Happy 50th: Now I can really give advice

Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter. – Satchel Paige

Calculating taxes (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Calculating taxes
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
I have never been big on birthdays. Just always felt that there wasn’t any difference between the day before the big day and the birthday itself. But for me, this year is different. I just turned 50,according to the Hebrew date. My Facebook birthday isn’t for another week and a half. Maybe it’s a combination of coronavirus; the feeling that the US has lost being, in such a short time period, a beacon of freedom and democracy and is looking like it will implode in the next few months and the fact that locally there appears to be little leadership in dealing with our most pressing issues; but I am worried. My oldest daughter noticed and said, “Abba, you are always so optimistic, is it your birthday or everything else that has you so pessimistic?”
I am not sure. Without getting overly religious, it may be that as you get older you realize how you really are not in such control of everything. There is something bigger out there and while you have a responsibility to do what you need to do, you really are in many ways powerless.
We had another birthday celebration in my office a few days ago, and we started talking about different ages. When you hit 40, based on life expectancy, you still have yet to hit half way. 50 is different. It’s the magic number where chances are that you have already lived more than half your life, and maybe fallen short of many goals that you laid out when you were younger. Not only that, but on a national level there is significance as well. At 50 the Levites are no longer allowed to take part in their temple responsibilities. Rabbi Barry Leff writes, “The Zohar says the reason the Levites were retired from active service at age 50 is because their voices no longer sounded so sweet when it came time to sing the psalms in the Temple. And to add insult to injury, the Zohar says that at 50 ‘the strong fire that is within him is cooled down,’ and the Levites need to be able to sing with full vigor. OUCH!”
Okay enough being depressed. In Ethics of the Fathers (5:24) when discussing various ages it says, “At 50 able to give counsel.” Commentators point out that the reason for this is that at 50 one has a wealth of life experience and can be a source of advice and mentorship to younger people. The fact is I have always given advice, but now it’s sanctioned. How cool is that!
So here comes some advice. Don’t fret over getting a year older. Use the day to your advantage and try and make some positive changes in your life.
Use the past as a means of change for a better future. Don’t focus on “what could have been” and get depressed. First focus on all the good that you have. We have been brainwashed into thinking that we need to have more and more and can never be satisfied. Personally, I have an amazing wife, five great kids, a business and have a great life living in Israel. Livin’ the aliyah dream. All in all, pretty darn good.
When it comes to money people often tell me that had they just done such and such they would be millionaires by now. If all you do is look back with regret, it’s going to be hard to solve problems moving forward. Personally, I have made a fair share of investing mistakes, but I always try and remember those mistakes so as not repeat them. That’s how to achieve financial security. Everyone makes money mistakes, the skill is to learn from them.
Make the change
No one says change is easy. But just because you have lived a certain way financially for decades doesn’t mean that you can’t change. Start making smart financial decisions. It’s okay to say no sometimes. Yes, you may seem like the bad guy for telling your kids that you can’t buy them an Xbox, but you need to have the confidence that by saying no, you are immediately improving your family’s financial situation. Sacrifice a bit today for a more comfortable tomorrow.
Look forward as well. Where do you want to be in 5-10 years? Take some time to just sit and think. In today’s fast-paced instant gratification culture, taking a few minutes just to think is unheard of. Start jotting down some short, medium and long-term goals and speak with a financial professional to figure out how you can achieve those goals.
Use the experience gained with age to have a brighter 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.
The writer is the author of Retirement GPS: How to Navigate Your Way to A Secure Financial Future with Global Investing. www.gpsinvestor.com; aaron@lighthousecapital.co.il.