Category: Timely Topic
A few years ago, Laura Vanderkam set out to study how 1,001 busy, successful women managed their time. Most of these women had full-time jobs, kids, and dozens of commitments. She had each of them keep a time diary for a full week—168 hours—to learn the strategies they used to keep their lives afloat.
One of the women came home on a Wednesday night to a flooded basement. Her water heater broke while she was running errands. Between calls with plumbers and coordinating a cleaning crew, the ordeal took seven hours out of her week.
“I’m sure if you had asked her at the start of the week, Could you find seven hours to train for a triathlon or mentor seven worthy people?”, she would have said what most of us would say: No. Can’t you see how busy I am?” says Vanderkam. “Yet when she had to find seven hours, she found seven hours.”
Vanderkam, whose TED talk “How to Gain Control of Your Free Time” has been viewed more than five million times, points out that time is elastic. We can’t create more time, but it will stretch to accommodate what’s essential.
“The key to time management is treating our priorities as the equivalent of that broken water heater,” says Vanderkam.
As I write this on a dreary December day, it seems like this entire past year was like those seven days when the woman dealt with her broken water heater. Instead of feeling in control, many of us found ourselves constantly reacting—to the latest coronavirus data, to the election coverage, to the volatile stock market.
The good news is that we can recalibrate and fill our days with the things that deserve to be there. But how can we make this happen? How do we find the same sense of urgency as that woman with the broken water heater?
Laura Vanderkam has a tip.
Let’s pretend it’s December 2021. It’s been an amazing year. Ask yourself what three to five things did you accomplish that made it such a great year?
Once you’ve identified those goals, break them down into manageable, bite-sized steps and put them into your schedule first—not when you “think you’ll have time.”
By designating something as a water heater-level priority, we reduce our odds of falling off the wagon, whether that’s training for a marathon or bolstering your kids’ college savings fund.
For successful, happy people, their lives are the compound effect of how they spend their time away from work. Remember, there are 168 hours in a week. Even if you’re at the office for 60 hours and sleep 8 hours a night, that leaves 52 unscheduled hours.
“There is time,” says Laura. “Even if we are busy, we have time for what matters. And when we focus on what matters, we can build the lives we want in the time we’ve got.”
Let’s all find our broken water heaters and get to work.
We can help you set or clarify your financial priorities and help you achieve them. Want to learn how? Schedule a call with us to find out.
Last month we shared five things that can still be done in December to minimize your 2020 taxes. With only a day left in the year, the number one thing you can still do to offset your taxes is to GIVE.
Giving is a tax one two punch – lowering taxes today and tomorrow.
Charitable contributions are tax-deductible in the year you make the gift, either to your favorite organization or your Donor Advised Fund. By contrast, gifts to individuals provide a longer-term benefit – they are a great way to lower your overall estate and reduce the amount that is potentially subject to estate taxes in the future. Cumulative gifts to an individual up to $15,000 [$30,000 for a married couple filing jointly in 2020] are under the annual gift exclusion and do not require a gift tax return to be filed. If you give more than $15,000 to one person, you may have to file a gift tax return, and we would encourage you to consult with your tax professional. Of course, for clients of Hill Investment Group, we handle the consultation and coordination.
With politics being everywhere in this heated time, it’s natural to wonder, do politics belong in your financial plan? A recent article in the New York Times looks into just this question.
The key point: as an investor, your advisor’s views should have no part in your plan. At HIG, you and your personal wealth goals are what matter to us. If you want your politics to be a part of your future goals, we will help you decide how to do that. Our politics will not enter the picture.
If you are not a client of ours, and are worried that your advisor’s political outlook is influencing their advice to you, here are some suggestions taken directly from NYT the piece:
- If you think politics factor into your adviser’s strategy for your nest egg, ask for explanations. A good retirement planner will be able to articulate how the actions taken by politicians can — and can’t — affect your portfolio.
- When emotions are running high, resist the urge to dismiss your adviser on the spot — a knee-jerk reaction when it comes to your retirement security isn’t a great idea. Don’t do anything that’s not part of a long-term investing strategy.
- Talk to your adviser about how specific economic policies affect your portfolio. Politics might be about people, but your investment decisions should be informed by the ramifications of, say, bond-buying or tax-code changes.
- Try to keep an open mind. A different viewpoint from one you hold might give you valuable insight for your long-term savings goals.
- If you want to integrate your political views more directly into your retirement planning, some advisers suggest working with someone who has knowledge and expertise in E.S.G. (environmental, social and governance) investing strategy.
At HIG, we have a single-minded focus on putting the odds of your long term success in your favor. And, as fiduciaries, we are legally bound to work in your best interest. Period. We are passionate about what you need from your plan to help you live the life you want, and give you peace of mind.
So, our message during this period will sound familiar to our long-term followers: focus on what you can control, keep calm, and take the long view. Your nest egg and legacy will thank you.