Your Investments: Can you achieve financial independence?

It’s clear that you can’t rely on the government for your financial independence. You need to take care of your own financial future.

Dollar and shekel, side by side (photo credit: THOMAS WHITE / REUTERS)
Dollar and shekel, side by side
(photo credit: THOMAS WHITE / REUTERS)
“The rich invest their money and spend what is left; the poor spend their money and invest what is left.” – Jim Rohn
Like many of you, I ate way too much meat on Independence Day in celebration of Israel’s 70th. As we have finished the emotionally difficult week between Holocaust Remembrance Day and Remembrance Day, we are now in the midst of smoke season. That’s the two weeks between the national barbecue on Independence Day through Lag Ba’omer – national bonfire day! Economically speaking, we are able to celebrate and be thankful about just how far Israel has come in 70 short years. With a thriving economy and a global center of innovation that’s second to none, Israel has truly become economically independent. Remember when Israel trying to secure a few billion dollars of US loan guarantees was the leading news story for weeks? Well, when is the last time you even heard the words loan guarantees? While the nation has largely become independent economically, what has become of our own personal economic freedom? While it’s certainly better than it was in 1948, vast improvement is still needed. How is economic freedom defined? According to the Fraser Institute’s “Economic Freedom of the World” annual report: “The cornerstones of economic freedom are (1) personal choice, (2) voluntary exchange coordinated by markets, (3) freedom to enter and compete in markets, and (4) protections of persons and their property.”
Israel has a long way to go on these areas. The size of the government keeps expanding as it enters areas that it has no business being involved with. Regulation continues to handcuff economic entrepreneurship and growth.
The thirst of our tax-happy politicians to spend more and more of our hard-earned money is not good for economic progress today, and it is a big obstacle to individual wealth creation over the long term.
It’s incumbent on each and every one of us to take care of our own future. As the government continues its prohibitive tax policies and attempts to redistribute wealth – for example, through programs that allow young couples to purchase apartments that are NIS 200,000 to NIS 400,000 below market value – it’s clear that you can’t rely on the government for your financial independence. You need to take care of your own financial future. It may feel like you are swimming against the tide, but you have no choice. No one else will do it for you.
It’s tough, but you can do it. Here are three tips that can help you become financially independent:
Set goals
I am a firm believer that people need to set goals to achieve sought-after milestones. If you want to effectively lose weight, you set a goal of how much you want to lose. If you say to yourself that you want to “just lose weight” without any goal of how much, you will end up gaining weight! Set a realistic date for when you’d like to be financially independent. As a guide for how much money you will need in the future, I tell clients they need about 20 years’ worth of this year’s expenses to make it. For example, if you spend $30,000 a year, you will need $600,000. Keep in mind that any pension, National Insurance Institute or Social Security income you receive will lower the overall amount you will need. If you receive $20,000 a year in various pension income, then you will need another $10,000 as supplemental income, which means you would only need about $250,000 in savings to be independent.
It’s not going to happen overnight
You need to make investing a priority. Make a habit of “paying yourself first” every month. Whether you invest in real estate (where you get a monthly rent check) or you invest in the stock market, focus on a slow and steady approach to building wealth. While it’s quite tempting to try and find a home-run stock that will make you an instant fortune, far more often than not, investors end up striking out. When it comes to building assets, slow and steady rules the day.
Don’t wait Individuals often wait to begin investing because they think their accounts are too small. They think if they don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars, there is no point in investing. Nonsense. There are plenty of platforms that allow you to start investing with almost any amount. The sooner you start, the sooner you will become financially secure. It’s that simple.
The government isn’t the answer. Take control of your own financial future.
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.
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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.