Holiday season is over: Time to get serious - opinion

Now that we are past the holidays and it’s time to get back into the daily grind, people again tend to put things off as “life” takes over.

Calculating taxes (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Calculating taxes
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

Procrastination comes in two types. Some of us procrastinate in order to pursue restful activities – spending time in bed, watching TV – while others delay difficult or unpleasant tasks in favor of those that are more fun. – Daniel Levitin

So we made it past summer vacation, sent our kids to school for a couple of days, and then joined them in corona quarantine, as the holiday season approached. How many of us flagged emails, and said that we will deal with them after Sukkot? In one way or another we all procrastinate.  It maybe clicking on the “mark as unread” box when we don’t want to deal with a WhatsApp, or saying that you’ll throw out the garbage in another 2 minutes. As I have mentioned more than once, 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 (it’s safe to write this as my kids never get this far in my columns!) To this day I feel much more productive and energized when I am on some kind of deadline. 

PUTTING UP sukkot in Mea She'arim on October 2.  (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)PUTTING UP sukkot in Mea She'arim on October 2. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)

In Israel the ultimate definition of procrastination is the ‘concept of after the chagim’, 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 and it’s time to get back into the daily grind, people again tend to put things off as “life” takes over. Why? Because they are just too busy. 

Whether it’s getting kids back into the school routine and figuring out if they should go to an art or ballet after-school activity, or trying to work through the email backlog, we don’t have the time. Most of us struggle trying to balance career and family.  Work/life balance issues and how to juggle the two have become a hot topic over the last few years. What I have noticed is that as all the focus goes to balance work and life, finances are neglected.    

We never seem to have enough time to deal with issues of importance. How many of us put off reviewing our investment portfolio 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.”

A few years ago Financial Engines released results of a survey they took. “We recently conducted a survey to better understand financial procrastination, and found that more than two-thirds (68 percent) 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.  I met with a woman a few weeks ago who basically was getting paid in the US. She made a very nice salary but when I asked how much she spent she had no clue. The whole point of the meeting was that she was planning on retiring in the next 12-24 months, and needed to know if she had enough money to retire. She had said that she had meant to meet with me 5-6 years ago but never got around to it. I told her that without knowing what her expenses look like it’s pretty hard to understand how much money she will need in retirement.  

We promise that we will “get to it soon”, but never do. If we have blurry vision we go to an optometrist or ophthalmologist which takes about an hour; meeting with your financial advisor takes about as long, and will help ensure that your financial health is in order.  

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.

Better hurray and get your finances in order. After all, Passover is right around the corner!

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 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. Member FINRA, SIPC, MSRB, FSI. For more information, call (02) 624-0995 visit www.aaronkatsman.com or email [email protected]