The hagim are over, have you checked your bank account? - opinion

YOUR INVESTMENTS: For most of us, it’s all about procrastinating. How many of us are more productive and energized when on a deadline?

Illustrative photo of Israeli money (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Illustrative photo of Israeli money
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

We just finished the holiday season. That means we are starting a new year, reading again from the beginning of the Torah with a general feeling of being spiritually cleansed. (I’ll leave out the sort of sick feeling that is earned from three weeks of overeating.) In Israel this means “after the hagim,” or “after the holidays,” terms used to both justify procrastination and declare that we are now getting back into a routine. 

In one way or another we all procrastinate. It might be saying that you will hang some wet laundry only to find it already dry and wrinkled by the time you get to it, or saying that you’ll throw out the garbage in another two minutes only to find it unmoved a day later. I personally was supposed to get a blood test only to wake up to the fact that my three-month referral was expiring during the holiday, and there were no appointments available. Oops. Thanks to the kind Meuhedet nurse who took my blood anyway. For most of us, it’s all about procrastinating. How many of us are more productive and energized when on a deadline?

As I mentioned, in Israel the ultimate definition of procrastination is the concept of after the hagim, where no one can focus or make a decision on anything until after the holiday season is over. Now that we are past the holidays, it’s time to get back into the daily grind. This is when “life” takes over and people continue to put off things they need to do because they are just too busy. Whether it’s getting kids back in the school routine or figuring out which after-school activities to sign them up for, or trying to work through the email backlog, we are all busy. Most of us struggle trying to balance career and family. Work/life balance issues and how to juggle the two have become a very popular topic over the last decade. It’s just that as all the focus goes to balance work and life, too often I see that what gets left out is attention to finances.

We never seem to have enough time to deal with issues of importance. How many of us put off reviewing our investment portfolios or fail to ever get started because we can’t find an hour or two to get organized and understand what our goals and needs are, and then how to implement a strategy to achieve those goals? When I call to check in with a client, I can’t tell you the amount of times I have heard, “I’m so happy you called. I have been meaning to call you for some time, I just haven’t had the time to do it.”

Delay is costly

 Israeli money bills. (credit: PIXABAY) Israeli money bills. (credit: PIXABAY)

About four or five years ago, Financial Engines released results of a survey they commissioned. “We recently conducted a survey to better understand financial procrastination, and found that more than two-thirds (68%) of adults age 55 or older admit to procrastinating on retirement planning.” The more time not getting your finances in order, the more expensive it will be down the road. The more time you delay in getting down to business, the harder it will be to marry off your kids without taking loans. 

Do you want to have to move in with your children when retired because you don’t have enough money? We promise that we will “get to it soon” but often never do. If we have a pain in a knee we go to the doctor. A meeting with your financial adviser will help ensure that your financial health is in order.

Make order

It’s not time-consuming. An hour for a meeting with your adviser and to be efficient it pays to spend a bit of time in preparation for the meeting. From years of experience, when a client comes prepared to a meeting, a tremendous amount is accomplished. In preparation, map out your short- and long-term goals and needs. How much income will you need to supplement your existing pension? Do you have children or grandchildren to marry off? Are your elderly parents in need of care? Use your adviser as a sounding board. The adviser can tell you if your goals are realistic, and if not, you can work together to come up with goals that can be achieved.

I often speak with a friend, Zerach, who sits right in front of me in synagogue, about how times flies. Yesterday we joked about starting Passover shopping and cleaning as the holiday is only six and a half months away. Don’t wait for the next “after the hagim.” Now is the time to get your finances in order.

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.; [email protected]