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The Back Nine
“While the vessel is safe, whether it be a large or a small one, then is the time for sailor and helmsman and everyone in his turn to show his zeal and to take care that it is not capsized by anyone's malice or inadvertence; but when the sea has overwhelmed it, zeal is useless."
I consider the above quotation from Demosthenes, a Greek statesman who lived approximately 2400 years ago, as the guiding principal of my practice. A better known phrase, essentially meaning the same thing is, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
As it relates to planning for the future, the “sea” which can overwhelm us is a lack of time. The “vessel” is our personal finances.
I have worked with some good folks who, while initially saying “I know I need to do something,” seemed reluctant to take the time to talk about comprehensive planning. I understand. Those are the people for whom planning seems scary. We tend to avoid scary things.
Additionally, I suspect their reluctance to act stems from a dangerous relationship with time. Particularly, it is a vague, daydream like notion that they will always have enough time to fix things in the future. To put it in golf terms, it is the notion that they will make it up on the back nine.
For those of you like me, who do not play golf or even know much about it, a standard round of golf consists of eighteen holes. If one were to shoot poorly on the first or “front” nine, a good score may still be salvaged by playing especially well on the “back” nine.
So, for some of us, there is this idea in the back of our minds that at some future time we will really clamp down and start socking away the money we know we will need and want for later life. The rationalizing, internal dialogue might go something like this, “Maybe when the kids are out of daycare I can start planning and saving more.” Or, “Maybe when the kids graduate college …” Or “Maybe when the mortgage is paid off …” Or, “This New Year I will make a resolution to …”
We may tell ourselves that we are really going to buckle down at 40, 50, or 60 etc. and begin socking a bunch of money away at that time. I have no doubt that we mean it. Unforeseen circumstances, however, may make following through on that idea challenging. For example, an illness or injury, to ourselves or a loved one may change our income in a way that makes saving more difficult or even impossible. Oh, that and the fact that wealth is built over time.
In practice, this “Back Nine” concept can actually morph into despair instead of determination. In other words, that mythical right time to begin looking out for our future selves arrives and we do not feel particularly motivated to begin doing what we promised ourselves we would. We may be filled with the feeling that we should have gotten started in our youth and now believe that it is too late to begin, even though that was our plan.
We might look at our circumstances and believe that we missed our chance to build our retirement savings. And while it is true that we cannot go back in time, the present is always a terrific time to start doing the right thing. There is a lot we can do in the present.
This makes me think of a quote by the famous columnist Liz Smith, "The greatest of all mistakes is to do nothing because you can only do a little. Do what you can." The truth is whatever we can do, even if it is relatively small, should certainly put us in better shape than doing nothing at all.
Procrastination ends when we take action. Action leads us to feeling empowered which leads to more action. This is the nature of a victorious cycle. Break the vicious cycle of not doing enough to insure a good and enjoyable future. Take action now!
Scott McGimpsey January 25th, 2017
This material was prepared by Scott McGimpsey and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources, however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Neither Summit Brokerage Services Inc. nor Scott McGimpsey is engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professionally services. If such assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal, state, or municipal tax penalty. Moreover, a diversified portfolio does not assure a profit or assure protection against loss in a declining market. UNIFIED PLANNING GROUP is an independent firm with securities offered through Summit Brokerage Services Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC