Every year, I like to write a blog to help motivate people into action. Who better to draw inspiration from than good ole’ Buffalo Springfield? (I recognize the famous song written by Stephen Stills had to do with curfew riots on the Sunset Strip in 1966, but it led to a bigger inspiration on my part.) This blog is dedicated to helping people with the biggest procrastination items I’ve seen in 2019. Hopefully I, or Mr. Stephen Stills, can get you motivated to take some action in the New Year on my top 7 procrastinated items.
1.Get those estate planning documents in place or up-to-date. This is the number one culprit where I’ve seen individuals drag their feet. I know it isn’t overly exciting to plan for your passing, but you know what they say–nothing is certain but death and taxes. Since we don’t know when our time is up (I lost a few very close people to me this year alone), the time to take action is now! Get those wills, trusts, and power of attorney documents in place or refreshed. We can help you make it easy, so that shouldn’t be an excuse. Do yourself and your family a favor–take action now.
2. Increase those retirement contributions. There’s an old saying: life is hard by the yard, but a cinch by the inch. I’ve always loved that saying. You don’t have to go from zero to sixty, inching along is just fine. Increase those contributions a percent or two a year. Hopefully that, coupled with some sort of raise, will lead to a real difference in what you’ll save. Do that year over year, for a long period of time and what you’ll find is a massive difference to what the pot at the end of the rainbow looks like.
3. Do an insurance audit. More than anything, we tend to set insurance and forget it. We don’t regularly review our life, disability, long-term care, auto, and home policies. We should, especially if it’s been awhile. Make sure you’re appropriately protected in case a tragedy arises. The last thing any of us want to deal with is a tragedy coupled with not being properly insured.
4. Sit down and review your goals. I’ve found either we consume life or life consumes us. We’re constantly getting pulled in a million directions. If you don’t stop and discuss with your loved ones, along with your advisor team, how can you assure you are going in the right direction? The answer is you usually can’t. It’s important to slow down a couple of times a year to make sure your life, finances, health, values, and goals are all aligned.
5. Go on that vacation. There’re always excuses why you haven’t gone on that trip and finances don’t have to be one of them. A vacation can cost you little to no money, even if things are tight. We all need to unplug and work will be waiting for you when you return. There are many studies that show the therapeutic benefits of vacationing. The mental reprieve for me allows me to come back more energized.
6. Be present when you’re present. This is one I’m constantly working on myself. Ferris Bueller once said: “Life happens pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” For 2020, make an effort to put away those distractions when surrounded by loved ones. (It drives me nuts when I’m out to dinner with my wife and I see a couple on their cell phones rather than talking.) I know I have to do a better job when I’m home of putting away my phone and being physically and mentally present for my family. They’re such a beautiful and special bunch I don’t want to miss it.
7. Do more for charity. I work with a lot of people who comment that they are blessed and would like to do more for charity. I feel the same way. I already do a decent amount, but there’s always more that could be done. Whether it be your time, your money, or both, what more can you give next year to make a difference in the world around you? There’s a famous Jewish principal called Takun Olum which means leaving the world better than you inherited it. Let’s make 2020 the year we do a little bit more than we did last year.
In the spirit of New Year resolutions, which one (or ones) are you going to start with? Which most resonates with you and/or your family? Remember, we are here to help out as much as possible, in any way we can. So, stop looking around and start letting us empower you to change.