Personal Finances and the Distractions of Life
Years ago I use to teach seminars about personal finances and one thing we use to talk about was what I will call the distractions of life. We all live busy lives, some extremely busy, and so we end up living by the rule “if it ain’t broken don’t fix it”. Often we all create our own busyness and the level of “busy” is largely up to us. Yes we have work and family obligations, but we are in control of many of those obligations.
Yesterday I was visiting with a client, we belong to the same social club and he asked about the annual picnic being canceled, since I attend the board meetings he figured I would have some insight. I told him that there simply was not a Saturday in May that worked; too many other functions were already planned. After all May starts graduation season for college and high school, it has the Memorial Day Holiday, and you could also throw in the beginning of the wedding season. Who does not know of someone getting married during the months of May or June?
As a result of our busy lives our personal finances get left to what ever benefits our employer offers and then we simply hope for the best with everything else. It has been said that the average family spends more time planning their annual vacation than their family finances.
The distractions of life seem to come in waves and they are timed just like the waves at the beach, some are larger than others, but they come regularly and timely. Here are some examples:
We start every new year working to get caught up from the holidays, then it is Valentines Day, the world tells us we have to do something really special for our sweetheart and we respond. If we know what's good for us we'd better!
Next is Easter and Tax season, so we say to ourselves and others “I will attend to my personal finances after I finish my taxes.” So lets meet after tax season is over. Tax season ends and…
It is graduation/wedding season and my child is graduating from high school and my nieces best friend is getting married, so out goes May and June - just too busy. Lets meet in July…
Well July comes and we have again the wonderful holiday we call the 4th, Independence Day! (Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be truly financially independent on Independence Day?) And it is also vacation season, with August on its tail. Things will settle down after we return from vacation and we will have time to work on our finances…
Here we are at the end of August and into September back from vacation, but life is so crazy with trying to get the kids settled back in school and the Labor Day holiday, we just can’t find time to visit…
Then October starts and it is the beginning of the fourth quarter, work gets demanding simply because we have to make a strong push for the end of the year, the hours at work are so crazy, maybe it will slow down next month…
Next month is the beginning of the holiday season, with Thanksgiving (my personal favorite). Then Christmas and New Years and we all know how busy the holiday season is so we simply can’t meet then…
Soon enough we are right back where we started at the new year with little to no progress on our personal finances. The waves keep coming. At some point we have to stop and take control of our lives and our finances. It is all a matter of priorities. If we wait until its broke, then often we can’t fix it. If all we do is take what is offered to us as benefits from work, then what happens if we are unlucky and get the dreaded pink slip? Poof, just like that, our benefits are gone.
I have a client in that very situation who was hit by a storm. During his last job, he developed an illness that prevents him from obtaining life insurance. He lost his job and benefits, he always thought that he would have enough wealth so he could as the drive-by’s say “self insure his life”. With the large amount of money he has, he still has two young children, he still needs some life insurance. A little time and planning would have helped a lot.
Don’t put things off, get things organized, see a professional financial advisor, make sure they at least have a professional designation, that requires them to have some level of financial education and a code of ethics, the best are: ChFC, CFP, and CPA. As a ChFC (Chartered Financial Consultant) I understand the education, rigorous exams, and practical experience necessary to obtain such a designation, my clients have benefited from this additional training.
Get started today, after all the waves will always come regardless, and so will the storms. Don’t let the waves get in the way of preparing for the storms!
"Opportunity abounds in alleged bad times."
"True optimism includes realistically looking for opportunities among bad developments"
~ Howard Ruff