Your Investments: ‘After the hagim’ personal finance

A few years ago, Financial Engines did a survey on financial procrastination. It found that 68% of adults age 55 or older admit to procrastinating on retirement planning.

Investment graph (photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
Investment graph
(photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
‘Hesitation is often like procrastination. One may have vague doubts and feel a need to mull things over; meanwhile, other issues intrude on thought, and no decision is taken. Ask people why they procrastinate, and you probably won’t get a crisp answer.” – Robert J. Shiller
In one way or another we all procrastinate. It maybe clicking on the “remind me later” box when we are prompted to update the anti-virus on our computer, or saying you’ll throw out the garbage in another two minutes.
Throughout all my years as a student, I can’t remember one instance where I had a paper ready ahead of the due date, or was well prepared for a test more than 12 hours before it took place. To this day I feel much more productive and energized when I am on some kind of deadline.
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 and figuring out which after-school activities to sign them up to 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.   
One more second
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 that 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
A few years ago, Financial Engines did a survey on  financial procrastination. It found that 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 never do. If we have a pain in a knee, we all go to the doctor, which takes about an hour. Meeting with your financial adviser takes about as long and will help ensure that your financial health is in order. 
Make order
This whole process takes about two hours. One hour for the meeting and I strongly recommend an hour or so for preparing. I find that when a client comes prepared to a meeting, a tremendous amount is accomplished. In preparation, map out your financial goals. Using an expert will help you decide how to invest your savings, but you should first have a firm handle of 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.
Now is the time to get your finances in order. After all, Passover is quickly approaching in just another six-and-a-half months.
The information in this article reflects the opinion of the author and not necessarily the opinion of Portfolio Resources Group, Inc. or its affiliates. The writer is author of the book Retirement GPS: How to Navigate Your Way to A Secure Financial Future with Global Investing (McGraw-Hill), and is a licensed financial professional both in the United States and Israel. For more information, call (02) 624-0995, visit or email [email protected]