Financially Speaking: Doing Nothing is a Decision
By LouAnn Schulfer, AWMA®, AIF®
Accredited Wealth Management AdvisorSM
Accredited Investment Fiduciary®
In my line of work, people have to make decisions. Sometimes the decisions are small ones, often times they are big. The decision to save more. Or not. The decision to purchase life insurance. Or not. The decision to reposition assets. Or not. The decision to plan for retirement. Or not. The decision to plan for potential long-term care costs. Or not. The list goes on and on. The biggest decisions can be the most intimidating, after all, they are usually the most impactful.
What many people fail to acknowledge though is that doing nothing is a decision. Sometimes the effects of doing nothing catch us off guard and unprepared in the short term where regret is sharp. More likely though, procrastination impacts our long term outcome. It’s easy to be too busy to make a decision. Weeks go by, then months, then a year. Then two. Is it too late? Often times not. Hopefully nothing significant happened in the short term like death of a family member, diagnosis of a terrible illness, or a significant market loss affecting your investments and your retirement plans. Over the long term though, the decision to do nothing has compounding effects. Not having saved more. Not having purchased life insurance or a long-term care plan at a less expensive rate due to a younger age or better health. Having assets positioned in investments less favorable to your goals. Approaching your retirement age goal and realizing it would have been more advantageous to save in tax favored investments so that you have more distribution options. These are just some of the outcomes that I’ve seen as a result of procrastination. Here’s a great rule of thumb: make sure that you are not basing the importance of your decision making on the time frame to achieve that goal. In other words, just because something comes first on your time horizon doesn’t mean it’s the highest priority. Retirement is likely one of the largest accumulation goals that you’ll have, therefore, it should be top of your priority list.
What is fun is to look back at how fast the last five, ten or even twenty years have gone by and realize the effects of your decisions and your actions. A disciplined savings plan. A great tax strategy. The decision to purchase a business, to change jobs or even careers. The discipline to follow a plan and focus on progress, ultimately seeing the retirement light at the end of the working tunnel. The fulfillment of achieving your goals and realizing that your success was not accomplished in a day, a week, a single month or even in a year. Your success was the product of making decisions and taking action.
When is the best time to start saving? When is the best time to start planning? When is the best time to face a decision? The answer is, now.
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The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.