Your Investments: Make financial ‘Seder’

Although we are free in a spiritual sense, are we financially independent? Have you put off saving for the future?

With Pessah fast approaching, we are all celebrating that we have gone from being slaves to being a free people. In Tractate Pessahim 10:5, the Mishna states that “man is obligated to view himself as if he himself left Egypt.” In other words, we must internalize that we were once slaves, but now we are free.
Although we are free in a spiritual sense, are we financially independent? Have you put off saving for the future? Do we still rely on our parents for help? Has overdraft become a way of life? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then our eating of the “bread of affliction” may have more than one meaning.
There is a common perception that only people with a lot of money are able to make money. This is just flat out not true.
If you want to achieve financial independence, then you need to start investing.
By saying “financial independence,” I don’t mean getting rich. Rather, I mean that you are self-sufficient, have retirement savings and don’t fret when your toilet breaks and you need to come up with some money to pay a plumber to fix it.
Don’t think that $25,000 to $50,000 is not enough to start with. With that sum you could start an investment account, you could make a down payment on a rental property, or potentially even do both. But if your mind-set is that you are destined to always have a small nest egg and always be reliant on someone else, you will never get anywhere.
Last week, Marketwatch ran an article about how to turn a $10,000 investment into a million-dollar retirement nest egg: “Savings – sure, but who has money for that? Indeed, one of every three Americans between the ages of 18 and 33 have no personal savings, according to a recent Harris Poll survey. What’s more, 53% of this age group has zero in the way of retirement savings. They’re missing out, big time. If a 25-year old with $10,000 invested $320 a month at a 7% annual compound rate of return until they turned 65, they would wind up with $1 million.”
Everyone needs to start somewhere.
Your $50,000 isn’t going to double or triple magically. For this reason, it is important to create a financial plan and start understanding what your short- and long-term needs and goals are. A financial adviser can help you define them.
When creating a long-term plan with an adviser, it’s important to take future expenses into account. These include the purchase of a car within five years, or possibly marrying off children in another eight, 10 or 12 years. Such relevant information is necessary for the adviser to provide an accurate picture of what should be done to meet these future expenses.
Another common mistake is thinking that it’s impossible to save while living in Israel because “common knowledge” says one can’t save on an Israeli salary. However, this is really not the case. If you make saving a priority, then you will be surprised at how much you really can save, even in Israel.
We all tend to make certain lifestyle choices that impact our financial situation.
Whether it’s living in a certain community or choosing to take a particular vacation, our expenses are directly impacted by these decisions. But if we make financial independence an actual priority, we can make the lifestyle changes necessary to save a couple of thousand dollars a year.
Putting aside just a few thousand dollars each year may not seem like a way to grow your wealth. However, taken with your starting sum, investing a few thousand dollars every year for 10 to 15 years could potentially leave you with a couple of hundred thousand dollars. Before you know it, you could be financially independent.
As we are all busy cleaning our homes of any remnant of chometz, take the time to get you finances in order as well. Use this time as a new beginning and get on the path to financial independence.
Chag Sameach.
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Aaron Katsman, a licensed financial adviser in Israel and the United States, helps people with US investment accounts.