It's time to rethink how you spend your money - opinion

YOUR INVESTMENTS: Just because you have lived a certain way financially doesn’t mean you can’t change. Start making smart decisions.

Illustrative photo of a birthday cake. (photo credit: PXHERE)
Illustrative photo of a birthday cake.
(photo credit: PXHERE)

I remember when the candle shop burned down. Everyone stood around singing ‘Happy Birthday.’

–Steven Wright

This week I had a birthday. I am not a fan of getting presents, and just having all the family home last Shabbat was great and the best present I could’ve received. Don’t worry, another year hasn’t made me soft! Also, I am not writing this as a subtle reminder for certain family members to run out and buy me a card and a cake! The financial return on a birthday card is lousy. Save your money. Cake on the other hand; maybe we can make an exception.

Throughout the year we have certain times that are ripe for personal reflection. Obviously, the High Holy Days come to mind but I think a birthday is a great time as well. The older you get the more you tend to look back on the past.

The problem I see with others as they look back and focus on the “what could have been,” they stop there and get depressed, instead of learning from the past to better their future. Look back and focus on what went wrong and then use that to make certain changes going forward.

VARIOUS ISRAELI banknotes are displayed for an illustrative photo. The economy is well on its way to the pre-pandemic standards of budgetary discipline. (credit: NIR ELIAS/REUTERS)VARIOUS ISRAELI banknotes are displayed for an illustrative photo. The economy is well on its way to the pre-pandemic standards of budgetary discipline. (credit: NIR ELIAS/REUTERS)

Where is it that people fall?

When it comes to money people often tell me that had they just done such and such they would be millionaires by now. Over my investing life, I can say that had I followed my instincts and bought 2 specific stocks, there wouldn’t have been a need for a mortgage.

In fact, I’d be writing this column while sipping some kind of adult beverage that has an umbrella in it, on some secluded island. Now I can sit and cry about it and accomplish nothing or learn from the mistakes, and if the same type of opportunity comes along, pounce on it.

No one says change is easy. But just because you have lived a certain way financially doesn’t mean you can’t change. Start making smart decisions.

If you live in financial chaos and felt you were being pulled in many directions and sinking into debt, take control of your situation, start to make an order and get on a budget. It’s okay to say no.

Yes, you may seem like the bad guy for telling your kids that you can’t buy them an X-box or an iPhone, but you need to have the confidence that by saying no, you are immediately improving your family’s financial situation. Some sacrifice today will enable you to live comfortably in the future.

If you don’t have the money, don’t buy it. When I am volunteering helping families get out of debt I often hear excuse after excuse as to why the family “needs” to buy something, and why it has to be the expensive option. They always forget the most basic principle. You can’t buy what you can’t afford. 

Look forward as well. Where do you want to be in 5-10 years? Take time to just sit and think. In today’s instant gratification culture, taking a few minutes to think is unheard of. But if you want to improve your financial situation take a few minutes and start jotting down some short-, medium- and long-term goals. 

If you are married, have each spouse write down their goals separately, go over them together and then come to a common ground, speak with a financial professional to figure out how you can achieve those goals.

Don’t fret over getting a year older. Use the day to your advantage and make some positive changes in your life.

The information contained in this article reflects the opinion of the author and not necessarily the opinion of Portfolio Resources Group, Inc. or its affiliates. 

Aaron Katsman is the author of Retirement GPS: How to Navigate Your Way to A Secure Financial Future with Global Investing. www.gpsinvestor.com; [email protected]