Your Investments: How to win the financial gold medal

Let’s learn from our Olympic heroes and from the newlywed couple that I mentioned above and become much more financially disciplined.

Ramat Gan's business district. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Ramat Gan's business district.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
It’s time for the Olympics. I love watching athletes, who plugged away day in and day out, compete against each other with the drama of who wins. How each one deals with the pressure of the moment after training their whole life for an event that may only last seconds is to me incredibly intriguing.
This drama coupled with inspirational personal stories of the athletes makes this once-in-four-years event can’t-miss-TV for me.
I think the lessons we can learn from these athletes can be applied to our personal lives and especially our finances. First of all, these athletes earned their spot in the Olympics. No one gave them anything (except for maybe some banned substances, but that’s another story). They didn’t sit back and wait for the government to take care of their every need.
The financial sacrifice made by many families so that their children can “go for the gold” in an era that in many ways lacks that concept of sacrifice is heartening. We learn that hard work, dedication, the fortitude to overcome injury and other setbacks along with strong will is the recipe for athletic success.
While luck occasionally may be the difference between gold and silver, it plays virtually no part in getting to that stage.
Hope for millennials
As I have mentioned before, I spend a fair amount of time meeting with newly married couples and help counsel them on setting up their households in a financially correct way. Often I can tell they really don’t want to listen to me; they just meet me because their parents insist. I am well aware that they aren’t going to live within their means; they are going to go into debt and in a few years will be back to meet with me to learn the tools to both get out of debt and live in a financially responsible manner.
This week I met with a newlywed couple and found myself both uplifted and full of hope after the meeting.
As I gave my usual spiel on how to budget, the need to be in control of your spending, starting to invest and setting up an emergency fund, the couple asked me about buying an apartment. Now understand that they are both students getting some family financial support, but they are working part-time to bring in extra money.
They told me they have a five-year plan to save money for a down payment. They were laser-focused on meeting this goal and wanted to know how to invest to make it happen. They said they agreed to not go out to restaurants, not overdo it on the clothes shopping and in general live an incredibly simple lifestyle to save for the down payment.
I told them they are going to end up saving more money on their tiny little salary than people making NIS 20,000 to NIS 25,000 a month. I then told them that with their approach to money, once they buy that apartment in five years, they should write a book on how they did it. In many ways they are following the same game plan as our Olympic athletes: personal sacrifice, strict adherence to a goal, not relying on anyone else to do it for them.
Stop making excuses
It is said about millennials that they face the most uncertain economic future of any generation in America since the Great Depression. I hate hearing this. Why? Because when I read in a recent survey that over three-quarters of millennials want to have the same clothes, cars and technological gadgets as their friends, and that almost half “need” to use a credit card to pay for basic daily necessities such as food and utilities, I know they have the wrong priorities and will end in a heap of debt.
Let’s learn from our Olympic heroes and from the newlywed couple that I mentioned above and become much more financially disciplined.
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 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.