Your investments: Corona, and Joseph’s economic plan for Egypt

Maybe we can learn from Joseph’s plan in order to weather the next financial storm.

‘Tomb of Joseph at Shechem’ by David Roberts, 1839. This colored lithograph provided by the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division in Washington shows two men at the entrance to Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
‘Tomb of Joseph at Shechem’ by David Roberts, 1839. This colored lithograph provided by the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division in Washington shows two men at the entrance to Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
In last week’s Torah portion we began reading about Joseph’s economic plan to save Egypt during the seven years of famine. This week, while much of the focus is on his meeting with his brothers and ultimately the reunion with his father, we also see the results of his plan.
The first step was to take advantage of the strong economy and use those years to stash away grain for the seven years of famine.
“And let them collect all the food of these coming good years, and let them gather the grain under Pharaoh’s hand, food in the cities, and keep it. Thus the food will remain as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which will be in the land of Egypt, so that the land will not be destroyed by the famine.” Genesis 41:35-36.
“During the seven plentiful years the land produced in abundance. And he gathered all the food for seven years... and stored it in the cities; he put in each city the food produced by the local fields. Joseph collected produce in immense quantities, like the sands of the sea, until he ceased to measure it, for it could not be measured.... ” (41:47-49)
For those who are also interested I found a great analysis online of his economic plan written by Rabbi Alex Israel, titled “Economics and Morals”. He discusses how the plan at first seems like Joseph is an “opportunist” but upon careful analysis he was all about preserving the dignity of the people, so saving them from revolting and overthrowing Pharaoh.
I was thinking about how relevant this is as we approach a full year of the effects of coronavirus. If we look back to last December, the global economy was surging. In the US, employment was at a record low level across all demographics. Israel also had record low employment and we were completing the best economic decade in the country’s history.
Everything was great. And then news started to trickle from China about a bat and a virus, a bunch of Israeli’s were stuck on a cruise ship for two weeks, and the rest is history.
Maybe we can learn from Joseph’s plan in order to weather the next financial storm. I want to focus on is his approach to saving. After all, Joseph’s plan was not to get carried away with the “go-go” seven years of plenty. Just the opposite, he was the ultimate example of saving for a rainy day.

RETAIL THERAPY
We would all benefit from learning how Joseph approached the seven bountiful years. How many of us put away money when times are good in order to fund those economic challenging times that we come up against?
When you get a bonus from work, do you go ahead and spend it all on vacations, home improvement or a car? Unfortunately, time after time I see people blow through newfound money faster than it took them to get it in the first place.
We hear tragic stories on the news of people who have nothing left because of coronavirus. My heart goes out to them, and no one wants to see families living on the street. Obviously, this pandemic has wreaked economic havoc and I am not judging anyone, but I always wonder how these people were living financially pre-corona?

BE CAREFUL
Maybe this can be a wake-up call for us that we need to be extra careful to plan for bad economic times. Here are two things that can be done:
1 – Emergency fund. I know that I sound like a broken record, but when you lose your job, or you need to fix a broken water heating unit, having that money available is a big help. Try and keep 3-6 months of expenses in the fund and keep it liquid. The point of this money is not to make you a millionaire; it’s to have a chunk of cash readily available in case of emergency.
2 – Long-term investing. Start thinking long-term. The earlier you start investing for the long term, the more secure a retirement you will have. You can get your money working for you, and with a long-term horizon, you may be able to grow your money significantly.
Let’s learn from Joseph the importance of long-term saving. Put money away and you will be able to survive those lean years and global pandemics and can still have enough left for a comfortable retirement.

Aaron Katsman is a licensed financial professional both in the United States and Israel, For more information, call (02) 624-0995 visit www.aaronkatsman.com or email aaron@lighthousecapital.co.il.
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.