Your investments: Yom Kippur, time for financial soul-searching

Taking the time to review your investment ‘sins’ of the past year and atone for them is a surefire way to get yourself back on the path to financial stability.

House and calculator [Illustrative]. (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
House and calculator [Illustrative].
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
“I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me.” – Anna Quindlen
As Yom Kippur quickly approaches, we are preoccupied with seeking forgiveness for this past year’s sins as well as planning to improve ourselves in the upcoming year. Controlling our anger and becoming a better parent, a better spouse, more community involvement and visiting the sick are just some of the goals that we set for ourselves to become better individuals.
We focus our self-improvement not just on what we can do better in the upcoming year, but also by looking back and understanding where we fell short of our goals. In today’s fast-paced, remote-control culture, taking time out to reflect on the past and thoughtfully plan for the future may not be trendy, but it’s the only way to truly improve.
Yom Kippur is a day that we “get back to basics” – no fancy clothes, no one trying to impress his friend – just a focus on repenting for past sins and trying to create a game plan to prevent future ones.
Explaining the custom to wear only white, Rabbi Berel Wein wrote: “The white garments are also a reminder of the costume of the High Priest worn on Yom Kippur during most of the Yom Kippur service in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The main service was conducted then and there with the High Priest wearing the four white garments – shirt, pants, belt and hat – without the four gold garments – the long coat, the breastplate, the head plate and the apron – that he ordinarily wore in performing his Temple duties. The gold garments are not worn on this day of asking forgiveness because they represent hubris, human majesty and are a potential reminder of the sin of the Golden Calf. Yom Kippur is a day of humility and a low and private profile. Fancy garments, especially gold garments, are really out of place and contrary to the prevailing spirit of this holy day.”
I think that we can take this lesson and apply it to our financial life as well. After all, Yom Kippur is not just a day focused on the spiritual, but, as illustrated in the High Priest’s prayer upon finishing the service, physical needs as well. Now is a perfect time to use many of these same principles to get our finances in order as well. Don’t think that reviewing the past is for spiritual improvement only. Taking the time to review your investment “sins” of the past year and atone for them is a surefire way to get yourself back on the path to financial stability.
Do I need this?
As I mentioned earlier regarding the custom of wearing white, it’s time to get back to basics. Start examining spending decisions and assess if you really need the product or whether you can do without. Often, the difference between living within our means or not hinges on how necessary expenditures are. Every spending decision that is made can have a crucial effect on staying out of debt.
To avoid going into overdraft and to increase savings, expenses need to be prioritized. This is the case whether deciding to buy a new TV or whether to pay NIS 25 for a six-minute cab ride when you could walk instead. It is always a good idea to ask yourself if a purchase is necessary.
When shopping, make a list of what you actually need before you go, to prevent yourself from buying every great deal you see. Sticking to a specific shopping list prevents the purchase of superfluous luxuries.
No goals
Investors need to look forward as well. You need to define your goals. Whether you invest to fund your retirement, to pay for children’s weddings, to leave an inheritance for the next generation or a combination of these, understand your goals and invest with those goals in mind. If you need your money in a year or two to pay for a wedding, you may have to accept getting a small, guaranteed return on your investment as opposed to “trying to beat the stock market.”
If you understand your goals and you invest with an eye on meeting them, your chances of success will be much greater.
May we merit a happy and healthy Shana Tova.
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.
[email protected]
Aaron Katsman is a licensed financial professional in Israel and the United States who helps people with US investment accounts. He is the author of the book Retirement GPS: How to Navigate Your Way to A Secure Financial Future with Global Investing.