As we are all at the beginning of a new year, we instinctively hope for a better year ahead than normally the one we just come from.
Engaging with people and clients alike many ask questions like; What is going to happen this year on the markets, what is the rand going to do this year, will our economy ever recover and so forth.
As always, I reply that if I could just know what tomorrow will bring, let alone this year, I could retire in one day. But sometimes I jokingly say that there’s one thing I can tell you and that’s that we will have load shedding this year.
Jokes aside we are wired to want to know what is going to happen in future although we know and acknowledge that there’s nothing we could do to know, or change the outcome.
When I started with financial planning 34 years ago, I also wondered what’s going to happen in the future, but soon realised that it’s a futile question. What’s more important is what are the factors that I do have power over and can control, and surprisingly this has never changed over time.
Let’s look at some of these factors:
- Do I live within my means?
- Do I save as much as I can?
- Do I make use of all the income tax breaks the Government allows me?
- Do I keep my emotions in check when things are out of control on the world and local markets?
- Do I stick to my financial plan even though it doesn’t “feel right” to do so?
After 34 years I realised that controlling what I can has a far more important influence on the outcome of my financial future as constantly trying to control or understand what the immediate and long-term future holds.
One case in point. I have encountered so many people that refused to even start a savings plan or not even wanting to contribute to their employer’s pension scheme, as the future “looked so dark” that they would rather enjoy and spend the money now, instead of saving when there’s no guarantee that they would even reach retirement.
I now have the privilege/ horror of meeting many of these people that did actually make it to retirement and the bliss of spending the money in their youth or the fancy trip overseas is a distant memory. The fear of not having enough in retirement is real and many are not prepared to deal with it now.
I have fortunately also seen (an increasing number) of people that did apply the factors they could control and now enjoy a well-deserved retirement where they can still do the things that excite them and give meaning to their lives without daily worrying about their financial futures.