My business group uses July to take a midyear checkup. We look at our budgets, planned projects and keep one another accountable. 2020 has not been the year anyone expected. In addition to my business review, I am taking the time to look at where I am personally.
Here are key components of that checkup:
Today’s title is generally attributed to Mort Sahl, America’s first widely televised stand-up comedian. He was well known for his commentaries on the times but before he became famous, he did, in fact, wash and sell cars for a living. The phrase came to mind recently when I saw actor Tom Selleck promoting reverse mortgages on TV. He’s an award-winning performer so I shouldn’t have been surprised by his apparent sincerity.
It has been an interesting few months.
I struggled through the early parts of the pandemic with a sense of isolation and the disruption of everyday life. The past month, I have been reading “Atomic Habits” by James Clear and attending webinars on behavioral finance and practice management.
The common theme was mindset. Mindset can either hold you back or propel you to reach for more. It reminded me that we all have varying levels of human capital, and our mindset determines how we use and enhance that capital.
My great aunt Irma was quite well off, living in a small grove in Orange, California next door to entertainer José Feliciano. We visited her every few years and she took us to nice restaurants, always picking up the tab. As I got older, I was more a part of the adult conversations going on during those visits. One day, Aunt Irma mentioned that she always kept enough in her checking account to pay cash for a new Cadillac. In today’s dollars, that’d be around $60,000 perhaps a bit more than we’d normally recommend for our clients.
You probably remember the old story. A child asks his mom why they always trim the end of a ham before putting it in the oven to bake. She replies that she’s not sure and suggests they call grandma from whom she got the recipe. Grandma’s answer: “The only baking pan I had was too small to fit a whole ham without trimming.”
How many of us keep doing the same things over and over just because those old habits seem familiar? As we begin a new year, it might be a good time to review some financial habits.
Year-end is my time for reflection and renewal. Business owners use it to set goals and develop a plan with benchmarks for the next year. I started applying this perspective to my personal life.
There is no gift that says “I love you” like a lower tax bill in April. Between all the holiday parties and batches of eggnog, there are some financial tasks to check off your list before Dec. 31. In addition to a gift of time, it is probably one of the more important gifts to give.
◗ Contributions to Indiana 529 plans. Time required: five minutes, 20 if you need to open an account.
I grew up in the days when Halloween was fun and safe. The only downside was that I had older brothers who made a point of trying to scare me—and they often succeeded. As an adult, I don’t need my brothers to scare me. I just need to think about the future of retirement in America.
In my much younger days, I never planned to get married and certainly didn't plan to have children. The last thing I thought I would do was to stay home with them. Yet in my 30s, I found myself married, with children and no outside employment. It wasn't what I had planned, but it was the life I was living. When I re-entered the workforce, my goal was to make enough money to pay for child care, a chauffeur and a housekeeper . I could never find the chauffeur.