live?  (I’m kidding)  But a hurricane rips off your roof again and now your 10 years older and don’t have the money for a special assessment?  Can you imagine facing foreclosure proceedings when you can’t come up with several thousand dollars at once?  Believe me, at that time you will be wishing that you had funded reserve accounts over the last ten years with a few bucks per month.

We aren’t just sometimes cheap with reserve accounts.  We do the same thing when it comes to money versus safety.  We can’t imagine that a fire will break-out in our condo, so we root for legislation that allows us to forego sprinklers in our condo in order to save the money.  Even though nobody in the State of Florida has ever died in a building that has sprinklers, we don’t want them if it means saving some money.  I was asked this week if I though mandatory backup generators in 55 and over communities is a good idea.  My initial reaction was that I loved the idea, after seeing some of the horror stories on the news about elderly people who had no electric and a/c.  However, that would mean the unit owners would have to pay for it.  Even though they know they will likely have power failures again during Florida’s scorching heat, my guess is that nearly everyone would vote against it if it meant taking some money out of their pockets to pay for it.

So we won’t put away money to fund our roofs should they blow off.  We won’t agree to pay for fire sprinklers or engineered life safety systems that may save us from burning alive during a fire.  We won’t shell out money to install generators so we don’t die from the heat.  If we won’t spend money on these items, then what in the world are we willing to spend on?  Well I heard the new I-Phone came out this week.  It’s a thousand bucks.  I’m guessing lots of people who won’t spend a dollar on all of these life safety issues will be first on line at the Apple store.  I don’t know what makes this new phone so special, but for a thousand bucks, I hope the phone also acts as a fire sprinkler and back-up generator.

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