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FINANCIAL GROUNDHOG DAY 20 FEB is intended to educate the general public about investing, finance, estate planning, personal injury, and small-business issues. It is not intended to be legal or financial advice. Every situation is different.The information in this newsletter may be freely copied and distributed as long as the newsletter is copied in its entirety.
GETTING OUT OF HARMFUL CYCLES TO PREPARE FOR RETIREMENT
January’s already come and gone, though you might not be able to tell from the weather. Starting the year in the dead of winter can certainly feel counterintuitive. Here we are talking about new beginnings and fresh starts while the world outside our doors is literally frozen in place. It can be hard to break out of our own cycles when we wake up to the same morning again and again. It can all begin to feel a little like a certain movie that was set during this time of year. I don’t think “Groundhog Day” will ever stop being a classic, which I suppose is fitting given the plot. Bill Murray’s deadpan “here we go again” performance is still good for a laugh today despite the rather existential situation his character finds himself in. Like the movie, many of us can relate to the idea of being stuck in a rut — experiencing the same setbacks and missed opportunities as the years before. However, unlike Murray’s magical repeating of a single day, our situation can be far more dire. Say what you want about the frustrations of reliving the exact same day over and over again, but if your age and bank account resets, then you’ve got yourself a pretty decent deal. The rest of us face loops that still march forward with time. It might feel like nothing changes from year to year, at least where our finances are concerned. And yet retirement looms closer with each repetition. But this isn’t to say these cycles are inescapable. It can easily feel that way during a time when NewYear’s resolutions are failing and the weather is in its own depressing loop, but make no mistake, the spring thaw does come eventually. The trick is to plan ahead to be ready when that sunshine comes. Again, let’s return to Murray and “Groundhog Day.” Our protagonist may not have the ability to change his larger situation, but he can alter the way he reacts to it. After plenty of high jinks, missteps, and literal slaps to the face, Murray begins to learn and grow out of his old habits. From there, the repetitive cycle takes care of itself. Murray’s greatest ally in the movie is information. He turns the curse of cycling through a single day into a strength, learning French and even how to save a child’s life. Sadly, we don’t have the eons of disposable
time the fictional character has to study and perfect every aspect of our day-to-day lives, but unlike Murray, we don’t have to go it alone.
Financial cycles are nothing new. They happen on both a micro level (people struggling to find ways to save for retirement) and a macro level (the boom-bust dynamic of the modern economy). Like Murray in “Groundhog Day,” observing these cycles and getting the right information from them is key to moving forward. But, of course, there can be such a thing as too much information. Of all the financial mistakes I see people make, indecision caused by analysis paralysis is by far the most common. There’s so much advice and raw data out there that it can be hard to know where you’re going. So rather than pick a direction, people stay put, stuck in the same old cycle of trying and failing to reach their financial goals year after year. That’s where responsible fiduciaries come in. In my view, it’s my job to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to this information, helping you make decisions about your future with confidence. You may not get to run through every financial decision thousands of times like Murray’s character, but with steadfast advice and quality information, you don’t have to.
Here’s hoping the groundhog doesn’t see its shadow,
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