So Bernie Madoff got the proverbial book thrown at him with Judge Denny Chin's 150 year sentence. Madoff leaves us the same way he came onto our collective radar screens: quickly and with grandiosity. But make no mistake. There's another Bernie Madoff waiting to take his place, and another after that, and another after that one. As someone whose wife was murdered, I can guarantee you she will not be the last innocent victim to fall prey to a brutal monster. Unfortunately, when it comes to the pathological and the mentally deranged, the specter of a stiff prison sentence serves as zero deterrent. The streets are littered with evil predators searching for their next victims. It's best we know that and not fall into a false sense of security because, "Phew! Bernie's in jail!"
When it comes to our financial health, what we can learn from the Bernie Madoff tragedy is this: live your life with more street smarts than ever. Don't let the bad guys win, and don't be stupid. Or greedy. Greed will get ya every time. So here's a few simple tips:
- Never put all your eggs in one basket, no matter how tempting
- Be leery of investments that continually show gains even in a global economic recession
- Check your monthly account statements. If they look like they were produced by a high school kid, run
- Never escort a stranger to the ATM machine to deplete your account so that he can invest the money and make you both rich
- Never send any money to any "nice fellas" in Nigeria who've informed you through a grammatically-challenged unsolicited email that there's millions waiting for you in Abuja if only you wire them $50,000+ to "release the funds"
By following these few simple rules you will most likely preserve your hard-earned life-savings and reduce the likelihood that, because of unscrupulous scumbags like Bernie Madoff, you'll end up working as a 70-year-old greeter at Walmart.