Protecting Your Future

Growing up in the 50’s did not prepare me for the 21st century’s demands.  I recall a Sunrise Semester on public television telling me that change is the only certainty.  (Of course, death and taxes are for sure too.)  This tidbit hardly oriented me to today’s dynamic times.

In those days, “flying by the seat of your pants” was possible, if not a good idea.  The times were tolerant and settled.  (I am not talking about the social or cultural attitudes.)  I mean, if you did not plan your financial life, you could scrape by.  My parents did not hit the rocks financially.  However, my mother was not well off late in life.  The phrase “fail to plan, plan to fail” was not as true then as it is today.

How do you plan for the future in today’s uncertain world?  Protecting the future is harder and more necessary now than when I was growing up.  I can say this unequivocally.

What makes today so much harder than when I was growing up?  First, there are more options; they are more varied and subtle, and it is hard to rank them.  Your personal/financial goals are difficult to select and rank as well.  But this begs a deeper question.

Is the future worth your savings?  Protection?  How much is it worth to you?  Does it make any sense today to save/invest in the future or to spend what you earn as fast as it comes in?  Deferred gratification versus immediate gratification?  Our culture prefers the latter.  Because?  The far future is dimmer than ever.  Prove me wrong.  So, is planning a pragmatic need for protecting the future?  Or is it merely a leftover imperative?

Well, you will have to answer those questions in private.  It seems to me that many of you are very unsure about the future, would rather dig in and let the devil take the hind most.  And, because of recent history, there appears to be more intense ostrich-like behavior than ever before … a hope that it will all blow over.

This attitude is understandable because planning is unnatural.  If I offered $1,000 today versus an IOU for $1,000 invested for 10 years, it is clear you would take the thousand immediately.  “Take the money and run!” Will you reap the rewards of your investment?  People believe more in UFO’s than in Social Security’s future.  Bottom line, distant rewards are not as attractive as today’s rewards.  And tomorrow’s losses are not as fearful as today’s losses.  How about a flood tomorrow versus a flood in 30 years?  How many of you would choose the flood tomorrow versus thirty years hence?

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