Your Investments: Parental relevance and your financial future

Earlier this week I attended a fascinating evening about the relevance of parents in dealing with teenagers. It featured nine high school principals from all over Jerusalem.

Shekel money bills (photo credit: REUTERS)
Shekel money bills
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Everybody knows how to raise children, except the people who have them. – P. J. O’Rourke
Earlier this week I attended a fascinating evening about the relevance of parents in dealing with teenagers. It featured nine high school principals from all over Jerusalem.
The topic clearly struck a chord with parents as 300-400 showed up to participate in the evening. The organizers are trying to create a “bet sefer l’horim” – a school for parents.
After some opening speeches, we broke into groups and discussed various scenarios about how to deal with your teenagers.
Topics – such as what to do when your child comes home four hours after the time you told them or when filling the washing machine you find that your child’s clothes stink of smoke or alcohol – triggered stimulating dialogue and a very wide array of opinions on how to deal with each issue.
After, we all reconvened for a panel discussion with the nine principals. They all spoke about the importance to communicate with your children from a very young age, and that if you never spoke with your child, to try and have a difficult discussion at the age of 16 is not going to bear fruit.
One point that I think about regularly was mentioned by Rabbi Simcha Weissman, the head of Yeshivat Noam. He added some perspective by stressing that parents need to keep in mind that just as they got past the teenage years and turned out okay, their children will also get past this time period and everything will work out.
I went up to him after and thanked him for his words and said that for me the challenge is to remember that things will work out, because when you are in the middle of some kind of issue with your child, it’s about the here-and-now struggle, and not easy to stay focused on the long-term.
I am well aware that I am oversimplifying the parent-teen struggle but I think that the point made is clear.
Financial future
What does any of this have to do with a column on personal finance?
I was mentioning the evening to one of my work colleagues and then it hit me. This is exactly what I preach all the time. After spending the better part of the last three weeks on the phone with clients trying to allay fears as the market came crashing down and their portfolios started to lose money, almost all of what I spoke to them about was the need to focus on their long-term goals and needs.
I understand that it’s no fun losing money but that if you add a bit of perspective, things aren’t so bad and what’s important is that their investment portfolio is allocated in a manner that actually reflects their goals.
One question that I frequently receive is whether people actually make money investing for the long-term.
To answer the question, I would like to repeat something that I wrote in February when the market was in the midst of a very quick 12% drop:
“A long-time client of mine called me to tell me he is withdrawing most of his money to buy some real estate with his son. We were reminiscing about how his account had performed over the years. It turned out that he had started with me in 2003 with about $350,000 and his account grew to $880,000. It’s also important to mention that he was not at all aggressively invested. (And the market crashed in 2008!)
“Earlier this week I got a call from a lady who told me that unfortunately she is getting divorced. They also started with me back in 2002, I think, with $90,000 and they added about $10,000 a year or two later. Their account grew to over $240,000. Again I would point out, they were not aggressively invested.
“What both clients had in common was that they had a long-term vision, set some goals, and invested in basic, what I like to call chocolate/vanilla types of investments. They kept it simple.
“The point of this is not as a way for me to show off and brag that I am the lord’s gift to investing. I am far from that. Rather the point is that if you have patience, stick with your plan, invest in quality investments, keep it simple and have a long-term investment horizon, good things can and usually will happen.”
Oh, and remember: The next time you ask your teenager, who is lying on the couch with their phone, to take down the garbage for the 10th time and receive some kind of grunt and a “yeah, soon,” don’t get frustrated and keep in mind that this stage too will pass!
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.;